A decision that’s been a long time coming

I know that I don’t belong here, and I have no one to talk to about it.

I moved here with my boyfriend because he convinced me that it would be best for both of us, and that our love was so important that we’d make it work.

And yet at every opportunity he seems to remind me that his needs are more important than mine, and that now that we’re out here he could get on very well without me.

Perhaps he only needed me to get out here–only needed me to help leave everything he had ever known–to show him that a different life wouldn’t be so scary.

For me, it was not my first time leaving home. But it was the first time I’ve ever done it for someone else.

Perhaps that was my mistake. And I suppose I’ll have to except it.

Except it, but not live with it. I need to leave. I cannot live my life second to someone else’s. I didn’t realize that’s what I would be doing when I came here with him, but now that it’s been made clear, I believe it’s best for me to cut my losses and leave before it’s too late.

If he believes he doesn’t need me, let him live without me. It will be painful to leave him, but it will be worse to stay.

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Giving In

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You have two options when, the night before your 6am shift, you find you cannot sleep.

One: You can try to fight it. You can lay in bed with your eyes shut tight, attempting to meditate your mind clear as it drifts away a thousand directions away from sleep. You can curse yourself for the way you’ll feel tomorrow–and curse again because you know the anxiety your feeling at losing sleep is only causing you to lose more sleep. You can toss and turn, until finally, if you are lucky, your body shuts off and you catch just a few hours before your alarm jars you awake too soon.

Two: You can give in. Now, giving in is not so easy when you share a bed, and I’ll admit this is the first time I’m trying it. In the old days, I’d lift myself out of bed with no more than a resigned sigh, knowing it was going to be “one of those nights,” and getting on with it. I’d pull out a book, or more often, my computer, and furiously type away until a real tired came over me. And then, I’d sleep hard those last few hours, and awake as if I’d lost very little sleep at all.

Now, I’m settling for typing on my phone, and hoping that my partner doesn’t wake up and scold me for staying up late when I’m on the opening shift. He’s never had a problem falling asleep–not more than once or twice in his life–and he doesn’t understand. There is no fighting it. It just is how you are.

Now, I could write about a hundred things as this moment. Why, just a minute ago I was contemplating what an economic solution for peace might look like in the world (hint: it starts with living and rhymes with rage). Before that, I was thinking of how the social constraint of the male gender can be traced as the root cause of most rapes, violent crimes, and instances of mental illness in men. Before that, I think I might have been mulling over the inevitability of everyone I love dying.

But I suppose that wouldn’t really be getting at the root of my sleeplessness–the true cause of my affliction. You see, I’ve noticed a pattern in my sleeping habits, and most notably, I know that I have trouble sleeping when I do not feel fulfilled.

Which would explain why I’ve had no trouble in the past few months, leading up to and during my trip to California. I was in motion–everything I was doing was for a purpose: to make the next big step in my life.

So it would make sense that after I got the apartment, the bike, the job, the room decorated, I would have my first night of sleeplessness.

I should explain that the job I got was a service job. Not a “this is what I went to college for” job, but a “this is how I’ll pay my rent and loans,” job. And it’s a great job. I’m having fun so far, and for what I’m doing the pay is good.

But I’m at that age where “extended moratorium” should be coming to an end. The time for exploring my identity is over, and my ideas of who I am and what I will be should solidify. In theory, that is. But truth be told, it has not, and I am very doubtful at this time that it ever will. Hence, the cause of my anxiety.

Because exploring your identity is like constantly being in a state of adolescence–which you may remember is a time marked by its distinct feelings of inadequacy and discomfort. And the idea that is will never end bring with it another set of anxieties and insecurities.

I feel a lot of pressure to define myself as a “coffee person” since that is what I happen to be doing. And I do it very well. That’s not my ego talking–I’ve just been doing this job and long time and have learned it with the same enthusiasm I approach everything else with.

