One day all of this will make sense.
In the meantime, put your best foot forward. Describe yourself as the cheerful, interesting and intelligent personality a large segment of society seeks to be acquainted with. Smile, but not too wide. Don’t forget to use a breath freshener. Brush any dust or dandruff off your shoulders. You too can look neat and proper. Don’t speak too fast; they can’t make out what you’re saying. Stand up straight, my boy.
This is not an introduction to me. This is not who I am.
That’s alright. It don’t hurt no more.
Some days it is intolerable how nice people are, how easy it is to depend on the kindness of strangers. You helped me reach the pier and the ferry to Belfast on time, though your niece barely escaped Bali and the blast and you were wary. Decency won out this time. I only wished it did all the time.
And there will always be that three a.m. and the Spanish girls we picked up in the storm and that wedding on the dance floor and that last cigarette I bummed off you.
“Hi, there. I’m Kenny. What’s your name?”
Translations lose me. Left behind in the quagmire of syntax and conjugations, I can only reply with a maybe. It’s always the safest choice. No promise of yes or no. Neither here nor there. In the confusion, we find our answers. No I love you‘s. No I don’t love you‘s. Just: I. You. Love.
“Hallo. Ich bin Kenny. Wie heißen Sie?”
“You aren’t from around here, are you?”
No longer recognizable. Always stereotypes. Who I am is how you see me. The bohemian nerd or the well-educated derelict? Does it matter? We shall be stars, all of us, bright, shining, happy. (Stars fade, and fall. Goodbye.) Once, I had an idea of who to be; now only traces remain.
I used to be me.
These scars we carry, some call them tattoos, beats of ink on our skin that do not smear, frozen pain you can’t wipe away. The tempo, ba-di-da-dum, ba-di-da, ba-di-da, it kisses your mind and you can’t erase these blinding beads of sorrow, strips of black & white film that is not nostalgia, only wretched memory. There is no honesty in recollection, not even when the evidence is stamped on our very own flesh.
Of course, none of this is true.