No matter what day you set off to come home it always feels like Sunday. Life beckons around the corner. The world, your world kept rotating while you were gone and now you’re going to have to catch up and re-assimilate. Sure you could stay in New Orleans walking around town with a paper-bag-wrapped bottle in your fist, but sooner or later that gets old.
Driving home the list of things you have to do starts flashing in your head and you start wondering why the hell you thought it would be okay to disappear for a week and blow a ton of money. To get away from a girl? To get away from yourself? I wanted to think there was a chance I wasn’t going to come back. Like there’d be a dramatic moment where I’d say “You know what guys, you go, I’m going to stay here,” like some cowboy movie where one of them mixes with the natives in the village and decides to live among them. But I’m not that kind of guy I guess.
A night in Virginia and few more uncomfortable restaurant stops peppered the dismal ride home. O’Leary drove almost the entire way back. He enjoyed it, and I think he wanted to get home and two nights later we were. My ears hadn’t stopped ringing but now I was standing in the house. Alone. Quiet. I thought this is what had been missing the last week: a moment to myself. It was 8p.m. on a Friday and I had to get the hell out of here.
I started making calls: Anyone was an option. Is anything going on tonight? Anything at all? There had to be one last weird drunken night I could squeeze out of the universe. I’d make up for it tomorrow , once I had some proper sleep and a day to re-adjust I’d be fine. But not now. Not the first night back in Jersey. I knew she was out there with big plans and there was no way I was staying home and the panic of staring at four walls, inside my head for an entire evening made for a terrifying reality.
I got in the car and drove south. I just had to be out. The radio blasting, windows open anything to try and summon the faint enthusiasm that somehow, mystically, everything was going to be alright.
Elliot Krause called back. He and his girlfriend were meeting some of her friends. An hour later I was sipping a beer at a bar called Bourbon Street in Westwood New Jersey, barely able to hear myself think. Finally burned out.