But it’s not what I love, and the thought of defining the rest of my life by it fills me with dread. The thought of giving up on all my other passions to pursue this identity sends me into a panic, which then floods my mind with other thoughts: Will it be worth it to be so far away from everyone I know and love, just to make coffee? Will I forgo pursing causes for social justice because my full time is occupied with a job I don’t identity with? Will I find myself looking back at these days, wishing I had stayed up and just written down my thoughts instead of fretting over early morning shifts?

These are, I suspect, thoughts that will sound familiar to you if you’re like me and have graduated college with a sense of longing and 30k+ of debt.

And my best guess is that my next few moves will be crucial. Because the older and less malleable my brain becomes, the more difficult it will be to set myself on a different course in the future.

I suppose my real fear is not that I will never discover who I am–but that I may stop becoming in favor of settling for something less difficult.

So it’s decided. I must not stay too long where I am, and instead pursue my passions in whatever direction they my take me. I’ll start with volunteer work and writing as much as possible, and go from them.

And I must hope that in the morning, after I’ve been appeased with sleep, I won’t find these things to be the kind of empty promises I’ll tell myself for the next 10 years.

When they’re not there anymore.

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I’m reaching back in my mind for a place that’s no longer there. Reaching back with my heart for another that’s stopped beating long ago.

I put my hands out in the dark, searching for the light switch. Grasping blinding, waiting to touch something in the void before me. Inching forward, until suddenly my outstretched fingers jam against a wall, or dresser, or something else I was not expecting to find–something I was not looking for–and I am left in the dark, cradling my hands, frustrated and lost, but still looking.

It’s your birthday, again.

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Just before her 22nd birthday, she died.

Molly, I call her, in this, the anonymous version of my life. Molly, because there is a lovely song about a girl named Molly. And because my friend’s real name was also a lovely song.

Today is Molly’s birthday. Just before midnight I realized this, and now I can’t sleep. I can only think of where I was last year on her birthday, frantically running around trying to get sparklers and rice crispy cereal to recreate the traditional “rice crispy blob” of years passed. I remember staring down at the burnt of sparklers sticking out from the quickly hardening marshmallow mess and thinking, “God damnit. There was a reason we stopped making these shitty things.” I think the last one we made together, we threw out the window onto the front lawn. My confused brother found it a few days later.

I keep thinking about all the birthdays I missed when she was alive. Sometimes I wouldn’t even realize I had missed it until I got a text from her wishing me a happy birthday a few weeks later.

Another reminder of what a shitty friend I was. I’ll probably never forget her birthday again. As long as I carry this guilt inside me, I’ll always remember her birthday.

Good.

It was one year ago today. I was sitting on my bed, my head in my hands.

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Do I hate?

Yes I hate.

I am infinite, not immortal.

I can be fueled by hate–or love.

I can also be drained.

 

A gun in your hand,

May make you feel powerful,

But maybe we should never feel powerful.

 

A man who has nothing better to do,

Than talk about girls he wished he fucked,

Is not a man at all.

 

A person driven by  their sex,

But doesn’t follow any other passions,

Must be very sad.

 

Religion is not the worst thing,

That every happened to the world,

But it’s not everything.

It’s not even close.

 

If you have not lost a friend,

You have not lived long enough.

 

But I hope you don’t live too long.

Turn of events.

At 11pm I decided to skim over the job postings on Craigslist. At 6am I applied to 3 jobs, and became a contributor to one of my favorite political Facebook pages. I’ve already schedule 3 posts on it for the morning.

So in a few hours, everything has changed. Maybe now I can sleep?

The day is approaching.

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It wasn’t just “Donnie Darko.” It was “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “The Life Aquatic.” It was Marcy Playground and Pink Floyd. It was going for hikes in the woods, taking photographs of our feet. It was playing with balls of pasta in the river, and pretending they were ships setting out to sea. It was climbing on the roof and eating top ramen out of the cup.

She left me here. She left me with all those memories.

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I won’t be able to sleep tonight. I can feel it.

