Looking back on my last years in Charleston, formative years I guess you could say, the years of college, of time spent writing at the Charleston City Paper and working for my father at Prudential Carolina Real Estate, I realize more clearly that I was in a struggle, a struggle to put away childish things, to grow up.
And let me apologize to you now for writing something you may find laborious to read. There will be poop later, I promise. You won’t want to miss the poop.
In May of 2002, I drove myself and all of my possessions up to Washington, D.C. My 1985-built car spluttered under the weight of the U-Haul trailer I had hitched to the back. Uphill, I maxed out at about 50 mph. Downhill, 90-plus and watch the fuck out. Punk rock shook from my speakers.
With sort of a Prince Hal/Prodigal Son mentality, I began a job in a cubicle and wore a tie everyday. The managing director who hired me and ran the office, as well as several other people of various position, all above me, told me that the tie was unnecessary. I wore one anyway. No one was going to interfere with my part in the play unfolding in my head. These are things I see now.
Since that move, I have gotten married, had two little girls, started my career in real estate, purchased several homes and started a development project back in Charleston at the southwest corner of St. Philip and Spring streets. What the hell happened?
Riding in the limo with the other pallbearers on the way to bury my grandmother (on my father’s side) last week, the backdrop of the Charleston streetscape evoked a sigh. I am depressed because I loved my grandmother, and I will miss her. I am depressed because my marriage is in jeopardy. Because my development is in jeopardy. Because my career is in jeopardy. Because drugs are no longer cool.
I remember watching the planes crash into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, while sitting in the editorial office of the Charleston City Paper, unable to look away.
I remember Bill Davis always loudly prattling on behind me about some nonsense or another, which was actually quite hilarious if you stopped to listen once in awhile.
I remember Lorne Chambers sitting behind his desk coolly chuckling and complaining about the people he had to deal with and the goddamned City Picks.
I remember cramped editorial meetings in Stephanie Barna’s office and her sarcastic inquisition as we brainstormed about upcoming issues.
I remember playing Truth or Dare with Nancy Santos. Yowzah!
I remember getting blindass drunk at almost every City Paper event and inevitably skanking myself into a sweat across a dance floor where everyone else was shagging or some shit.
I remember getting branded, literally, for the sake of my art. Yeah. That’s not going away. But I remain proud of that article.
I remember waking up on the concrete out front my apartment one blistering hot Charleston Saturday morning, realizing I was late and racing to the City Paper to meet Stephanie and write all of the assignments I was supposed to have completed the previous day, discovering a turd the size of a bottle cap stuck flat between my boxers and right ass cheek in the bathroom, washing my hindparts in the sink, spraying on a little Lysol for good measure, searching for a spot to incinerate the soiled briefs and, finding none, scrubbing them in the sink and pulling them back on with my eyes shut.
And I remember exchanging punches with a CP staffer who will go unnamed after a round of Slap Club gone south during the City Paper’s fourth anniversary party when we had maybe had one too many drinks. Sorry about that.
In the end, I remember all I ever had in my writing quiver was shock value and callow anecdotal hilarity (read: poop tales), and I doubt that will ever change. Thank, God, they got rid of me.