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Camel Lights and Del Taco: Crawling out of the Artist-Lifestyle Trenches

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Once upon a time, I spent my weekends with a band of Kerouac hopefuls armed with instruments and alcohol.

I will neatly describe that small portion of my life as camel lights and del taco. A blurry haze of too much drinking, too little faith in myself, and too many false pretenses on my part. I was so easily caught up in the lifestyle of drinking away your nights and sleeping away your days under the cloud that you were truly free and experiencing life as it was meant to be. The idea that borders and boundaries and all the stifling things that press upon us everyday were being lifted and a pure sense of living for ones own hedonism was the way.

Truth be told, in moments of quiet reflection I realize during that chapter of my life I found myself even more clouded by those hot and humid restrictions and they were just intensified and made more obvious to me when I tried to turn myself away from them. I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the skeleton that was looking back at me. Fake friendships, fake smiles and empty laughter that in the end didn’t buy me love or freedom, but instead awoke such deep melancholy within my spirit.

None of those people know what freedom truly feels like, and in the end all they are clinging to is a couple nights of their youth that are still surviving while they dedicate the rest of their time to long days and difficult work and commitments to families, children, bills. They speak about their younger days, and the things they have done with such a sad teary reverence that makes it so obvious to the observational outsider that they are living in a shell of what their lives used to be. It is the tragic and inevitable realization that one day you have to give up dalliance and seek the mundane and ritualistic.

I crave a true freedom that comes from a pure and unbleary memory of what you did twelve hours prior. I am not pretentious enough to blame the “devils of alcohol and drugs” because in total truth, I partake in my fair share of inebriated culture and am deeply convinced that an altered state of ones perception can cause phoenix like flames of creativity to spur from your own mind. But how sad is it, how lonely, when that lifestyle becomes all that if left of who you are; the creativity you once ignited may still rear its head on occasion, but it has no deeper meaning to you because you are too boxed in to realize what is it you have created.

I will not say I am sitting in judgment of any of those people; they hold their own beautiful corners in the story of my life, and my heart, and they all each have a lovely characteristic or two that makes them so delightful to be around. I would not have spent a chapter of my life in their presence if I didn’t love and respect who they each are. On more than one occasion, I found certain individuals pried open a dusty, dirty part of me that may commonly be referred to as the heart. And on more than one occasion, certain members of this tribe of musicians and writers spoke directly to my spirit and caused such irrepressible creativity within me that I was intoxicated by their presence.

If anything, gratitude is due; they opened up my eyes and let me see into a closed door in my own life that needed to be pried open with some painful reminders of the kind of girl I really am. As much as I try or wish, I will never be the go-to or it-girl; the deeply and carelessly cool siren with a drink in one hand and a smoke in the other, playing perfect court to drunken, dirty artistically-crazed men. I am always going to be that funny sidekick that people call round every now and then when they need a laugh, or someone to secretly compare themselves to. I make the down trodden feel better about their lives. I am the averagely pretty, too smart for her own good, sardonic little sister to everyone else’s frat boy dumb luck. At the end of the day, I am a lone smoking gun, armed with only my own truth and a few words that label what it is to be on the outside looking in.


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