Morgan carefully nestled his gin and canned-mandarin-orange-syrup cocktail down in the wet mulch. Watching in mock horror, Mike and I saw him stumble toward the swing set, take a seat, and prepare seriously to attempt what we had only jokingly goaded him into trying. I took a nervous look around my apartment complex for anyone peering out their window wondering what a bunch of drunk 20-somethings were doing in the middle of the night on the playground. Kicking awkwardly with a determined look on his face he got the swing going about seven or eight feet off the ground before he let go.
He spent a wild second in the air before landing on the cold night grass n first on his feet, scuttling sideways like an out-of-control crab into a slow motion crash landing. I caught the gleeful look on Mike's face as Morgan's legs gave and he slid down an embankment into the woods. After we assessed his condition as fair enough we gave him hell for the fall, causing his super stuntman persona to emerge. It was the highlight of my Labor Day weekend.
Getting together with old friends and acting the way you used to is deeply refreshing. All three of us hadn't been together in two years but, of course, it really didn't seem to have been that long. We went over old stories that have been rehashed and refried dozens of times. We played the furious game of catch-up that friends do n with each person quickly spitting out the new news and trying to make it sound slightly better than what was just told. We had all managed to change while keeping the relation to each other the same.
After they left Monday afternoon and I had set my apartment back on its right end, I was overwhelmed when I realized the changes in my own life. I don't pine for the days of staying up all night, eating macaroni and cheese for every meal and moving piles around the coffee table looking for the remote. What saddened me was the change in my goals and ideals.
I got a sickening feeling that after jumping off of the drunken swing of life I'd landed in Compromise city. Sunny and 75 degrees with light wind out of the northwest, enjoy your stay sir. I used to ridicule the mundane. Now I'm holed up in my gated suburban apartment home watching television. I work a semi-regular five days a week, make just above what my rent and debt add up to and my girlfriend has me going to church every Sunday. We may even get married. Oh boy. Look out. I'm having a serious quarter-life crisis here.
What a pathetically classic tale. I used to be crazy and madly driven in all directions. I wanted to live in dirty warehouse spaces and sustain myself with canned food n painting and making music all day. Only a few short years later things are not quite like I'd planned.
My four-years-ago self hates my guts. He says I'm weak and I've failed. I try to tell him I'm happy and that everything is fine but he won't listen. He's too embarrassed to hang out with me but he still calls. I get an occasional e-mail from him but it's always full of spiteful questions so I don't always respond. He asks what I've been working on (he doesn't mean my job here, we went to art school and he's referring to my "personal work") and what new CDs I'm listening to. I tell him I haven't been doing much work lately and I'm way out of the loop on new music.
For me to be happy the older and newer me are going to have to work it out. I can't just shut him out anymore because he's not going away and I really don't want him to. I like him and I do respect his opinions. He says things I need to hear n it's tough love.
I've come off the swing and fallen into the woods like my old friend Morgan. Before I make any judgments on happiness I need to shake the mulch off and figure out exactly where I've landed and how I got here. Does anybody have a stain-stick that'll get this grass out?
Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.