I used to smoke in my backyard on Sunday mornings in high school. My family would go to the 9:30 mass, so I had the house to myself. I would play 90s Filipino Alternative Rock–Parokya ni Edgar, Eraserheads, Rivermaya and others–and smoke illegally-bought cigarettes, watching the light gray smoke pretend to be cumulus clouds against the perfect blue sky.
I was aimless then and I miss that. I miss not caring about all the bullshit that I’ve spackled my mind with: make more money; climb higher on the corporate ladder to nowhere; upgrade your phone; get a nicer car; decorate your walls with diplomas.
There’s nothing wrong with bettering your situation, with improving yourself, and striving for success. However, when you lose sight of what you wanted to accomplish in the beginning, then you’ve strayed too far. At least for me.
You see, I had plans of “changing the world.” That’s cliche now because the new generation of Millennials are very proactive in fighting injustices. So much so that a negative term was invented to describe these do-goooders: Social Justice Warrior.
The funny thing is, none of my peers were into that back in high school. I was the odd kid out who talked about revolution, political philosophy, the crises in Africa, the rise of the military industrial complex, etc. I wasn’t even a liberal. I believed in a combination of capitalism and socialism (i.e. social entrepreneurship) in terms of economics and I was a textbook anarchist in terms of politics.
But I digress.
There were a lot of things I wanted to do that didn’t match with what I was “suppose” to do–what I was expected to do. Now I’m stretching my entire body to try and reach back to my roots and have my feet planted in reality at the same time.
I used to smoke cigarettes and converse with my friend, Harris, out on my driveway from midnight until sunrise. In the summertime, that’s about 6 hours. He’s in the Pacific Northwest right now, “slaving in this whack ass corporate shit,” as he likes to phrase it.
All I need is a person to talk to and trade ideas with. It’s the only time I’m completely honest and open and exposed and unfiltered.
When I was younger, I worked at a shitty restaurant that had a dysfunctional management. They were good people, but didn’t know how to run a business properly. That meant that us waiters and busboys and cooks had to work under a lot of pressure, especially when we were catering a wedding party or corporate event at our ballroom.
I would take a 10-minute break and lean against the wall on the side of the building or in the alleyway. I would light up a cigarette and look at the moon and stars.
I would tell myself, like a mantra:
“One day, you’ll be far away from here.”