A Celebration of The Millionth Mark to Land in Oakland, California

He’s careening over a puddle of booze that is languishing precariously at the bottom of his cup. His phone is plugged into a charger in the wall, and he’s alone, like he always is, at this bar. As usual, he is having a half conversation with himself that seems to involve someone who isn’t here. I guess he’s an imaginative guy – the kind to imagine that after enough alcohol someone is sitting next to him and engaging him in conversation. This is his life. This is the life he has chosen to live. He has a job, of course, at one of those companies out there in San Francisco, but his life these days seems to consist mostly of drink after drink after drink. A discourse of emails regarding mundane things. The wedding ring on his finger which brings no comfort with his ass on this hard, wooden bar stool. He is still alone, although later he might not be alone. There might be new friends or old friends later on in the day. But for now, he is alone, with his drink to keep him company. There is a charismatic bartender flitting in and out of his peripheral vision, occasionally reminding him that everything is okay, and that it is okay to be sitting here drinking alone with his phone full of emails, and his wedding ring, and his 30% tip, and not to fear tomorrow’s hangover because what he should really be worried about is the day after tomorrow’s hangover. But that’s okay because he can get drunk in between hangovers, so that’s what counts. He sits there and spouts off empty philosophies about a life well lived, splicing himself and his life experiences into this image he has in his head of what life should be like. He pushes himself into that box. He gets too drunk. He leaves. He goes home or somewhere else. He prints out a label that reads “dream life” and sticks it on himself. He’s not sure if that label is there because he has earned it or because it is purely aspirational. That is something for the rest of us to judge, which is why we are sitting here, ogling him from outside. We are on the sidewalk outside of the fancy bars and the fancy restaurants and the new scions of culture that claim to define the city that once defined us. We are outside, looking in at the people and the places that have taken us away from ourselves, and it is strange because in a quiet way we are okay with it. Which doesn’t mean that we aren’t feeling the sharpness of loss and sadness, but, rather, we are okay with not being the sad man sitting sadly at the bar by himself getting drunk while nothing else waits for him. We may be destitute in these streets, but we have each other, so please hold me. I would rather be kept warm by the embrace of someone who loves me in the soot of these streets than heated up by the empty promises of alcohol and money I don’t deserve in a city where I don’t belong.