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[personal profile] alchemystic
I suck at keeping in touch with people. I mean I really do.

There are a lot of people in my hometown that I haven't talked to or seen in 10 years or more. People I liked. People I held dear to me and thought of as lifelong friends. People I had adolescent crushes on, waaaay back in the days of slimmer waistlines and fewer gray areas in life. People I had more than just a simple crush on -- and some of them, I daresay, never had a clue.

I lost touch with most of them when I left Sarasota. I wanted to get out of that place so badly -- I felt my continued presence there to be a malicious thing, crushing me inexorably from within. This was not because of the friends I had there -- not at all -- but despite them. I hated that town with a searing, blinding passion. Part of me still wants to. It would be so easy to just slip back in to that easy cycle of malcontent... but I am choosing (choosing, mind you) to not do so.

And I did hate it. I hated Sarasota for never and always changing. I hated it for being smug and arrogant about itself and the money that simply oozed from every edifice on city street corners while not two blocks away you could find a drug deal being made in broad daylight, or a weary whore desperate for a five-dollar john. The way the city was so proud of its marina, or Saint Armand's Circle, or its two hospitals, or the obscenely affluent suburban areas that litter its landscape like a spread of expensive garbage. But I knew that if you looked closely enough, you would find the "real" Sarasota: homeless derelicts huddled under the Saint Armand's bridge, the run-down duplexes that branch off from East Road, the seedy bowling alley over by Publix near the jail. I always felt that Sarasota was an aged whore under a fresh coat of overdone makeup. Scratch that beautiful facade and just underneath you find the ugly truth.

See, in the 10 years or so since I last lived in Sarasota, I've seen and done many, many things. I don't flatter myself with the delusion that I am a wise man, or even a worldly one. But I've had experiences: I've been married, and subsequently divorced. I've broken several hearts and had my heart broken several times. I've seized some opportunities while letting others slip away. I've faced mounting debt, dealt with the cycles of work and sleep and living from paycheck to paycheck. I've been impoverished, and I've been comfortable. I've lived with (I almost said "battled", but most of the time I haven't fought hard enough to deserve the term) severe depression for my entire life, and it has affected those around me and those far from me; those in my life that I have cherished above all else have been burned by the pyre of self-pity that often accompanies depression.

(I hate self-pity. And hypocrisy. Particularly in myself.)

But now -- now I find myself returning. After 10 years (christ!) I am finally coming back to my hometown, the place I grew up. The town in which I got into my first fight. The streets on which I looked for new friends to play with every time we moved to a new house. The house in which I lost my virginity. The street corner (Tuttle and 17th) where I very nearly died. The downtown area, Main Street, where I had my very first job -- as a telemarketer. (Explains so much, doesn't it?) The mall -- that bloated, decrepit whore of a mall -- where I had so many different jobs. The church where I got married. The parking lot in which I proposed to my future wife. Memories and experiences assail me from every front in this place, and so many of them are not good memories that I have always found it easier to (if not impossible to avoid) focusing exclusively on those negative impressions.

You know what I've realized, though? I never hated Sarasota. Not a bit of it. I disliked it, certainly, for the reasons I've listed as well as a few I haven't -- but hate? No. Not hate for Sarasota. The hate I had -- and have -- was and is for everything I saw about Sarasota reflected in myself. The hypocrisy. The mistakes. The lies. The dual nature of the place. All of it I had incorporated into myself, and I couldn't stand to be reminded of the fact every time I saw another homeless woman scrounging for food in the dumpsters behind Michael's On East. So I wanted to leave, get away, get out of that place and away from its silent accusations. Where to go? Anywhere. Gainesville. North Carolina. Anywhere.

But I'm tired of running. I see people I knew and worked with now, today, particularly on MySpace -- and they have wonderful jobs, beautiful children, they're raising families. They're pursuing dreams, or helping other people achieve theirs. I am humbled by what I see when I look at their pictures -- they're smiling so widely, so happily. They look happy with how their lives have gone and are going. I know that such is probably not the universal case, but in comparison...

Well, I'm doing what I always do. I'm determining the quality of my life by comparing it to others'. Foolish habit to have, but one that can be hard to control if you don't recognize it for what it is in its early stages.

The upshot is: you win, Sarasota. I'm coming back. I always said you were a tar-baby, and damn if I'm not proving myself right. I may not have made the most of my attempt at sorting out this mess out here that you call "life", but perhaps if I return to square one -- you -- I can start over fresh. Or at least as fresh as I can at the ripe old age of 29.

I'll see you Monday.

Date: 2007-02-22 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No shit. Permanently? I thought I'd never hear those words come out of your mouth.

Date: 2007-02-23 03:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, me either.

Permanently? We'll see. Nothing is permanent while one is alive. I may leave Florida again, I may not. But if I do, it'll damn sure be for the right reasons.


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