“Ah, man its your first time? Dude, it’s fucking crazy!”
“Yea man just remember not to freak out or anything, the first time I did it I…”
Their reassurance gets swept to the back of my mind as I stare blankly into the magical eight dollar cube of sugar in my hand. It’s barely 7 p.m. on a Wednesday, and my new college boyfriend and I bought five hits of sugar cube acid in quarters. I’m sitting in a dimly lit basement apartment on a stiff, plaid couch that most be from at least 1970. The room is full of faces that are slowly becoming more and more common in my life. I’m thinking of all the homework I should be doing, and about the handmade card with cartoon elephants and hearts my Christian friend from high school made me, asking me all about my new life, and how terrified she’d be to hear about my newest expeditions.
“Don’t be scared.”
Levis voice snatches me back from my dreamy haze. “Yeah, I’m not,” I reply as I kiss his cheek and excitedly throw the sugar cube into my mouth, ready for this trip and more.
The all-too familiar clanking of glass hitting a tiled bar shoots me four years forward in time to my most current reality, The Smiling Skull. “One more Strohs, Merle?” I ask rhetorically, already knowing the answer.
I can’t seem to get myself to stop reminiscing on the beginnings of past relationships, thinking back to when things were new and before the notion of a life apart slips in. I stare out into the crowd before me full of ex-wives, ex-friends, current girl friends, past hookups and am not totally overwhelmed by the retrospect of the average persons life, of all the phases we go through of all the people we meet, or fuck, or love, or cry with, or do an absurd and at times dangerous amount of drugs with. At one point in my life my past was something I couldn’t get over: growing up too poor to understand what it was like to go to the mall, having to be mature enough to form my own morals and judgments before I hit puberty, forming eating and drug habits like that of a pre-rehab Nicole Richie, looking my family and friends in the eye and telling them over and over, “Nah it’s cool guys, being 95 pounds isn’t that big of deal…,” or taking over a year too long to admit that I never really loved that person, and so on and so on. I used to lay awake and think of all the people I’ve known, and all that’s gone down between us, and be too overwhelmed to grow from it.
As my time at the Skull has lengthened and with it my relationship with its customers, seeing their lives past and present right before my eyes, I’ve realized the most important fact of life: everything comes to an end. People fall out of love, they move away, their once light-hearted partying can take an ugly turn and there’s nothing you can do about it, except accept it and realize that in the words of wise Semisonic—“every new beginning really does come from some other beginnings end.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ashleigh, we’ve got to get some new songs for that jukebox.)
Maybe you’re all reading this like, “fucking duh,” but this concept was something that wasn’t quiet present in my life until I worked at the Skull and got to see the varied lives people have lived. Hearts get broken all the time and soon something even more wonderful will grow in its place. Friends leaving just means you having a cool city to visit anytime, and a hard childhood just makes you an even harder and more badass adult. Instead of lying awake now with regret, I look back on my life with total awe and gratitude because life goes on and nothing is really that big of deal. Without all of my past mistakes or adventures or relationships I wouldn’t be the person I am today, who I finally totally love.