Nick Lachey: King of Pain
Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson were America's 21st century sweethearts. But when the cameras stopped rolling, the reluctant star was left all by himself
How do you know when your marriage is over?" Nick Lachey is sipping a glass of merlot in New York's Peninsula Hotel, his chair pushed several feet away from the table, his back to the room. It is the first warm day of March, but Lachey is spending it indoors. He has already eaten a cheeseburger and fries, and now he is sinking deeper into his seat, drinking a second glass of wine to take the edge off, which no one would begrudge him, given the circumstances.
We all want to know the dirt. We believe it is our right. Because Nick and Jessica did Newlyweds
. In their first months of marriage, they opened their lives to the ever-vigilant cameras of MTV, in the ever-prurient milieu that is reality television, and they did so to promote their pop albums, a strategy that actually worked, but only because it turned them into cartoons -- him the eye-rolling everyman, she the fuckable ditz -- and if they hadn't made that choice, if they hadn't been such eager strivers, so ready to talk about their "farting contests" and their "toe jam" on television, then maybe we'd feel a little less invested in the story. But they invited us to the party. And they can't ask us to go home now. Not when the party has started to heat up.
So here we all are, watching the end of the great American love story that was Nick and Jessica. Lachey, 32, a native of Cincinnati, the beefy, affable jock with benign tattoos and a toothy smile that embarrasses him. Simpson, 25, the buxom, blonder sister in the notorious family juggernaut led by daddy Joe, a former Baptist minister turned relentless pimp for his two vocally challenged girls.
Lachey and Simpson met at the Hollywood Christmas Parade in December 1998, when he was a member of the boy band 98 Degrees and she was a sweet, Southern, virgin songstress trying to distinguish herself from that other sweet, Southern, virgin songstress. The pair met again a month later at a Teen People
party, after which Lachey phoned his mother in Ohio and said, "I've met the woman I am going to marry."
A man of his word, he wed her in October 2002, an event breathlessly covered by InStyle
. Almost as breathlessly as the twenty-two-year-old Simpson's deflowering, a night that was, says Lachey, "a huge deal for her, which I appreciated and respected."
The two lived together for six months before MTV came calling with their film crews, and the happy couple, ensconced in the maw of fresh love where the world seems as benign as a basket of chicks, said yes, come record our ardor, what could be wrong with that? And it was then, lit and wired and observed by millions, that everything began, imperceptibly but irrevocably, to shift.
"When it first aired, we watched it on TV together, and we thought it was funny the same way everybody else thought it was funny," Lachey recalls. "But it was also, you know, surreal."
The more Lachey watched, the odder it felt. Halfway into the first season, he noticed that he was being edited as Mr. Good Guy. Not that he didn't consider himself a good guy. In fact he took pride in his general good-guy-ness, his beer-drinking, belly-scratching, Midwestern normalcy. It was just that he believed there was more to him. Ambition. Passion. A dark side, even. But complexity wasn't funny. Defending Hooters was. Real arguments were depressing. Pointless bickering was cute. The more episodes they shot, the clearer he was cast, the more Lachey felt he needed to be what the fans wanted. And so it was that his house became a prison of expectations, his marriage a performance with no curtain call.
"Jessica and I began playing these parts even when we were by ourselves," says Lachey from his chair at the hotel bar. "It became a really blurred line. There was a question about what truly was our reality."
With Simpson, Lachey played the role of the man who won the pussy lottery. That she was widely perceived to be an imbecile did not trouble him. (Or her, for that matter.) Viewers found her stupidity tolerable, largely because Lachey provided her with much-needed benefit of the doubt. If Mr. Good Guy loved her, she couldn't be all that bad.
ran for three seasons and averaged around 2 million viewers per episode.
"When you are on a reality show, your life ceases to be reality," Lachey says. "It becomes TV."
And TV shows get canceled.
On November 22nd, 2005, Jessica Simpson informed her husband that she was leaving him, a move that shocked him not because he denied their marriage was foundering, but because he believed they were choosing to inch toward survival. "I never wanted to be a divorce," he says wryly. "I wanted us to be happy. I guess we differed on strategy."
The two had just come from having dinner after the American Music Awards.
"The meal was really nice, actually," he says. "We had a good time."
