I remember a winter night in Brooklyn long ago.  On one hand it was a great night.  I raised a cup of Belvedere with Mase from De La Soul.  I danced with a very tall girl whose legs could have choked the life out of me.  And I got drunk for free in a crowded room full of entertainment media’s finest. 

There was a good hour and half towards the end that was kind of foggy. I found myself wandering the room with a point-and-shoot, snapping pics of whatever and whoever caught my fancy.  Someone who I thought of as a little sister was there, as was my best friend, as were half the people I knew.  But when I exited the party early on a winter Sunday morning, staggering the multiple blocks to my lodge, I felt like I was missing something.  As a matter of fact, it almost felt like I wasn’t there at all. 

The morning after, while recovering from a category two hangover, I ended up at a brunch where I introduced myself to a woman who I had already met the night before.  Before I could apologize she told me that it was ok. I was drunk, but I was cool, just doing my own thing.

But it bothered me. 

When I made the physical assessment of my life everything seemed to be in place. Sure I had less money than I’d had in the years before, but I was making my rent.  I was still going out nights.  And I’d occasionally meet a woman who interested me.  

But I wasn’t happy.  

This wasn’t some out loud declaration.  But it was something I knew.  I just didn’t know what to do about it. 

So I retreated from the world, hiding in clouds of smoke between mirrors.  Once cable went out I did the piracy thing at a local coffee shop.  I wrote two books under a pseudonym.   I got a 9 to 5 hoping that I’d get promoted so I could hide behind a desk.  But my boss refused to give me a desk slot.  

“I don’t want you to stop writing,” she said.  But that, however foolish, was exactly what I was trying to do. 

Being God, he was onto my plan before it was fully executed.  I went out for orange juice and Excedrin and fell into an abyss.  

The days and months ran together.  I woke up in different places, as chauffeur and nanny, as dejected and betrayed friend, as healer and the afflicted.  Each room was coated with kerosene.  Each step I took was the spark from a match.  It all burned, and kept burning. 

I couldn’t stay in any house long enough to pick up the remote and get comfy.  The Hail Marys that used to win games made a habit of falling short.  I’d stopped drinking long before. But the problems continued.  I prayed and I meditated and I changed it up, but I kept ending up covered in ashes.  

I kept dying, like a cat who couldn’t count.  But just when it seemed like I was about to flatline, lightning came down from the heavens and jumped me back into Purgatory.  I just didn’t get it. 

Then one day I found myself under the rubble of myself, bound and gagged and sedated by hidden enemies who no longer cast a reflection.  I fell into that lifeless vessel.  And then his eyes opened.  What I saw was a world I had never seen before, but one that had been there all along. 

I walked miles upon miles soaked in soot. Then I came to a river.  The boy I expected to see in the water’s reflection was gone.  What I saw was the man I had always wanted to phone me from the future, to tell me that everything was going to be ok. 

I used to be afraid of the fire underneath my cool surface.  I was scared that it would scar me if I ever let it rage out of control. Then someone dropped a live grenade into the furnace within my chest.  But after it went off I stood there, still in one piece, without a single burn.

I had tried to incinerate every trace of myself.  And yet I still was. When I turned back to the road I found a fork in it.  I could go where I’d be done. Or I could go back the way I came and see if it led me to the same place where I started.

I never got back to the brownstone doorstep I had pined for. Instead I found a village of those who had walked the same trail.  Time is a mystery wrapped in a riddle of self.   I guess I figured it out when I was supposed to and found my way…home.