It was those dark eyes he promised himself. The way she seemed to look at you and then darted her attention away again. The way she appeared to not care about him at all. It was all these things that culminated in him falling for her subtle yet imposing charms. But the thing is this wasn’t the first time he had fallen hard for a girl with dark eyes, a wandering eye and a sharp mind. No, this was just the first of many. As he stared across the river to the gargantuan LP Field, he begun having one of those deep periods of contemplation. ‘How come I expect so much from everyone and yet I deliver so little back?’ He mused. Sure, he was fun loving and charismatic, but he had no clue on how to reveal his darker and more meaningful B-side. He considered this. You can’t just lay it all out there, people are wary of someone just throwing it all on the table as if you were at yet another Sunday spread with your overbearing in-laws.
No, this was very different. This was the source of his life spinning out of control, spluttering questions he had no idea how to answer. 20-some odd years old and still utterly clueless. The man with a full black book and nothing but a few passing thoughts during his morning shower to remind him of them. As fun as his drunken escapades had been, he had grown weary of the debauchery. Maybe just for a day or two, maybe for good. It must be said that he was known for his hyperbolic statements in the wake of another hazy evening however as the feeling came and went in his fingers he was forced to consider the other elements of his life. A pattern begun to emerge. He was a good singer, he was a good writer, he was a good conversationalist and he thought he was a pretty good lover and yet he had absolutely nothing to show for it. Did he simply expect too much, too young, a plight that many of his generational brethren suffered from? In his heart he didn’t believe this. His confidence, sky high when the pot was empty, completely slipped when the chips were laid on the table.
He had been told to ‘back himself in’ by his friends and family alike and still he doubted whatever abilities he had. He realised, possibly at that very moment as the flags flayed inconsistently, that he was the quintessential master of nothing. He wasn’t even sure if he was a jack of all trades. He had become just another meek man who was terrified of his shadow. All he ever wanted was to leave a legacy, a blot, anything to just show that he once was something.
As the sun emerged from the clouds, the steamy Nashville heat resumed its harsh whip of his neck. He winced in discomfort, exclaimed something inaudible even to himself and came to the conclusion at that moment that he was completely alone. People passed him by, smiled at this gawky tourist with the clumsy mouth but he couldn’t muster any sort of benevolent emotion in return. The only legacy he would leave in Nashville was that of another mopey backpacker. He couldn’t change their impressions of him, nor did he want to. They could think what they wanted and he could do the same. If he was going to be alone, he was at least going to do it with class.
His thoughts returned to the girl with dark eyes and a soft smile. She didn’t owe him anything either. Unfortunately for both parties, she was simply his kryptonite and his tolerance had all but eluded him for the time being. His mind started to create scenarios where he would sweep her off her feet. He hated how he kept doing that. He knew he lived in another galaxy when he was alone with his thoughts. He would sit down, guitar in his laps and sing his heart out. She’d find it a little creepy when he sung about the lost hours floating through sunflower meadows, sharing honey and peanut butter sandwiches with the girl with the dark eyes in his dreams however he’d win her over with his thick vibrato and heavenly falsetto.
He pulled himself back to the present with a strong tug. Barely acquainted with her and yet he was already creating her in his own image. The truth should have been so much more satisfying and yet he was so terrified of being portrayed as a creep or an overly forward suitor that he avoided the sober interaction. He knew if he truly cared about something he would have to release his true self, the one he didn’t unleash in fear of having his soul crushed when it became apparent that the truth just wasn’t quite as exciting as the falsities he had conjured up over the years. He wasn’t sure what the truth was anymore and yet he believed himself to be a most and honest human being. Who was lying and who was telling the truth, he asked himself in a fit of paranoia.
Not for the first time he was utterly lost in the world without a compass. However, this time he only had one answer he could offer up. He had to stop being so scared of failing, so scared of the darkness that would inevitably rear its ugly head from time to time and stop being so scared of who he really was. All the things he treated as a figment of his imagination were both things he could just manipulate like putty in his hands, but this was real and there was nothing he could do to alter this essential fact. At that moment he wept silent, useless tears. He couldn’t brush them back into his eyes and pretend they never happened. He couldn’t laugh them off and push it back to the darkest part of his mind either. He just had to accept that they were now a part of this real world.
As the pavement became illuminated in the light of escaping tears he started to laugh. ‘Ah, the triviality of it all,’ he thought to himself. There and then, things moved from the past to the present. He stood, paused and breathed deeply. He jumped down the stairs, felt the grass between his fingers then brought them up to his mouth to taste the earth. The taste was neither positive or negative. He was neutral just as the earth stoically remained constantly. It stayed true to itself. ‘Life, you moving sonuva bitch,’ he muttered out loud, imagining the wind would catch it and giggle along. It didn’t. It just kept doing the thing it was good at. It didn’t care that he had just come to a tremendous realisation that he knew everything and yet he knew nothing about, well, anything. In that short space of time he was at peace with his stature in the world because was in the here and now.
He wondered what the girl with dark was doing however he immediately checked himself, having enough self-awareness to conclude that he’d just made the same mistake he had been making his whole life. He sighed and laughed almost instantaneously, as he came to an understanding that he would never change no matter how much he protested against that indiscriminate fact. For once, neutrality overcame him. It didn’t bother him for he felt as real as the earth beneath his feet. .