After dinner, they stopped by a friend's house to pick up their dog, then headed for home. On the way, Simpson asked if Lachey was still coming back to Texas with her for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We already had our plane tickets," he says. "So I didn't understand the question. I said, 'Of course.' And she said something about how we hadn't really been getting along and then said, 'I think I want a divorce.'
"That blindsided me," he confesses. "I basically said, 'Please, let's sleep on it.' But when we woke up the next day, Wednesday morning, she was still sure."
Even so, Simpson expected Lachey to accompany her home.
"I said, 'I guess I'm not going to Texas,' and she seemed surprised. I was like, 'Are we going to pretend nothing is wrong?' "
Lachey chose to stay in L.A.
Before his wife's revelation, Lachey believed they were working through "a tough phase." Simpson had her own agenda, which may or may not have been orchestrated by her father, Joe, a man so displeased with his daughter's marriage to Lachey that he could barely smile at the wedding.
"I think he felt she was too young," Lachey says generously.
It is well known that Joe Simpson protects his daughters with a Kong-like ferocity, an impulse overridden only by his compulsion to make them famous. This marriage of fundamentally incompatible desires has netted him no shortage of enemies or ill will. As a manager, he's seen as a control freak with a disconcerting hold over his girls -- a Tony Soprano without the sense of humor. It is an unpleasantness Lachey dealt with for years, yet refuses to speak about, like all PTSD survivors, in anything but the vaguest terms.
"I will only say this," Lachey begins warily. "It is difficult, at best, to juggle your personal and professional relationships when they are under the same roof. The mix has always been challenging to me. The Simpson family is a tightknit group. I knew going in they would be there. I'm not sure I knew how extensive it was going to be."
He shrugs, tugs at his belt loop.
"I don't pretend to understand Joe," he continues. "And I can't speculate about what he did or why he did it or for what purpose. It would be easy for me to blame my divorce on him. That would be convenient. But at the end of the day, Jessica is a grown woman, and she made her own decision."
As he speaks, his voice falters. He puts down the wineglass and begins to weep. It is a masculine cry. Large, errant tears brusquely wiped away. Over the next two hours, Lachey will cry a half-dozen times. He will also cry alone that night. And the next day. He will cry because he is "really fucked up right now," and because "it just sucks," and because he is being forced to let go of all of his "dreams for the future built around Jessica." But mostly he will cry because it feels good to finally express something real.
"When it first happened, everyone was like, 'Don't leave him alone at the house, be with him all the time!' But I was never suicidal. I just wanted to deal with it on my own."
Lachey believes he has made progress. And yet.
"It breaks my heart that I couldn't make Jessica happy," he mumbles, his chin pressed into his chest. "I wanted to be everything to my wife. I wanted her to look at me with love in her eyes, the way she did at the beginning, and have her feel like I was the most wonderful, awe-inspiring man on the planet. And when that stopped, it was the worst feeling in the world."
He wipes his face, eyes to nose to chin.
"I'd marry her all over again," he says softly. "Because I still love her. It would be a lot easier to walk away if I didn't."
And then the tears start again.
* * * *
Nick Lachey never wanted to be famous. He wanted to be a football player. Problem was, his mother didn't approve of football and its inherent bone-snapping possibilities. So she kept him from playing until he was in ninth grade. Undeterred, Lachey organized neighborhood pickup games and worked on his sprints. Then, when he hit sixth grade, his younger brother Drew came home with the news that he had been accepted into a performing-arts school.
"And my whole family is making this huge freaking deal over how talented he is, and what a star he is going to be," says Lachey. "And I thought, 'Fuck this, I'm going to audition too.' "
Nick was also accepted. So he went, thinking he would quit when ninth grade rolled around. But by then, he was popular. He was discovering his voice, and how singing made the girls quiver just as much as tossing a ball. And so he stayed, graduated and then continued on to USC as a theater major, a decision that haunted him because even then he harbored secret hopes he might somehow join the team.
"I would watch the guys going to practice while I was going to dance class. And I'm wearing these bicycle shorts and my dance belt, which is basically a jockstrap that goes up your ass, and these stupid dance shoes, and it killed me."
He pauses, exhales.
"And now here I am with a life filled with dreams I didn't want."
He is joking, of course. Mostly.
