I'd been building up waste on a couch for a few days. Writing eats into my free time like the moths do into my sleeping bag every few weeks. I'd been trying pretty hard to absorb some piece of life. For weeks I did nothing but read. Kerouac. David Foster Wallace. Nodes nodes nodes.

I'd been writing, anyway. I read a lot. I focused on people who knew what the meaning of life was. I tried to absorb their philosophies into my own.

Fuck, I spat out stream of consciousness twenty-four hours a day, on paper and out loud.

"You know, when I was a kid, I used to stare out the window like that."

"What?" Ashley turned from the window, which she was staring out of beautifully.

"When music was playing. I'd look out the window like I was in a music video, one of those ones with acoustic guitars. The video would just be a tape of me and my reflection in the window, singing along with the song."

"Oh." Usually, this sort of thing interested her. Hell, it always interested me to hear these little pieces of people's lives. Glimpses of the soul, or so books would have me believe.

I think that I tried to explain it again, but it didn't really get me anywhere. Nobody else that I know felt like it mattered to write, to paint, to sing, to express yourself. A friend of mine wrote a novel, for Christ's sake, but I hadn't read it, because he hadn't shown it to everybody. I couldn't help but show every single thing I produced to somebody. I longed to play songs in concerts for millions of screaming fans -- screaming poets, if possible, who actually understood what I meant. I needed to be a published author. To be a great artist.

I wanted to know that I had changed one person.

I started finding myself trapped by the need to exhibit everything about myself in a public venue like this, but I couldn't seem to help it.

I have a yearbook in my room. There are signatures in the back that are the usual yearbook faire, signatures from a bunch of people that I haven't seen since. One is particularly intriguing, though. After a long period of content about memories and some such, I have

"Oh, and although it doesn't quite fit -- you're beautiful :)"

written in a hasty manner at the bottom of the message, a few minutes before I left.

Everybody else just talks about what great times we had, the crazy poets that they are. And they were great times, by and large, but that's not what I mean.

On the last day I had a sing-along in a converted bank vault, playing "Leaving On A Jet Plane" by ear, which I can't do, and singing in this really desperate manner to try to get everybody else started. Almost nobody obliged to do so. It was a little sad that I'd spent the better part of three weeks in that vault by myself instead of outside with the people that I wouldn't see anymore.

I don't even remember what we talked about. I know we talked about things. Things besides the White Stripes and Fudgesicles and algorithms and wigs. We talked about those plenty, I mean. But there had to be something deeper that I had forgotten about.

Can I say "ebullience"? The girl in question had ebullience about her, assuming that that word means an insane aura of joy and energy. We were quite the crew of social misfits, kings and queens in our arenas, a staggering pile of inspiration that everyone else certainly must have looked up to in awe. We sat on the outskirts while the loud music played and did the Wave with our legs from third-story balconies. We sang bohemian rhapsody at the top of our lungs until our voices were pained and bloody.

We had something funny and special here that none of us went back to afterwards. Here we were inspired, we were geniuses recognized in our own time, changing ourselves a thousand times a day but staying a little too quiet and awkward around each other.

We are the people who can discuss Nine Stories and all secretly find the same meaning in it. None of us died. We are now a thousand miles apart each (mostly) and sit here in our little worlds of quiet. We are isolated now. Who are any of us supposed to talk to?

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