November 15

            I never intended to sell the book, but there comes a point in a man’s life when you can’t continue to embark on this insanity of having 45 bills to pay day after day after day. 

            Of course, nobody’s ever been really serious when asking about the first edition of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Today someone’s not only serious but they give me a cashier’s check for it. 

            For $25,000. 

            There were only 5,090 copies printed, and the value comes in its opulent dust jacket with its original work of art on it. There’s also the fact that there’s an error on the jacket listing Hemingway’s previous book as In Our Timesinstead of In Our Time. A minor thing that makes it all the more valuable. 

            The gentleman who buys it is maybe in his sixties and shares his love of Hemingway and other literary icons. The man is wealthy and had seen I had this and had to have it. 

            So there. In one day I make 25 grand. 

            I have to give up my prized possession that’s haunted me for years since I’ve always known I had to sell it. I just never realized I’d get top dollar for it. 

            To say I’m ecstatic doesn’t quite explain how I’m feeling. 

**

            “Have you been experiencing any bits of short-term memory loss?”

            I hear the strange stranger’s questions in my head throughout the day. 

            “What if everything you know is wrong?”

            But today everything is right. For once. 

            “But you’ve been wondering about everything around you for the past fourteen days, have you not?”

            It doesn’t matter. 

            Listen Morpheus Obi-Wan Kenobi John Ryder meaning-of-life fella: I don’t want to hear about any of that shit. Just let me enjoy the rest of this day. 

            I’m definitely doing so. 

            I round up some buddies. Yes, I’ve got friends. Buddies. Mike and Jay and Kevin. Guys I’ve known for a while from various roles. A neighbor and a college buddy and someone who worked at the store for a year. I buy the drinks because God knows they’ve bought them for me. I press pause on the way life has raised its leg and taken a long piss all over me for as long as I can remember it. I hold on and let go with a little jubilee. And it feels good. God it feels good to not keep it in day after day. 

            The sun strays and slips away reminding me it’s no longer summer but November. 

            But of course I know that of course I remember of course it feels like my whole life. 

            Those IPAs stirring in my bloodstream prompt me to tell the guys what’s been going on lately but they’re not interested. They’re not going there. They don’t want to feel anything but simply want to make small talk like most guys. So I play along because that’s all I want to do tonight. 

            And when I head back home, I have a crazy headache and feel light-headed. 

            “What if you’re not the one dreaming, Nolan? What if someone is dreaming you?”

            Shut up, John Ryder. I don’t want to think about the question of reality. Reality? It’s a cashier’s check for $25,000. That’s the only reality I can see and feel right this moment. 

            I don’t feel boring anymore. I feel like a bright life. 

            One single book and one simple story from one celebrated author. An icon but not back then. Just a writer writing a book and filling pages and not being boring and pouring it out and then pouring it back in and telling his tale in this semi-autobiographical novel. 

            Tonight the moon is no longer super and no longer can be seen. And tomorrow I know without holding the book that the sun also rises. 

            I need a little bit more inspiration. 

            Can you feel it? 

            The joy I have inside driving back with the window down and the stereo blaring this new song and feeling this feeling of being light and possible. Of knowing the story might actually come to its conclusion and take me with it. 

            Wind brushes and shakes and chills. 

            God it’s good to feel alive. 

            There’s no way I’m slipping away, not today and not tomorrow. There’s no way I’ll be forgotten about, not with this windfall of hope. 

            Fighting sometimes means you have to let go. You have to let it be. You have to let the things you said would never happen simply happen. Like selling that first edition of The Sun Also Rises. 

            I don’t feel loss. I don’t feel crippled and don’t feel regret. 

            I’ve been fighting to stay alive longer than you know it, John Ryder. I’ve been waking and breathing and sleeping with a grit that’s gone unnoticed by all but the guy getting it. 

            Grit.

            I turn the song on louder.

            “It’s the same idea

            Over and over again

            The storm is here

            It’s the same idea      

            Over and over again  

            The storm is here

            The storm is here”

            Maybe it’s the same idea and maybe the storm is still here but I’m driving and doing something with it and I’ll solve whatever needs to be solved. 

            I want to paint this world with whatever color my soul currently happens to be.  And maybe to send a big fat SOS message to someone up there watching. Someone reading. Someone wondering. 

            The same idea over and over again. 

            Let me help you just a little more and little longer let me just help you turn the page it’s easy you know it’s quite easy. 

Submit a comment