When I was 18 years old I went to a poetry reading on Chicago’s far north side at the Green Mill. I was told that’s where the real ones hang. I went with a professor of mine. A poet. I read for the first time that night and people clapped. My professor patted me on the back. I used a fake ID to buy myself a scotch. It made me feel a step ahead. That same year I got my heart broken for the first time, or perhaps I broke my first heart. I can’t remember. But I remember feeling that I understood. I remember convincing myself that it wasn’t my fault. That I was the center of the cosmos and phenomena was the world constructing itself around me as I’d walk down sidewalks, bed down with someone who never told me their middle name, cheat bartenders like death, etc.
It wasn’t until a year later that I found you, and upon this discovery I was forced to deal with myself for the first time. You showed me what wretched accountability looks like. You showed me the dangerous beauty of self-awareness. You showed me what it might look like to be an old-head that’s lived with oneself fearlessly and without apology. You are why I will die unabashedly myself and for this I thank you.