These are the Rules. My Rules.

September 24, 2010

I like the city at 5am. I like the quiet, damp streets, and the way my dashboard glows. I used to listen to music in the morning, but not anymore. Now I listen to my tires on the road. Sometimes I think I can hear the streetlights changing — the green a slightly higher pitch than the red (like a TV on in the other room). But this probably isn’t true. It’s probably just that my senses are heightened in the morning, and everything seems louder, brighter, sharper. So while I think I can hear colors — hear lights — I can’t.

Sometimes I get to Starbucks and don’t remember driving. This, I think, is probably dangerous.

I almost bought a sweatshirt the other night. I liked the way it fit. It made me feel important, or maybe artistic, and so I wanted it. I liked that I could buy it if I wanted, because I have a job and make money and can buy things. I liked thinking about all the stuff I would do in that sweatshirt. Maybe it would become my thing. Maybe I would leave it somewhere and someone would hold it up and people would say, oh yeah, that’s Mike’s sweatshirt.

I put it on and took it off a few times. Walked around with it. Walked around without it. In the end, I decided not to get it, and now I regret it.

When I was younger, I used to stand at the checkout counter for 10 minutes agonizing over which candy bar to choose. I imagined scenarios: I get the Butterfinger and realize I wanted the Snickers. I get something fruity and realize I wanted something chocolaty. I tried to picture myself in the backseat of our Town and Country van, unwrapping some yet-determined candy bar, and I strained to see what it was and if I was enjoying it.

I tried to see the future.

Eventually my mom would make me choose. She would count down from 5, and I would panic. My eyes would dart from wrapper to wrapper, hoping one would choose me instead of me having to choose it — that it would wave its arms and shout “over here! over here!”.

In the end, I would always get skittles.
And I would always regret it.

I bought a car a few weeks ago. Janessa and I probably went to 7 dealerships, and I was sick and exhausted and knew the decision was big, but it still wasn’t as big as those 5 seconds at the checkout counter.

I’ve tried to cut decisions out of my life. I drink venti bold coffee. I buy white v-neck tshirts. I get fried rice and double orange chicken. I buy Moleskine journals. I buy Uniball G-2 pens. I buy everything Sufjan Stevens puts out — no question. I buy things that are grey. I buy things that are white. I buy things that are brown. I get the number #1 at Mcdonalds, and the grilled chicken ranch wrap from the 3rd floor.

These aren’t just preferences. They are rules. My rules. And when I stand at the check out counter now, 15 years later, as an adult, married, spending my own money, I still choose skittles every time. I don’t know why. I just don’t think about it anymore.

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