Why do I go to strip clubs, drink gin and tonic, toss money at exotic dancers, shout and yell and sing along with the punk songs and the old songs? Why do I follow the girls into darkened booths and smell their necks and feel their hair brush along my face? Why do I sit in clouds of cigarette smoke in dive bars and subject my already-fading hearing to raucous buzzing loud sound systems? Why do I flirt with girls who won’t go home with me, and be friendly to the drunk guys but never get their name?

Freedom. It all feels like freedom.

My 9 to 5 job is a straitjacket. My rent is a chain around my neck. Keeping even my tiny apartment clean is worse than a chore, it feels like the equivalent of pushing that boulder up the hill, only to have it roll down again before I reach the top. The political climate is terrifying – and I don’t mean al Qaeda and bin Laden.

But drinking, and dancing, and singing, and loving… it all feels like freedom.

Pulling open my laptop, having the screen project the world’s knowledge into my eyes and head. Freedom.

Putting on some shoes and running, hard, through the streets, feeling my whole body working in concert for the sole purpose of movement. Freedom.

Renting a car and driving it fast up through the mountains, or blasting through the desert. Freedom.

Pulling out my harmonica and running bluesy scales, bending the notes until they’re practically subsonic, or plunking out notes on my keyboard. Freedom.

Dreaming up stories and writing them out, creating characters that are little pieces of me and my friends and all the people I’ve ever known, guiding them into adventures and into and out of tragedies and happiness. Heady freedom indeed.

Hearing Stormy’s giggle in the dark… ah, I can practically taste the freedom.

Please let me wake up just a little bit more free tomorrow. I deserve it. Just a tiny piece of it, a shining silver lightning bolt to brighten up my dull dark existence.