When asked if he wants to be a pop star, Lachey hedges. "Could someone show me a list of pros and cons?" he asks. "When I was with 98 Degrees, it was the best of both worlds. We did well enough to reap the benefits, but we were below the radar."
Well below. The quartet, a sort of Midwestern Menudo, signed with Motown in 1996, after meeting a manager backstage at a Boyz II Men show. Soon enough, Lachey says, "they had us hanging out with Jay-Z and these other up-and-comers to give us street cred." A considerable obstacle for the band, whose vibe was more cable-knit, Main Street than shell-toed, MLK Boulevard. Lachey, the pretty boy of the four, has no illusions about where his group falls in the pantheon of boy bandage.
"The Backstreet Boys and 'NSync, they were in another realm," he says. "We couldn't dance to save our lives. We weren't performance-based. We were honest enough with each other about that. We knew our weaknesses. But we still sold 9 million albums."
* * * *
Lachey has the head of a slavic wrestler, angular and sturdy, with deep-set eyes that these days appear hollow and fatigued. Still he maintains a baby face that he resents, so he keeps his chin scruffy and his few gray hairs uncolored, an attempt to look more like the man he imagines he should be. One hurdle is his mouth, which curls and falls into a thick pout, giving him a decidedly boyish pucker. His body, by contrast, springs straight from a Fifties muscle magazine. Starting at his neck, brawny and thick, with expansive shoulders narrowing to an improbable V at the waist. When he remembers to, he sucks in his belly. The rest of the time he moves through life much like a running back, gracefully in command of his heft.
In the fall of 2003, both Lachey and Simpson released solo albums. Initially neither one sold. Then Newlyweds
became a cult hit, and the would-be singers became personalities, and personalities sell records. Just ask William Hung.
But still, Simpson's album soared; Lachey's bombed. "Jessica's label did this really smart thing and tied her next single into the show," Lachey remembers. "My label didn't. So my record stagnated.
"People try to put us in competition with each other. But her success, especially relating to the show, is my
success. Her hit 'With You' is about me. How could I be upset about that success?"
Starting more than a year before the divorce announcement, the gossips gleefully speculated about the demise of the Newlyweds
' union. Rings were observed on and off. Formal and informal denials were issued. Joe Simpson himself went on TV to defend the solidity of the marriage and his daughter's unfortunate tendency to be photographed drunk and sitting in other men's laps.
"All that stuff in the press -- this week they split, this week they're back together. All that stuff was not our reality," Lachey says now, then swiftly clarifies. "Or I should say, it wasn't my reality. I wasn't trying to defend myself in the press. I was trying to defend my marriage to my spouse."
There is no keener shame than being publicly dumped. Add allegations that your wife cheated on you with several other men -- prankster-actor Johnny Knoxville, Knoxville's wingman Bam Margera, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine -- and you have a recipe for postal levels of retaliation.
And yet, Lachey refuses to be bitter. He was pissed off for a while. Then depressed. But he drank and he reconnected with his old friends and he buried himself in bosoms large and small, and now he is just tired. Divorce exhausts you like nothing else. A magazine-cover-generating, scandal-ridden divorce is akin to mainlining Thorazine.
"People forget we're real people dealing with real hurt," Lachey says plaintively. "This wasn't some publicity stunt. This wasn't some scripted-for-reality-television romantic tragedy. It's my real life, you know?"
* * * *
There is no doubt that in the divorce drama of Lachey and Simpson, it is Simpson who is taking the bigger public-relations hit. The reporting -- covers of multiple magazines, week after week, month after month -- favors Lachey as the cuckolded underdog, the ever-elusive good man foolishly tossed aside. The preferential treatment is a double-edged sword.
"If you allow those things to enter into your life they will fuck with you," he says, referring to the persistent infidelity whispers. "I choose not to deal with them."
He is being literal. When it was printed that Simpson slept with Knoxville on the set of The Dukes of Hazzard
, Lachey said nothing. He did not ask for confirmation or denial, and Simpson did not offer them.
"We chose as a couple to ignore it," he says. "On both sides. I chose to trust. No discussion about it."
He held fast when the next wave of gossip swept in, linking her to Bam Margera. And again, most recently, with Adam Levine.
"Adam and I were in a club not long ago and he came over to me to clear the air," says Lachey. "It was a two-minute conversation. He said to me: 'Nothing happened while you guys were married.' He looked me in the eyes and said that, so I chose to believe him.