I couldn’t sleep last night either. It’s cliche I know, but as soon as I need to get to bed, the worst thoughts come to my head. Embarrassing things I did years ago and almost forgot about–almost, until some innocuous train of thoughts leads me back to those terrible moments.

Tonight I won’t be able to sleep, because I saw “The Wolf of Wall Street” earlier this evening and a specific scene really bothered me. Leonardo De Caprio’s character is talking on a payphone when he begins losing the ability to speak, because some drugs he took an hour or so ago suddenly kicked in. He falls to the ground and has to crawl back out to his car.

The scene is intended to be comical, and indeed the audience seemed to find it hilarious. But it brought back such a terrible memory for me–I can’t even talk about it here, in this anonymous place.

There was nothing funny about being in that situation, though the character–being psychotically rich and safely within a country club–probably had little cause to feel true fear in that moment. Not the kind of fear a small woman in a strange place surrounded by strangers might feel in the same physical state.

 

But it’s not the only thing that will keep me up tonight. At the movie theaters, I saw too many people I knew–some friends and some relative strangers I grew up with. Some people I’ve never talked to and others I haven’t talked to in years, and the realization that in that moment I was embarrassed to see them, back in this place we started.

I don’t want to stay here. Not even for another few months. I want to go far away–California might not even be far enough. I want to go to China–Shanghai maybe. I want to go to Thailand, or New Zealand, or Kenya–I’m not even sure I care that much where. Just somewhere new, somewhere different–so, so painfully different.

But my boyfriend won’t forgive me if I leave again. This last trip almost sent us over the line. Following my heart out of here would mean the end, for good this time. I told myself I wouldn’t compromise myself for a man, ever. But that’s exactly what I’m doing with him. I love him, and I’m giving up everything else I want to stay with him.

So I’m going to stay up all night–and probably many more nights to come–trying to figure out if it’s worth it.

When we hoped for the end.

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We were both kind of hoping the world would end. We didn’t really think it would–or I didn’t, at least. But we were hoping.

I looked at her facebook again today. I’ve looked at it more this past year she’s been dead than I ever did when she was alive. Since that day she passed, there’s been a lot from friends and family–notes of love and prayer sent into the cyber ether. Some of it sounds hopeful that somewhere, somehow, she can hear these words we speak to her. Other posts seem to be reaching out to another–any other–to share the pain of loss with. I’m not sure which of those categories my posts fall under. Neither I think. 

Today, I looked back farther, to the things she posted when she was alive–in the weeks just before she killed herself. If I had been on facebook during those weeks I was on the road, at least one post–about her boyfriend who had killed himself the year earlier–might have tipped me off that something wasn’t right. Another post, about “the end of the world,” December 21, 2012, had me thinking about years earlier, when I was capable of having a more serious conversation about the end of times.

I was convinced I was going to die by the time I was 21. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew, from a young age. 

When I was maybe 10 or 12 years old, I thought I had died. I went to bed one night wishing for death. This wasn’t unusual–I remember many nights feeling this way. Not because I was angry, or unhappy–but because of a nagging feeling that this thing called life–this endless, explainable persistence of being–seemed so unnecessary; seemed like such a struggle for no apparent reason. It was just a couple years earlier, during an educational IMAX movie on ancient Egypt, that I had been introduced to the concept of the after-life–a concept that I disliked immensely, though it fascinated me nonetheless. 

I thought, with all the naivety of a preteen, that the next life–if there was one–would be a whole lot more interesting than this one. And if their wasn’t one, well than there was nothing to worry about. But I didn’t want to kill myself, because in Sunday School I learned that was a sin. So instead I spent most nights before bed trying to “will myself” to death. It actually helped me get to sleep, because I suffered (and still do) from insomnia since I was about 8 years old.

So one night I was doing just that when, opening my eyes, I realized the whole world had gone black and white. I didn’t trust my eyes at first, so I got up and turned on the lights. I ran my fingers along the wood paneling on the walls, and over the objects cluttered along the shelves in the room my brother and I shared. I looked at his sleeping face. Everything–black, white, and in between shades of grey. 

