High Above the City

I’m in the Executive Lounge on the 25th floor of the Hilton in downtown Austin. How did I get here? Not as groundbreaking as the Talking Heads song, that’s for sure. My old college friend — who is oh-so-attractive in a variety of ways — gave me access. She said to “just act like you’re one of them.”

Ha! I am one of them. Except that I don’t have the money they obviously do.

Money. That’s been bothering me a lot lately. Self-worth may not be tied to wealth, but basic survival definitely is — and working in progressive politics provides the former but not the latter. I work for the rights of others, but can’t afford my own apartment. I fight for social justice, but receive none myself. How is this fair?

This isn’t to bash my current employers — I am thankful for them. Without them, I’d be in the collection agencies’ targets. I’m speaking more generally, with a personal perspective, though.

So, financial problems. Housing problems. Many people have it worse — but I’m not them. I’m me, and all I know is what I experience, and so far this year, it’s been nothing but suck.

When it comes to women, my friends think I have a ton of options (Claire) and that I’m a badass player (Dave, Joaquin), but the truth is that I’m lonely. I have wonderful friends, but, romantically, I’m alone (aside from my dog, Lady).

And I haven’t felt this insecure in years.

I remember what I thought as an 18-year old in basic training with a bunch of fellow trainees in their mid- to late-20s: “I haven’t fucked up my life enough to be here yet.” Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t reached that point now — and even the military isn’t an option any more.

I wonder how long I can feel sorry for myself. (It’s only recently hit so hard.)

I’m in a hotel overlooking Austin — I can see my alma mater, St. Ed’s, and the Zilker Park Christmas tree in the distance — but I wish I were in any other city. Give me Cleveland or Cincinnati or Raleigh or Iowa City — anywhere.

To paraphase the George Thorogood song, if I’m going to drink alone, I’d prefer to be by myself.

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