"Maybe it's naive of me," Lachey continues. "But I believe what comes out of people's mouths when they talk to me. Maybe I'm an idiot. But that's what I do."
Lachey is, by all accounts, a stand-up guy, a man unafraid to do the work.
"On the day she filed for divorce, I drove to her parents' house and tried to change her mind. I had done the research and I had the number of the best marriage counselor in town. I thought we owed it to ourselves to try with a third party. You get to a point where there is so much animosity you can't hear each other. But she didn't want to go."
Nor did she want to sign a prenup before they married -- her father didn't want her to either -- when Lachey was at that time far and away the bigger earner. It was a choice that ironically now works in Lachey's favor.
"There was a prenup drawn up by my business manager. There was some question as to her spending habits. It was a way to protect me. She said she didn't want to sign it, and that was the end of it. We've always been a what's-mine-is-hers situation."
Which brings us to the recent alimony hiccup. For a few weeks, on the advice of his attorney, Lachey checked the legal box granting him the right to sue for spousal support, an option he has since passed on. When the document surfaced in the press, a poll revealed most people believed it was Lachey's right. An exception was Jamie Foxx, who used the news to promote his own unassailable masculinity, honking on Entertainment Tonight
that "real men don't do those kinds of things," and if Simpson wanted a real man, she should "holler."
"I called Jamie after that," Lachey reports, still clearly irritated. "He ignored the call, so the next time I saw him I walked up and told him what was what. And he did what I knew he'd do, he said, 'I'm a comedian. I was just making a joke.' "
"I haven't requested alimony at all," Lachey says adamantly. "I have no intention of filing for spousal support. And I've been clear with Jessica about not wanting it."
The alimony ripple aside, Lachey has enjoyed a predominantly bruise-free ride down the tabloid shit chute, while his ex-wife has alternately been portrayed as a silly girl who made a huge mistake in letting him go and as an unbridled ho-cake dancing on banquettes and bedding random co-stars.
"Jessica being cast as the villain is unfair to her," Lachey insists. "Marriage is the toughest thing in the world -- to blame her is bullshit." Although many in his camp believe, as one friend said, "Karma is finally happening."
Lachey knows a celebrity divorce is "a PR
game," but he's not willing to play. He refuses to sell his ex-wife out, to make the snide comment, the pointed joke.
"The tabloids are carrying on the show," he says astutely. "I know people want to know how the story is going to end."
The fact that it ended, as most marriages do, slowly, with a gradual, enervating decline, has not kept the gossips from trying to turn the Lachey and Simpson split into a theatrical war of the poses.
"I don't know what people expect to read," Lachey says with unusual sharpness. "She didn't throw plates at my head. There was no crazy drama. If there had been a simple reason for the split, I'd say so. If I'd seen her with another man, I'd say so. If that's not the story they want, then fuck it."
Lachey takes a long, full breath. He is tired of this topic. But he is also unable to talk about much else. "During those last months, we weren't fighting. It was just an overall state of tension. It was suffocating. And it just got worse and worse and worse."
His brother Drew is more specific. "Her family is so involved in her world," he says. "Joe was trying to balance her career and her life and that was a fine line. Plus you had the show. Any time you have an intimate moment with your wife you need to not be worried about ratings."
Lachey firmly denies ever being coached by Joe Simpson: "A lot has been made that he is some mastermind pulling all the strings and manipulating everything, but he didn't. I don't know what he said to Jessica, but he never told me how to live my life or run my marriage."
But he was there. And he never kept his disapproval of Lachey a secret.
"I don't know if he ever liked me," Lachey says with a wan smile. "To this day I couldn't say. It was painful. Do I think Joe drove a rift between us? No. Was he an influence in our marriage? Absolutely."
Lachey's own parents got engaged the first night they met (mom Cate was nineteen, dad John was twenty-four) and divorced when Lachey was in the first grade. He remembers his dad falling into "a funk" after the split. His mother went on to remarry three more times. His father, once.
"I was never told why my parents' marriage broke up. But I can see why now. My mother was so young, and she is eccentric, outgoing. My dad is more low-key."
When it is suggested that this pattern sounds familiar, Lachey smirks agreeably.
"I admit, with Jessica, there was a part of me that loved feeling needed. It is a weakness in me. Jessica was so naive. She'd never lived alone before. I liked that about her.
