I remember my first cigarette. Maybe it wasn’t my first ever cigarette, but my first cigarette leading to the point of me being an addict. It was in Berlin, it was a Galouise Blonde, which I think is sort of a girls’ cigarette, but I’m not sure. Which I guess shows how much I care.
I remember my mother telling me my sister was a drug addict for the first time. It was on Valentine’s Day my freshman year of college. My long-time girlfriend had just broken up with me a week before and I’d ask her to be my Valentine even though we’d broke up, but she said no.
I remember when I thought I was in love.
I remember writing a girl a series of love notes on index cards, labeling each one progressively as Love Letter Number One, etcetera. Except things didn’t go so well with this girl, and the series never got past Love Letter Number One.
I remember After the Goldrush.
I remember All Things Must Pass.
I remember the day George Harrison died and how me and my friends at school were sad, even though we probably shouldn’t have been sad.
I remember taking a shit after this girl dumped me. There was no toilet paper so I used a Safeway advertisement.
I remember my brother out of the blue saying, it doesn’t ever seem like there’s enough. And me asking, enough what.
I remember creating a wedding gift registry just to convince myself that I would not be alone forever.
I remember taking the F train to work every day. When the train went over the Manhattan Bridge, I turned 180 and took in the view of the city. It seemed like nobody else noticed the view. I felt like a tourist, so I started facing the window before the bridge arrived, anticipating the view.
I remember on father’s day (2010) a few people called me and I answered and I could not talk to them without choking on crying so I hung up. And then some of them kept calling—and hearing the phone ring made me cry.
I remember going to prom and not wanting to dance.
I remember practicing dancing in my bedroom.
I remember a time immediately after my father’s death, being with my family, maybe just my brother and sister, me saying, or maybe just muttering, how I just thanked god it was dad and not mom (I was very upset). I remember my sister turning to me, giving me this sort of twisted-in-pain look. Then her saying, really? Why? I think exactly the opposite. (I hated her so much right then)
I remember dancing at prom.
I remember the first time I had sex with a particular girl. I didn’t come and I was embarrassed, but I wasn’t sure if I was embarrassed for me, or embarrassed for her, and I didn’t say anything.
I remember getting into the car with my brother and dad, then all of us guessing what time it was, then my dad turning the car on to find out what time it was and see who was closest. I remember my dad almost always winning. I remember my brother winning whenever my dad hadn’t won.
I remember my dad never giving me a break, beating me even at chess.
I remember a tennis coach once saying to me that nobody is invincible. I wanted to say, who are you to say, but didn’t say anything at all.
I remember not remembering anything about high school. And saying so to people who asked me about high school.
I remember thinking, this is it.
I remember thinking, hey, at least that’s one less person to call on Sundays. But then realizing, that didn’t really leave anyone to call on Sundays.
I remember being drunk after the bars closed and throwing a salt shaker into the wall. Then feeling stupid about throwing a salt shaker into the wall. And then feeling even more stupid for having spent half an hour picking up all the little pieces of a salt shaker.
I remember first learning that your nose and ears never stop growing, and being worried, because my nose was just barely small enough to be considered normal sized.
I remember telling my mother once in an email that I loved her. I was drunk.
I remember being drunk and walking home alone and shouting, when none of my other friends are there, Philip Morris is.
I remember telling a girl that I kissed her with my eyes open sometimes. She told me that that was scary or that it scared her or that it was weird. I don’t remember which exactly.
I remember smoking in bed with an ashtray resting on my belly.
I remember the first time I very straight-forwardly and honestly told a girl that I liked her. It didn’t go so well. But that didn’t stop me from continuing to use the strategy.
I remember there not being anything else to do but wait.
I remember doing cocaine with a girl at one of those very bohemian loft parties in Brooklyn because I wanted to sleep with the girl. And then somehow I got shy and didn’t ask her to sleep with me, but the next day I called her and asked if she wanted to see a children’s play with me, one that was written by Maurice Sendak. She said no and then didn’t ever talk to me again.
I remember discovering the difference between grief and mourning.
I remember when I decided to stop folding my underwear. I was listening to a song and the singer was talking about how some girl was so prissy that she folded her underwear. It hadn’t ever occurred to me that you can get away with wrinkled underwear.
I remember being very young, being in college, and calling up my sister and yelling into the telephone at the top of my lungs. Telling her that her drug addict bullshit was getting dad broke. Threatening her instead of offering some sort of support, because that’s what I knew how to do.
I remember thinking that our generation is one of moving back in with your mother until the shit storm passes.
DW Lichtenberg is the author of The Ancient Book of Hip (Fourteen Hills Press, 2009). He has been told he definitely knows how to be a loner when he wants to be. He hopes to one day write the Great American Bumper Sticker.