A boy, around the time his voice deepens and his face goes taut, lives through a season of new reckonings. It may take him years to put it all together, but it is then that the truths of his life, in fragments, begins to properly wax for the first time. In fact, he may one day look back at this moment and see in it the start of a manhood that was naught but a series of such realizations compounding.
For the luckier ones, it amounts to a slight loss of love— to the small tightening of their belts, perhaps drowned out by other, more obvious changes. Unlucky ones instead have things wrenched away, their epiphanies clubbed into them and no chance to naively stumble upon the world, for better or worse. But each boyhood enchantment must go, and as it loosens and falls like a baby tooth, must too leave a hardness in its going, a callous that may need its salve.
The boy, though it may take him years, will one day look back and see that he lost his access to other people somehow, at least in the boyhood sense. It will seem that in passing the world quietly shut its gates to him at one point or another along the road. He finds that he is at times frightening and suspicious to mankind, and may even rather suddenly come to agree with them on the matter. Otherwise he is to be swept out of thresholds, to have eyes leveled at him from every pillar and to trip over the roots of every tree in his wandering. He will realize that he is a stray, a lone man in episodes, and isn’t gifted with that same intrinsic and agreed upon value as a woman or a child. He is worthless driftwood until he jostles those gates back open with his use or ability, his charm or his power, his virtues or his lies.
Falling, as they do, in quick and rapid strings, this realization will lead to others, to ideas that he has perhaps already been fearing: that his life is little, and will always be little. It is the serious and earnest drama of his life that is invented, stupid, and in truth his grand struggles may be no more than a petty revolving.
It is dangerous then, when we see that his discovering of alcohol may coincide with so many other new things. He looks and finds that there is a shortcut back to his lost childish feelings of acceptance and profundity silently waiting in the bottom of every empty bottle. He will notice a stopper in the depths of that basin, one that he only need pluck to drain out every new and unfortunate certainty.
To drink. To drink is to hear the music of gates flying open for miles, of flimsy balsa bridges being driven into the silt of every river, to return to that round faced boy who was judged far better than his worth by rule of humanity’s generous thumb.
In its chemical magic, it loosens our every mechanism, the needless and the necessary both.
Alone in the big city, he drinks and is no longer alone and the buildings loom lighter over the shining bay. That sad agreement that ties the late night drinkers together as they break bread in the square is his, and it is as if he was one of them all along. One among many, he remembers. He struggles with ruin anyway and suddenly the war becomes public and understood, the need to wreck and numb will be quietly nodded over by a red-faced council, that need to love a stranger will be hoisted high by many withering hands. Tell him that it isn’t real, that friendship comes from a slow building, a maintenance over years; tell him, dying of thirst in the desert, not to follow his eyes to the water against the chance that it is a mirage.
But somewhere along the long slog of a life the will to live has to be declared –sober and in a way that embraces boredom for the thing it is, a thing that must be battled from within and not without.