Cigarettes & Friends

for Drew and Joanna, East Sac magic.

You ever have those nights where the sky is so fucking clear, you swear you can see people picnicking on Mars? Their full spread lunch full of tuna fish and pickles and Cooler Ranch Doritos and probably an extra tall glass of YooHoo with a side of apple slices, all from your very own back patio? Yeah. Me, too. But I’ve never had my very own back patio, they’ve always belonged to friends. No matter how hard I’ve tried to make my own way in life, the best places have always belonged to friends.

I still look up, though. I’ve never stopped dreaming.

We smoke a lot of cigarettes when we hang out till 2am. Ain’t that the way it goes? The night is too clear sometimes, we gotta pollute the view a little bit. Artists are always trying to pollute something, to prove to ourselves that the struggle is real and we are in a constant state of survival. This isn’t true, but our acting like it is. Cigarettes remind us of our mortality, no matter how immortal we behave in our acts of inhaling them. I think about my lungs on nights like this, after 10 cigarettes, I think about home and about my inhaler and my nebulizer and I wonder: what the fuck am I doing? Addiction isn’t any easier the older we get. Don’t smoke.

And I begin writing, love is often the topic. Desire the most prevalent feeling. And I know that I want to see galaxies when I peek through the blinds of my bedroom. I want to feel galaxies from the person I let peek through these blinds with me. I am probably asking for too much, but I’m making up for all of the times that I’ve settled for too little. I deserve galaxies. Fuck, I deserve universes for how long I’ve let past lovers use me up. But I’m okay with all of that now, because now, all I can see are the possibilities of brand new views filled with nothing but clear nights, smoky lungs, and galaxies of naked skin just begging to be explored.

We write another song, my friend and I, basking in the star glow of this sprawling night. Sacramento summers are best for their late hour breezes. Never too cold to put a jacket on, but there’s a chill enough to light another cigarette in efforts to warm our writing hands by the glow of the smoky cherry. It works well enough, and so does the whiskey. Words are never more clear than when they pour themselves out from a bottle of Jack Daniels and time. We chase our art with pain. Telling stories of broken hearts and unlearned dreams. We scribble nonsense into existence and create something full of melody and truth. We open another pack of cigarettes.

We can’t find menthols anymore, so we bitch about that for a while. Neither of us enjoys regular smoke, we crave the tasty art behind the drag. Much like I imagine the ones that love us crave a bit of our passion for themselves, no matter how bad it might be for them. We are unpredictable adventurers, making beautiful messes wherever we go. Praise to the ones that find us endearing enough to put our bottles in the recycle bin. And to dump our overflowing ashtrays into the trash before we can remember how long we’ve been out here. Staring at the sky. Staring at all of the possibilities among the emptiest of lined pages. Staring at the flickering cursor with its rhythmic pulse begging us to write one more piece.

2am gets here faster than we wanted it to. And the folks picnicking on Mars are resting well enough in their beds. All I can see now are the discarded dishes from the lunch they had hours ago. Good for them. And good for us. There is new art in the world now. Our hands feel as tired as our minds. We take one last shot of time and say goodnight to the empty bottles and overflowing ashtrays. We find peace in the goodbye. After all, we’ll do this again tomorrow.

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