"Being older, I guess I should have known it wouldn't work," he continues. "But I didn't."
* * * *
It is another balmy spring night and Lachey is in another New York bar. This time he is drinking beer. This time he is not crying. He is preparing for a long night out. His plan is to stay up until dawn, "maybe flirt with some girls," because now, he can. His spirit is high. The first numbers on his single "What's Left of Me," off his album of the same name, came in strong today, and his label is hopeful for a hit. The song -- an ode to lost love with lyrics like "Now I'm broken/And I'm fading/I'm half the man I thought I would be" -- is the most personal writing of Lachey's career.
"I read somewhere somebody was saying, 'Oh, he's capitalizing on his failed marriage to sell records,' " Lachey says. "That really pisses me off. Like I wouldn't rather be singing about how great love is? About my newborn son and shit like that? Give me a fucking break. I don't get to choose where my life goes. What do you want me to sing about?"
Earlier, at a meeting with Jive Records, Lachey told the executives working on the release that he was afraid the early positive numbers were "about the drama, not about the song."
The Jive people quickly assuaged him.
"You are the people's champion," said Barry Weiss, president and CEO of Jive's umbrella label, Zomba. "Who cares what the critics say? People root for you. They want you to win."
"Whatever," Lachey now says at the bar, nibbling on a bowl of wasabi nuts. "I'm just glad to have a reason to remind people that I'm not just getting attention because I was married to Jessica Simpson."
Here again the tabloids have been helpful, tracking his every hookup with fervor, conjecture that Lachey says is wildly off base.
"There is a constant need to link me with somebody," he says, releasing a long sigh. "Jessica vs. Miss Kentucky (a beauty queen spotted having dinner with Lachey). Jessica vs. Kristin Cavallari (the vixen from Laguna Beach
)." The latest: Jessica vs. Vanessa Manillo (MTV host and star of Lachey's new video). "There always has to be a schmuck and a hero."
"He's even been pictured with my wife, who was called 'the new blonde,' " says his brother, Drew. "It's laughable. He's never had that player personality."
Ever the gentleman, Lachey won't divulge how many women he's actually been intimate with since Simpson, joking, "Hundreds. In a slow week." Nor will he reveal his overall number of lovers. "But it's not as dramatically high as people might think. I am in no position to be with anyone right now. Obviously."
Lachey still believes in commitment. He even believes in monogamy. "I don't know if there were other men," Lachey says, answering the unspoken question. "But if she did cheat, it was the result of something bigger, not the reason we didn't work."
Not that Lachey never wonders. Not that there aren't nights of manic supposition and puzzling that swirl his brain into a poisonous lather of suspicion and hate.
"Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had just walked in the house and found her in bed with a guy. That would be clear-cut. End of story. I wouldn't have to deal with the uncertainty of adultery."
When asked if confirmation of her cheating would have been enough to make him quit her, Lachey hesitates. Finally, he settles on an answer.
"I believe in the power of forgiveness," he says slowly. "But that's an image that never leaves your head for the rest of your life. You walk in on that, that's forever."
He rolls his shoulders. Orders another round.
"I could make myself crazy imagining things," he admits. "But even if she cheated five times over, I still love her. Love isn't the easiest thing to cut off."
* * * *
It is an hour before the Nets play the Suns and Lachey is eating dinner in the Gold Circle, the private VIP dining club at the Meadowlands arena in New Jersey. As he picks at his steak and fish, he contends that he is an ass man, "even though my track record doesn't really support that."
When asked if he would rather be brilliant but impotent or a dumb sex stud, Lachey grins.
"Dumb sex stud. No doubt about it."
When Lachey takes his courtside seat, the crowd yells his name, and he gives a quick wave. A dozen people approach him; camera phones are shoved two inches from his face. Lachey smiles his toothy smile and signs ticket stubs and only flinches a little when he is asked, "What's up with Jessica?"
During the game, he tells stories of his deeper past. How he lost his virginity at age sixteen to his first love, Rachel, a girl he then stayed with for eight years.
"I was young. I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I genuinely cared about her so when we started having sex, I thought I was going to be with her for the rest of my life. Everything became so serious."
