🎶"My world's darker than the young black dream of the first black prince of a new white king"🎶
Take a lyrical journey with me by listening to The Apprentice, by Gorillaz ft. Rag N' Bone Man, Zebra Katz, and RAY BLK, on Spotify by clicking HERE!
In the last few days, I feel like my universe is asking for forgiveness for its past transgressions. I believe in God and this is where I'd say something like "God's apologizing to me", or "it's just God's way of saying I'll be alright". This is not the place I'll say those things because I don't say those things. If God's up there watching me, he's certainly sitting out this period in my life. I'm only five sentences into this article and I can clearly tell this isn't going to go the way I thought.
I hope I don't come off as bitter. I'm feeling better than I have in a very long time. But, the pain I'm going to talk about today is still in my heart. This will be an uplifting recollection, so hang on through the tough intro and you'll be greeted with something much more positive by the end. I apologize. I don't apologize.
I've been through some seriously dark times recently. Can you imagine spending the last two years feeling like your loved one died every yesterday? That's been my life since February 2016. My sister-in-law, Samantha, died in a car wreck in February 2016. Her husband, my older brother, Don, died unexpectedly in May 2016. My cousin, Mick, died in July 2016. My family had to put our 17-year-old family dog, a rat terrier named Samson, down in August 2016.
Two weeks ago, I remembered holding my pup's head as he passed away in the doctor's office, my sister across the table from me, crying for all of the loss we'd felt in six months. I cried. Those deaths we couldn't prevent. The latter was for the sake of dignity and care for a loved one who couldn't take care of himself anymore.
So, when I'm at work and someone is being unkind to me, I feel this deeply. I'm thin-skinned in some areas. It's not my problem to have. It's who I am and who I can strive to be better than. When I'm being told I don't know how it feels to lose someone by a friend who knows how much I've dealt with, I feel slighted by the lack of love and compassion I'm receiving. My life is hard, some days. Other days, it's pretty smooth-sailing, even though in my heart I create my own darkness. My mom says she knew the type of people my little sister and I would become one afternoon as toddlers when we were speaking to her.
I asked my mom if we could go to an event and she said, "we'll see". I remarked that "we'll see means 'no'", my sister saying "it could mean 'yes'". We are polar opposites, even to this day. I have always felt like the degree of difficulty in a task comes from my own pessimism, and less so the actual level of difficulty in acting upon the task. I don't find much of life to be difficult. Rather, I find much of life boring because it's so easy.
Yet, I have difficulties in life, the slow teardown of my psyche taking place daily is one, because of the experiences I've had so far. I lose sight of how great my life can be. And, sometimes, people can just as easily uplift me as quickly as they can tear me down, which brings me to my interactions with my universe yesterday and today. Since eventually being turned down for the cinematography job I was offered two weeks ago, I've been hard on myself. I'm in debt from college, so I saw dollar signs flashing rapidly and a way out of my debts a little quicker than I'd thought. When I didn't get the job, I was crushed. Enough of that, I wrote an article about that rejection.
I awoke yesterday to a text from friend who was in my neck of the woods. He and I worked at a gas station/liquor store on the Missouri state line in early 2010. He moved away December 2010 to his current home in Texas. I haven't seen him in just over 7 years. And, he was in town for business, so we had a notion to get together. I will be as visceral and forward as I can in saying I had little energy to see him yesterday. I'd been fighting with body depression all morning and my feelings of lethargy after not sleeping well were doing a fine job of speaking on behalf of my desires. I didn't really want to go see him because I didn't think I had the energy for the interaction. In truth, I was ecstatic to be able to see him, even though my body was dreading it.
He was one of my favorite friends to work with and we had a friendship that was only beginning when he moved to pursue a new career. So, for several years, I'd felt slighted in the potentiality of having a closer friendship with him. For sake of not letting the anticipation go on for too long, I did go spend time with him. And, did I make the right decision to forgo my exhaustion? Yes, absolutely. One-hundred times yes equals smart choice, Jed.
We spoke as if there'd been no distance between us, like as if the relationship started right where it was left. We had a good time, a few drinks, some food. My girlfriend accompanied me and helped pick up the conversation when I felt like I was not giving enough. I'm grateful for her being able to read me and help out when I hit my lull. My friend, who I'll call "Bryan" for the article's sake, laughed and had a good time recalling when I'd stayed out all night and didn't sleep, coming to work exhausted and letting me sleep in the breakroom while he and another employee handled the shift.
