The last time I was in a public place on purpose with more than one person was almost a decade ago. I mean a time when I had to wear long pants, a shirt featuring buttons, hands washed really well, and no baseball cap on my head.
Under my bed are over one dozen pair of creepers; candy apple patent leather, chessboard, faux leopard skin, blood red, blue suede… I have four other pair of shoes I’ve purchased over the past three years with the express intent of ‘wearing them on a date.’ These shoes remain in mint condition on a shelf.
Folded neatly in a drawer are eight pair of 501s, the good ones with the tapered leg like back in the day. Leather belts are loosely rolled to the side.
Hanging in my closet are some classic bowling shirts; the subtle, cool ones with diamond-cut patterns, boomerang silhouettes, and starburst, next to some grey, long-sleeved shop shirts. Classic standards.
Occasionally I will put on these clothes and stand in front of my mirror, picturing myself without this big, stupid beard, a younger man with a sharp jaw and some prospects.
That was a long time ago.
I sit down beneath a heavy cloak of resignation, unbutton my shirt, then untie my shoes. Standing, I gently grab the top of the fly and rip down four buttons with one smooth motion. My socks are white, always white with creepers, and they come off inside-out. I leave them on the floor.
All of this reminds me to feel something, even if it’s a canned memory from that time when I thought I was a charming boy, before the world clutched me by the scruff and flung me headlong into a world I was ill-prepared to face. Those weren’t the best times, but hope was young back then.
I climb into bed and hope to dream.