Mitch wandered around downtown Monument, enjoying the fresh air. Earlier that morning, he met up with Nate at Edmund’s Diner for a late breakfast, which was long overdue. It wasn’t that Mitch didn’t want to hang out, and he was remorseful about dodging several requests to get together despite the fact that he lived in the area. But up until that very morning, he’d been completely devoid of superfluous energy. Waiting until the last possible second to accept an invitation felt rude, given that Nate had his family’s bakery to help run; but he enthusiastically agreed to it, and even let Mitch pick the place.
And. Well. It was nice that someone actively wanted to spend time with him. He had been such a miserable sack of human garbage lately, but Nate always acted like he was the most interesting person in the room. Was it a crime to indulge in that?
For the first time in weeks, Mitch ate something that resembled a meal. Although it was only half of a fried egg and a piece of dry white toast, his nausea hadn’t been triggered and his stomach didn’t lurch after he had swallowed it, so he considered it to be a huge win. When he made a joke about being a cheap date, the self deprecation seemed to go right over Nate’s head.
They spent most of the time catching up, since it had been ages. Nate lovingly talked about the three legged pitbull mix that he had recently adopted and a vintage Suzuki motorcycle which he spent the past few months restoring. Forever self conscious about his passions, he was apprehensive to show pictures of either until Mitch had coaxed him into it.
Naturally, conversation had drifted to how Mitch was doing, and Mitch didn’t have an answer outside of “alive”. He confessed his uncertainties about what he should be doing with his life at the moment; up until last month, most of his energy had been devoted to maintaining something that was broken beyond repair.
Cutting through a small park off of Main St, he walked across the grass and took a seat on a bench. He ruminated over Nate’s parting words, and though the advice was simple enough, Mitch was gobsmacked that he didn’t think of it himself.
“Why not make a list?” Nate asked while they exchanged goodbyes. “Or two of them, even: a ‘to-do’ and a ‘wants’, and alternate between them.”
So Mitch threw his head back and stared at a maple tree’s crown above and the dappled sunlight that filtered through it. The first thing that he wanted to do was to check out the new record store he spotted on the way over, but wouldn’t be open for another 20 minutes. With time to kill, he pulled out his phone and determined the first thing that he needed to do was find a therapist to help him get his shit under control.
Armed with a paper bag full of used vinyl records, Mitch returned home with a spring in his step. It had been so long since he last went crate diving, and he missed the sense of adventure that went along with it: the musty smells, the ancient gig posters with the split fountain screen printing adorning the walls, the stacks of unorganized records that formed precarious mountains. The funk that incapacitated him for years kept him away from so many of the things that he once held a passionate for, and this reintegration exercise felt like a huge success.
Fortunately, the bulk of his collection stayed safe at his uncle’s, since Calvin fussed about how unattractive the older records with the worn spines were. He would have to grab them next time that he was in Burlington for a visit.
Among his purchases was a curiosity that he couldn’t pass up: a 7″ Backstreet Boys single from 1997. At only $5 and in decent condition, he grabbed it for Avi as a small token of gratitude for the car ride to Connecticut and the physical therapy. He thought about texting a photo of it to see what the reaction would be, but decided that the surprise of presenting it would be much more fun.
When the duplex came into view, he picked up the pace and built up enough momentum that he cleared the front porch steps in one leap. Presumably, this burst of energy came from getting actual calories into his system, because he couldn’t recall the last time that he was this invigorated. He opened the door, practically bursting into the foyer, and immediately head for the living room since Jodie allowed him to set up his turntable there. As he drew closer, ambient new-age music surfaced, and his nose wrinkled.