Dave's Mental Meanderings
2003-10-29 19:37:27 (UTC)

So Damn Happy

Yesterday marked the end of a decidedly interesting
weekend. During the days leading up to the weekend,
nothing struck me as being out of the ordinary. I was
looking forward to it, in fact. I had planned to visit
Virginia Tech in good ol’ Blacksburg, Virginia for the
weekend. See some friends, drink some beer, smoke some
pot, and discuss plans for a miniature Zamboni driven by a
surly, disgruntled hamster. But that’s a different story
altogether. Anyway, things are still looking pretty
normal as I park at the rest stop 20 miles outside of
Richmond on my way to Blacksburg Friday afternoon. I get
out of the car sporting wingtip shoes, a pink oxford
shirt, and aviator sunglasses. I realize that I’m being
sized up as a strange character by many of the other rest
stop patrons, which was probably due in no small part to
the fact that I was spitting tobacco juice onto the ground
every 30 seconds from my delicious snack of Skoal. As if
my zesty wardrobe didn’t attract enough attention. Not
that dip (snuff, chewing tobacco, whatever the fuck you
want to call it) is at all uncommon in rural Virginia, but
it is usually not found in the possession of a person who
owns and is not embarrassed to wear a pink shirt, aviator
sunglasses, and wingtip shoes.

Anyway, it would appear that I have become sidetracked.
Allow me to return to the topic at hand. The goings-on of
the weekend. Well, to make a long story short, a lot of
shit didn’t go as well as it could have. I didn’t have a
bed to sleep in since I sub-lease my room out to someone
when I’m in Richmond for the semester, and none of my
roommates were gone for the weekend. So I had to sleep on
the sofa bed. In addition to the sleeping accommodations,
one of my roommates had been letting his cat run loose in
the apartment. Not only do I hate cats, but so does my
respiratory system. I felt sick as a dog all weekend.
Other highlights of the weekend include my car getting
shot with paintballs, having to piss away $40 for a
locksmith to unlock my car (I locked the keys in my
trunk), and an altogether shitty drive through the pouring
rain and busy traffic back to Richmond while I was
entirely too stoned to be driving in such conditions.

So why am I so damn happy? Why can’t I wipe the big fat
grin off my face? Sure, the weekend wasn’t a total bust –
I had a good time with some good friends, I got to spend
some time with Brandy, and there was plenty of good solid
relaxing. Despite the shit that went wrong, the weekend
was more good than bad. But that doesn’t go far enough to
explain my euphoric mood. So what is it then? What is
the cause for my irrational happiness? I’ll tell you.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve been realizing more and more
that I’m on the right track. There you have it. That’s
all it comes down to. I don’t know quite where I’m going,
but I know that I can’t go wrong now. I’ve served my
sentence, I’ve bided my time, I’ve cleared my head… and
now I’m finally on the right track. I’m not there yet,
but I’m finally on my way. And no matter what happens,
I’m in the right mindset to make the right decisions, and
I think everything’s going to work out. I’m through with
deluding myself, I’m through with living up to other
people’s standards, I’m through with dead-end
relationships. As Bruce Springsteen said, “I’ve got a new
suit of clothes and a pretty red rose and a woman I can
call my friend.” As Billy Joel said, “I don’t care what
they say anymore, this is my life.” As Tom Petty
said, “Yeah yeah ooh yeah yeah.” That’s right, I just
quoted a song lyric that contains no actual words. And I
don’t think any lyric in any song by any artist (not even
Dylan, Springsteen, Mark Nopfler, Billy Joel….) hits me as
hard as that lyric does when I listen to it these days.
It’s from the song No Second Thoughts, on the album You’re
Gonna Get It. The way Tom belts out that “yeah yeah ooh
yeah yeah” at the end of every verse with such immense
verve and soulfulness makes me want to scream out, “FUCK
YES, GODDAMN RIGHT I’M ALIVE!!!” But anyway, I have
digressed once again. I think perhaps an even better
quote to serve as a manifestation of my recent elation is
not one from a rock star, but from yours truly. Who
better to put my own feelings into lyrical form than
myself? So try this one on for size: “I know I can beat
the odds on the street in this wide-eyed world I’ve
found.” I’m not going to explain it, because it doesn’t
need to be explained. Just go to my journal entry from
9/3/03, which is the poem called A Season of Change, and
dig it yourself.

Anyway, quotations aside, it may seem a little odd that
I’ve been feeling this good for 6 months and I’ve just now
decided to write about it. Well, here’s my reasoning.
The first 4 months of that was the summer. And summertime
can have a profound effect on a person, especially if that
person had as good a summer as I did. At the beginning of
the summer, I had recently gotten out of a relationship
that had gone bad and was no good for either party
involved, I had just passed my annual drug test for my
employer so I could finally resume getting high on a
disturbingly regular basis, I pulled off a 4.0 GPA for the
hardest semester that Virginia Tech has thrown at me yet,
I returned to Richmond for 8 months of working a cushy job
and living it up with my old high school buddies, and I
started dating a really cool chick that I met during the
spring semester. So there were plenty of things going on
this summer to make me feel good, whether or not I really
had things sorted out in my head. But now, as you can
tell by the title of the poem I quoted earlier, or simply
by looking at a calendar, the seasons have changed. It’s
autumn now. No more driving around stoned on those warm
summer nights, no more playing Frisbee with my friends in
Blacksburg in a big field on a sunny Saturday afternoon,
no more cook-outs and outdoor beer drinking. And while
some things that made this summer so great aren’t gone,
they’ve lost their novelty. Brandy and I are dating, so
the excitement of wondering whether or not she digs me is
long gone. I still hang out with my high school buddies,
but the feeling of being reunited is long gone.

But I still feel so damn good. The external stimuli that
were present all summer are now gone, yet I still know
that I’m on the right track. I’m where I’m supposed to be
right now. I’m a long way away from anything that might
be called a destination, but I’ve got myself pointed in
the right direction. A guy named Steve Schweitzer whom I
used to work with at Leonardo’s Pizza once imparted some
very lasting advice upon me. To be honest, he did that
more than once, but the most memorable thing he ever said
to me went something like this:

“Probably about 85% of the people in this world will never
ask themselves the most important question a person can
ask himself. That question is, ‘Am I happy?’ Of the 15%
who, at one point in their lives, stare themselves dead in
the face and bring that earth-shattering question out into
the open, probably only 15% ever do what it takes to
answer ‘yes’ to that question.”

I couldn’t agree more. And after much bullshitting around
over the past few years, I’m finally staring myself dead
in the face and asking, “Am I happy?”