Nostalgia for the bad times

When I was a teenager, I guess I was what you'd call emo. I thought that everything had this impossibly deep meaning that spoke to me and I was this special snowflake and no one could ever understand the abyss of pain I felt inside.

I have volumes of notebooks from that period. Some bad poetry, but mostly angry or suicidal ramblings. When I was old enough to drive, I'd just drive as fast and as far as I could before I figured I had to turn around or I'd get in deep shit. I always drove west. East was out; there's a big lake there, but why I never went north or south, I can't figure.

I smoked. Not a lot. Mostly to be rebellious. I thought I was tough. I guess, considering what I've been through, that I am. People have used the word "resilient" more than once. I smoked Marlboro Reds for a long, long time, until my lungs couldn't handle it and I switched to Lights. Lighting up a cigarette was automatic once I'd started the car. I couldn't have coffee - or later, beer - without a cigarette.

I didn't drink much until college, and then there were a fair amount of drunken nights. I always seem to pull myself back from the brink; it's like my home is right at the edge of the cliff. I remember laying down in the middle of campus, looking at the stars, because it just seemed like the thing to do, and I don't think I could have walked much farther.

It's ironic that someone with panic disorder has taken so many risks. I could have died 500 times over. People call me "adventurous" and I just laugh. I wasn't adventurous, I just didn't give a shit whether I lived or died. Nothing, nothing seemed to matter. It was a perverse kind of freedom of feeling. I expressed it in all kinds of unhealthy ways, I guess, but I did something. I didn't fucking sit around on my ass and watch TV and silently hate.

And I guess that's what I'm nostalgic for; I miss feeling dangerous. I miss the will to destroy myself. That seems so bizarre at first glance, but I think that what adulthood brings is a complacency around misery. We just accept so much monotony and disappointment, we let ourselves get trapped in situations we don't much care for, we fail to acknowledge that angst that never really went away in adolescence.

That angst was my friend for years. That angst made me do a lot of things I probably shouldn't have done, but none of which I regret. Everything I regret has happened during my so-called adult life and is the result of acting responsible or mature instead of being true to myself.

I miss Highway 18 at two in the morning. It will just never be the same.

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