He says the two finally broke up after they tried living together post-college. He then circles back, as he is in the habit of doing now, to the phantom limb of his marriage, his latest breakup. He shares a story about the last time he was in the Newlyweds
house. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and Simpson was there. She was crying. Lachey looked at the empty rooms, the cleared-out space, and found himself suddenly short of breath.
"It felt like someone sucker-punched me and took my life away. My dog, my wife, the house. It felt like everything that was normal and real to me had just been just stolen.
"I always believed marriage is a long haul," he says wistfully. "There are going to be bad moments. But when you are in it for fifty-five years, are you going to look back on one or two shit years? Or eight shit years? What about the other forty-seven?"
For the record, Lachey and Simpson speak on the phone every couple of days.
"The conversations are a little awkward. The strange thing is you want business to go on as usual, like nothing ever happened, but it doesn't feel normal to be having those conversations."
For Lachey, normal is elusive these days. So he is settling for familiar. To promote his solo CD, he has consented to film another as-yet-untitled MTV reality show documenting the making of his album, using the same Newlyweds
crew, "which only proves that I have learned nothing," he quips, quickly adding, "Not true. I have final editing rights."
Endearingly self-aware, Lachey often jokes that he is "a reality star who sings on the side." For all the damage Newlyweds
may have caused his marriage, he is bright enough to recognize he would be largely invisible had he passed on the show. He also admits that sometimes when he sees the cameras following him, "I am filled with a homicidal rage. I just want to push them down the fucking stairs."
Still, he endures. Lachey is, above all, a solid businessman. He has lived the power of television. "There are far more talented people than I am out there," he says candidly. Which is fine by him. Lachey doesn't need to be the best. He just wants to work hard and make his albums and write his songs and perform for modest, pleasant crowds, and maybe, someday, be on a hit TV show, "like Moonlighting
, the best show ever made."
He is currently filming a pilot, She Said, He Said
, about a boy and a girl who meet cute and "the constant struggle we all go through to understand one another," he explains, rolling his eyes at the irony.
Does it end happily ever after?
"Does it ever?" he asks.
It is a rare moment of cynicism, and Lachey quickly backpedals.
"In L.A. they had this contest, where if you won, you'd be set up with someone to marry. Someone you've never met. I remember thinking it was crazy. But now I think, 'Fuck, they have just as good a chance as any of us.' "
Lachey's face drops. The sadness, mercifully at bay, has returned. And with it, the questions.
"I don't know what I could have done to stop it. There weren't a lot of blowup fights. There was just the disintegration of us. We weren't grounded anymore. I was holding on for dear life, thinking one day the storm would die down a little. But it never did. And pretty soon, there was nothing left to hold onto anymore.
"I don't blame the show," he continues. "I don't blame her father. I don't blame her. You can play twenty questions with the last three years of your life and you'll never have the answers. We just didn't work. I don't know if we would have worked if we'd been soybean farmers in Iowa."
In the final days of their marriage, Lachey and Simpson escaped to Italy. They were hoping to flee the media scrutiny, their families, find out how it felt to be alone with each other, finally.
The first day was a nightmare.
"There was so much tension," recalls Lachey. "It was like hauling a gorilla around." So that evening he sat his wife down on the bed in their hotel suite in Florence, took her hand and said, "You are an angel, Jessica. You're just not my angel." It was, he says now, their last good time together.
"After I said that, the fucking weight of the world fell off our shoulders. We had the best week because for once we weren't trying to live up to people's expectations. We were alone for the first time in years."
* * * *
It is his last day in New York, and Lachey is staring out the window of a friend's kitchen, watching the people on the street. A woman passes pushing a double stroller. A man sits alone in his car reading AARP
magazine. A hipster shuffles along with his camera, pausing to snap photos of garbage. Lachey perches on the sill and begins to sing.
"All by myself
," he warbles. "Don't wanna be, all by myself. Anymore
He laughs. "That is a sad song. I'm gonna stop singing it."
But he doesn't. He goes on to the next verse, his voice filling the empty room.
"I believe I can be a good husband to somebody," he says, stopping midnote. "I don't know, though. I'm oh-for-one."
His eyes well up again. But this time, no tears fall.
"Maybe I'm crazy," he says, turning his gaze back to the bustle of the street. "Maybe I'm in some, like, purgatory fucked-up place in my head. But I'm OK with it. I'm OK with everything."