We talked about Cel-Ray soda (which is impossible to find), about how I didn't like him when we first started working the same clerk shift on Friday's and Saturday's, about missing each other since he left. We talked and talked until three hours had passed and I had to get home to take care of work for my upcoming film.
To bring this interaction into the fold of the story, Bryan told me he'd always felt drawn to me because he thought I was the kind of person who never quit just because a task had become difficult or I had failed. He told me because of my tenacity and passion for filmmaking, he knew I'd make something of myself. He said he saw me destined for much greater things than working as a clerk at a gas station, and that he'd not stayed in contact with anyone from the area except for me because he saw my potential.
These weren't filler words. There was nothing to gain for him to come back after seven years and fluff my ego. He's a successful business owner and a studied and emotionally smart man. He said this because he could probably sense my struggling as of late.
He took our time together this direction after I expressed some of my failures with him during the flow of conversation. The reality of Jed Nichols, circa 2010, was that I was a person whose life was totally in flux. I knew nothing of who I wanted to become. I liked cars and money and living at home without having to pay bills. But, I never settled. I wanted to see the world. My father passed away in November 2010 and I was fired from that clerk's job a few days before. Bryan had already left the business before I was fired. Losing my dad was the catalyst for my getting a degree in psychology.
A class I took in January 2011 led to me becoming an actor. Pursuing acting led to me becoming a filmmaking student at MSU. MSU led to me becoming a professional filmmaker sitting here today recalling all of this. The fact Bryan saw my potential months before my father died means and maintained that perception of me means, to me, he is telling his truth. Bryan had been long gone from the store by the time I'd gone to Las Vegas for a convention, gotten fired by the store an hour after I got to LV, spending five days there, then returning to spend the last 14 hours of my dad's life with him staring at cars I'd taken pictures of during my trip.
I couldn't have known my father would leave us around 5am on November 5th, 2010. "Remember, remember, the fifth of November..." That poem's not quite the same, anymore. In the years since, Bryan and I have shared music and sporadic Facebook posts, but nothing enough to have cultivated the smoothness at which our interaction took place yesterday. We have a real connection, in my mind.
I was home last night by the time I received a direct message on Instagram from a name I had some vague recollection of. Thomas, I'll call him here, is a friend from deep, deep into my internet past. I posted on the Insane Clown Posse's fan website Faygoluvers.net web forum when I was in high school, some 19 years ago. I jumped from that forum to a forum ran by Tech N9ne's labelmate, Brotha Lynch Hung, called Siccness.net in 2006 and Thomas and I stayed in touch sporadically since. Somehow, Instagram suggested we follow each other, which led to him contacting me.
Thomas said he'd been looking at my posts since he found me, and he was proud to see I was involved with my craft and clearly loved it. He and I are still in the midst of back and forth conversation, and he's excited for the upcoming film I'm shooting. We looked back for a minute and realized we've come a long way knowing each other despite not actually knowing each other in real life.
This morning, a very close filmmaking fiend of mine contacted me for the first time in two years and told me he was looking back at a film we made called Captive Audience. He said he was watching it and wished I was beside him, chatting up the process and talking about the weekend we shot the film. He and I have done that in the past, and the shoot is always fun to look back on.
To this day, CA is one of my favorite films, striking a balance between cohesion, plot, and cinematography that has stood the test of time. Or, maybe I'm love blind and it's a stinker I think is awesome because I helped birth it. It doesn't matter. He and I will be rekindling our relationship that had at one time become strained due to another film we shot where things didn't go so right.
It's been on my heart for a long time to figure out how to approach him and talk about our previous issues, which were onset due to someone else's issues with us as competent filmmakers. Nevertheless, our relationship was spoiled because the difficulties in overcoming a third party's negative behavior was more than either of us could handle. I believe him extending conversation to me today will lead to healing in our relationship in areas that need it. I believe we will become ever stronger friends now than we were back when things hit the fan.
Life is funny like that. When I'm at my lowest, I am suddenly picked up, and often by people I least expect to be there to help me cope. For that, I love God, even if he's not helping explicitly.