Bohemian and abstract; the only two words I could find to describe Walter Kirn’s depiction of his two days with Robert Downey Jr. “Bohemian” is not to mean Downey falls into the modern definition of the term as if to fit the Hollywood trend. He is there because it is where he fell into place in his time of healing. And the only reason he could be considered as such could be attributed to his abstract way of thought and how open he is; he allows his mind to follow the strangest, most amusing and most provocative of tangents. Downey recognizes the Human Condition, but what makes for his true restoration is that he recognizes the condition in himself and never ceases to find other ways to move forward and free himself. He understands we as humans are in constant need of correction, retuning and polishing. He is one of a kind because of his name, but represents every once-broken, barefoot, triumphant, hometown-patriot citizen with a plan for future success and happiness.
I stood up after awhile of sitting on the shopping center floor, engrossed in the divulging clarity of Downey’s words and the illustrations provided by Kirn. While I would have loved for the shelf I had been leaning against to have fit the groove of my back perfectly, I did with it what I could. Eric and I had officially been in the 24-hour store for two hours. We made our stop there simply to escape the humidity of the night. We set out on our usual foot-burdened travels at around 10 only because it was late and we were wide awake. It was 2-in-the-morning by the time I picked up the story and finished it shortly after. By then, we were ready to leave the store and make our way back to campus. He and I had been everywhere and at this time of night, the streetlights were bright enough to leave an effervescent and glorious glow wherever we stopped and stared. Eric had never seen downtown before and I was willing to show it to him.
The clock was still ticking, encroaching upon 4:oo a.m. Kirn’s story still rolling through my mind. Eric was sifting through his favorite Avenged Sevenfold songs on his iPod, imitating the sounds of the bass drum and guitar with his mouth. Regrettably, I admit, I was not giving him quite the attention he deserved. But something about Kirn’s two days with Downey stuck with me the rest of the walk back to campus. As we pressed on, with the promise of our own showers and beds in the future, I began to realize why Downey’s words and Kirn’s beautiful interpretation were so familiar: I had been there before. By “there” I do not mean in the same streets as the refined actor, but, like Kirn, I had heard some of the most brutal of honesties fall from the lips of the most inspiring people of my time–people whose names may not grace billboards, but have made milestones in their own lives and given me something to chew on as they share a part of their lives with me.
I looked around me: up at the stars I knew were staring down at me though the streetlights made it difficult for a reciprocated gaze, down the sidewalk we were traveling, and to my right as if I were sitting and staring at a passing scene in the passenger seat of a car. This was quite possibly the last time I would be walking through this familiar town for a long time. Particularly at this hour of the morning. I remember a night like it, though it did not involve venturing far. I had left my English class and was walking with my professor, talking to him, thanking him profusely for his support while listening to him speak about his faith in me and his reasons for believing. His mind works in the same circles and patterns as Downey’s, often leading into unexpected conclusions and sighs of irritable turmoil for the face of modern culture. He is a pensive man and letting his mind just wander is the best way to hear some of the more uncensored and unmitigated–in some sense of the word–truths about his life and his shame in finding where he was unfortunately right about the turn of things. “One day you’ll be able to say you were right, too,” he said with his patented smile. I laughed. I knew that if I let my cynical ways take the reigns it may happen sooner than any of us expect. When one is right about a series of unfortunate events, a cloud of shame often follows. These days those talks with him have all blended together into one long monologue of amusing and deeper thought. However, instead of mulling over all the words my professor said, I was more interested in what lead up to this resulting man with these conclusive thoughts–in other words, his story.
By the time campus was in plain sight, I was in a weird state of being. My body was capable of carrying on, though some of it may be due to the fact that I was in denial of how tired I really was in order to press forward, while my mind was ready to shut off. The streetlights that once casted a golden glow on the roads before us, no longer seemed so glorious, but were becoming vividly dull. I looked down at the wildflowers growing over the sidewalk. Only so many had bloomed, and the random purple buds amongst much greenery felt surreal–as if the purple was my eyes playing tricks on me at such a lethal hour. When I did see my dorm entrance in sight, I suddenly felt as though I could collapse. Eric and I parted and I watched the many palmetto bugs that overtake the city by night scatter as I intruded upon their gathering in order to get inside. I took the first cold shower I can remember and enjoyed every moment of it, breaking my usual routine of steaming hot water. It was refreshing, as if I were a child running through a sprinkler, though, I never did do such a thing in the nude. I cleaned the grime and heat of the night off of me that the humidity so scantily stuck to my shell, and crawled into bed just in time to see the clock strike 6:oo a.m. The night was over. Just as I am going to bed, many are waking and starting a new day. Kirn’s words will forever remain with me to inspire me. I want to know what makes someone the person I see when I find them. I want to know who they were and who they are, provided they are willing. I can learn something from anyone if I just give them the chance to speak, to be open and [honest]–in every sense of the word.