I stopped thinking a long time ago about dying. Death was a daydream of my youth. I used to ponder for hours at a time in my twenties about death, what it would be like. I imagined that I would be escorted into a bright light that somehow was also dim, a sort of luminescent twilight, then I would see souls moving around all over the place, floating in some kind of void. Endless space would envelope my body, and then I would notice that I too was floating in this blackness and bumping into other souls as confused as I was. I imagined the goal of death was to maybe go out in the abyss and search for my lost loved ones who had died, and touch them, and become a part of them. I always read books about ghosts, and how some houses were believed to house the souls of dead residents. I always believed that these souls were men and women too afraid to make that leap into the abyss, and their punishment was to always wander, and never love.

I think the day of my thirtieth birthday marked when my thoughts changed. I stopped thinking about death, and began thinking about living. How ironic that I thought my lamenting on death was so horrible. Thinking about living, really worrying about it, can really drive one crazy so much more quickly. I wondered about the mistakes of my youth, and searched for someone to love me. I thought perhaps that was why I hurt so often, because I wasn’t living in the now. I joined club after membership. I spent a year shooting pool with a team of rednecks at a dirty Texas bar. One day I stopped by for a beer in hopes of a new atmosphere, different people to read. The sign on the door said pool tournaments every Thursday night. I thought it would make a difference. I wanted something to fill at least one evening of my weekly routine. The TV started watching me; the beer stopped turning the talking heads and silly sitcoms into companions. Joe was the good pool player. He would lean over and the top half of his torso would become a shooting gun. His head would lean into his arm so close his left ear almost touched, and a little flick from the wrist of his right arm would send the cue ball sailing fast and precisely. He held his stick in a way that made me love it. I imagined old men setting on a  porch holding their guitars, maybe one called his guitar, Old Girl, and the other referred to his six-string as My Baby. In that way, Joe held his pool stick. He caressed it, and held it like Old Girl. I wanted something like that. Like Old Girl.

Shooting pool with Joe introduced me to life’s desire and then later my first chapter of regret. That’s where it began. I wonder what happened to old Joe. Corner pocket.