I’m about to go fucking skydiving, dude! Can you even believe it? Probably, because I’ve done it many times before. I’m such a fucking daredevil, right? I must be fucking nuts! I must be living life to its fullest, squeezing the most out of every fucking moment! Right?
The truth is — the deep, dark truth I’ll never share with you or anyone else, that even in my lowest moments I can barely admit to myself — I’m so bored. Oh my GOD am I BORED! I mean, think about it, dude. I still live in my hometown, population 6,000. I’ve never lived anywhere else, except for when I went to college an hour and a half away in a slightly bigger but otherwise identical town. As a real estate agent, I spend all day trying to sell people my high school friends’ parents’ houses for Christ’s sake.
Sure, Tiffany is great, but I’ve known her since we were 12-years-old. There’s not exactly a lot of excitement left in our relationship. Some of my buddies are still around, and every Wednesday night we go to one of the two bars in town and get drunk and talk about old times, back when things were better, although if I’m being honest (which, as I’ve clearly stated, I never will be), the only thing that differentiates our lives now from our lives at 16 is the absence of hope.
Sometimes I wonder if things will ever change. By now I know how rarely chance intervenes, that if I want things to change, I’m the one who has to change them. I know that, as a person with free will, I can theoretically do anything at any time. I could call Tiffany right now and tell her I’m finally ready to have kids and settle down for real, or I could break up with her and, for the first time, see what it would be like to be with someone else. I could get a different job, or a similar job in a different town, or even try city living. I could move to New York City, or Buenos Aires, or Tibet. I could start drawing again, or finally try stand-up comedy, which I’m sure I’d be great at. I could become one of those guys who wears wool hats in the summer. I could, in theory, be anyone or do anything.
But that seems like a lot of work! Even the hat thing would require a level of commitment I’m just not ready for. So instead, I will jump out of an airplane again. I’ll pay top dollar for the package that comes with a videographer, and I’ll put that video on social media and wait for the praise to roll in.
“Holy shit dude — you’re crazy!”
“What the fuck man! This is nuts!”
“Oh my God — you’re really living on the edge, bro!”
“You’re such a daredevil, my dude!”
“Wow! Your wild stunts always inspire me :)”
I will read these comments while sitting on the couch next to Tiffany, barely paying attention to “This Is Us” (which, by the way, is exactly how that show is supposed to be watched: barely). Each message of praise will give me perhaps even more of a thrill than I experienced when I jumped out of an airplane for the ninth time. For a few days, I will see myself as my friends, acquaintances and even the few strangers who’ve followed me on Instagram see me: as a wildly free man who sucks the marrow out of the bone of life.
Then Tiffany will get tired and we’ll go to bed, because it’s late and we both have to get up for work early. She’ll fall asleep first, and I’ll lie there in the dark, replaying the moment I leapt out of that plane over and over, the moment I surrendered my body to the atmosphere, all the while wondering if life on the ground could ever be as thrilling as life way up high in the sky, knowing I’ll never find out.