A few weeks ago I watched this video of lab chimpanzees being retired to a chimp sanctuary after fifty years of captivity. They had never felt grass under their feet. They stopped and stared at the sky for minutes because their whole lives were spent enclosed. They, full of caution and wonder, touched each other for the first time. It was moving and makes you want to club your fellow humans for being such assholes. (Feel the feelings here.)
I watched this video and thought, Man, that’s some serious emotion. Look at those happy primates just hanging out and having a good time and being FREE for the first time in their whole lives. I wonder what that feels like. I wonder if I’ll experience anything even CLOSE to that in this 21st century, hyper-connected world we live in…
With regret, I closed my laptop and looked away. I had a move to attend to, bills to pay and boxes to pack, a car making a shitty and curious noise, rent to make, resumes to update, cover letters to bullshit.This was the heavy price one pays for roaming and committing to hobo-dom. Ugly responsibility follows no matter where you go.
But I arose the morning of March 12th and knew something was different. On the wind was the smell of cigarettes, patchouli and beer. The air practically hummed with the collected bass lines of a million bands playing on patios throughout the city. Megan joined me on the porch and we gazed at the choked traffic of thousands of concert goers hoping to catch a Yeah Yeah Yeahs set. The meaty, sexy music times of SXSW had arrived.
If we were better people we would have turned our backs on that scene right that minute. We would have closed the blinds and logged in to LinkedIn and found work. We would not have filled water bottles with vodka, applied sunscreen and cute underwear and walked to the bus stop. We would not have followed the trails of cords and amps like bread crumbs into the hellmouth that is 6th Street. We would not have returned day after day to revel and forget what bands we’d seen, to wonder where all the bruises came from, how we got home at 4 am, why we were so tired, who was texting us from that number.
But we were captive chimpanzees until that morning. What were we supposed to do – climb back into our lab cages and ask to be shot up with carcinogens again? (That is a mild description of what job hunting feels like, yes.) We had to stare into the sky because we’d never seen it before! We had to day drink and dance and get put on lists because when was I going to have zero obligations to attend to for five whole days again?
I’m stiff and tired. I still have no job. There’s blood from a mystery wound on one of my t-shirts. But I have no regrets. This monkey went to heaven last week.