Last night was a good night. Yesterday was a good day. I got a lot done, and also found time to sneak away for a movie and some drinks. At the bar, I got the excellent news that a short story I wrote was to be published in a lit magazine that I hadn’t been featured in yet. Smiles and high fives were exchanged with buddies, good feelings were shared. No money, of course, but they say that will come.
The buddies went home and I moved to a corner booth in the back. Time to go back to work. They know me at that bar, and they don’t care if I hang out for hours and type and drink water instead of beer. They remember what it was like to be young and poor and have big dreams. They smile sadly sometimes, I am part of that scene. They know I’ll type until bar close, and that they’ll see me again the next day.
My walk home is not through a nice area. I’ve come to learn that staying out a little bit later makes it slightly safer. At midnight, I run into the crazies, the junkies, the baby thugs. After two on a week night, most of them are passed out, and I can walk home without being bothered. I know that when I get back to my charmingly run down building in a charmingly run down part of the city, it will be alive with bartenders and strippers and musicians, all young and poor and full of dreams. This is where we can afford to live, and it unites us. We are all going places, but we know that most of us won’t make it. We are the have-nots, but we keep our heads up; our dreams keep us alive.
I’ll go bed with a sad smile and try not to wonder how long my money’s going to hold out, how I’m going to make rent in a couple months, whether this is truly worth it. I will wake up in a panic 45 minutes later, convinced that I’m wasting time with sleeping when I should be writing. I’ll rationalize that I’m too tired to write, and that sleep is absolutely necessary. I’ll toss and turn until six when I decide that no more sleep is happening, and that its time to get up and get moving, get back to work. I’ll throw on the same ragged black hoodie and broken black shoes that I wear everyday, that has become my uniform.
I’ll leave my building before the sun comes up, and while the decent people of the world are eating hot breakfasts with loved ones, I’ll walk through the rain back to the coffee shop. Back to the place where they know me, and don’t charge me full price. Where they’ll smile sadly because they remember what it was like to be young and poor and have big dreams. Along the way I’ll pass homeless men huddled in storefronts, trying to stay warm and dry in their sleeping bags, and I’ll wonder where their dreams went. Is this what their big dreams did for them?
I’ll sit down with hot black coffee, the main part of my diet these days, and I’ll write. Because my dreams are still alive. This is the part they don’t tell you about when they tell you to follow your dreams. The hot coffee and sad smiles from strangers. The struggle and the grind. The sleepless nights and the endless hours. So I guess this is life.