And silence. Silence like I’ve never heard before, and am unlikely to ever hear again. Silence that doesn’t exist in nature. Silence from my own breath–my own heart beat. 

I turned off the light and laid back down. This must be death, I thought at first. But then, why was I still in my room? And why, if I was dead, was I not looking over my dead body, or floating through the ceiling into the sky? This must be something different, like an in between stage. I had wished for death, and this was sort of my “are you sure?” moment where I could take it back. 

I remember feeling frightened at the choice, but I don’t remember begging for my life back. There would be other nights I’d pray to some uncertain god for mercy, but it wouldn’t be that night. That night, I’d fall asleep. 

When I woke up, the whole world felt empty. I didn’t have school, so I walked out of the house–just walked the seemingly empty streets. I wasn’t certain whether I was alive or not, and I walked aimlessly, looking for someone.

I stopped in front of a house I was convinced was the home base of an alien research team. I telepathically appealed to them for help, but when they didn’t answer, I went and laid in the lawn of my old friend–the one that killed herself. 

I looked at the sky, and it seemed to me that falling from the clear blue abyss were thousands of tiny colorless flecks, and that these flecks were some kind of indicator that I was in an in-between world. I could only see them now because I was in fact not living, and I had to navigate my way out–either back to life, or towards death. 

After some time, I saw my friend’s sister standing over me. She asked if I was alright, and I don’t know what I said but soon after my friend was out there with me, sitting on the lawn, listening to me explain what I thought was going on.

She said it was quite possible that I was dead, and that she in fact had been sent to lead me to my next destination. It seemed to me, that she thought it was a game we were going to play–like the aliens were their own game, or voodoo witch craft performed in the woods were their own games too. 

But they weren’t games for me. I believed them, like only kids so young can believe. And I don’t remember what I said or did next, but it must have hurt her feelings, because I didn’t want to play along with the game. I wanted to figure out how I had died and what I should do next. 

For years after that day, life slowly regained its color. Slowly I began to except the fact that if I had in fact entered another stage of life, it’s reality was going to solidify until I had completely forgotten that I had died. Like a student graduating from school, unable to imagine her future in “the real world,” the past and future would seamlessly string together–the adult laughing at the fear she had as a child. 

And since then, I’ve more or less excepted the reality of this world. I’ve experimented with many drugs, but if anything, the drastic shifts in perception have only solidified my trust in my own senses. Whereas before, I believed in the possible invisible spirits and alternate universes–and to some extent a sort of supernatural ability I was capable of–I more or less believe now that the mind is creating much more than is there in the physical realm. If anything, it’s perhaps veered me away from what might have developed into a serious psychosis later in life.

What I’m left with, however, is a life without magic. Just information, that I soak up voraciously, but which leaves me feeling mostly demoralized by its volume and often depressed by its matter. So much suffering. So much struggle. For what? I’m still asking the same questions I was asking when I was 8 years old. What drives us to persist in this pointlessness?

It’s some consolation to write about this. But it would have been a greater consolation to have been able to talk to her about it. To talk to her, honestly, about why we hoped (but didn’t believe) the world would end. It would be a consolation to talk to someone. 

Winter is the season.

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The past few days, I’ve been afraid to keep track of time. Sometime in the next few days, the one year anniversary of my best friend’s suicide will pass. But I’m afraid to know which day that will be. I’m afraid to wake up that day and know–it was this day.

I’ve been thinking of her a lot these past few days. I built an effigy to burn for the New Year, but I forgot it at Dan’s apartment before we started the 20 minute hike to the bonfire. The effigy was a dedication to her. And I forgot it. When we got the fire going and I realized I had left it behind, it cast a shadow over the rest of the evening–a shadow that I couldn’t tell anyone else about. How could I start their New Year’s off with that?

I’ve been reading a lot about suicides. It seems that winter is the season for that. I started this one essay, thinking it might help me understand what was going through her head, but it’s only turned me around to thinking about my own problems.

That seems to be a common them with everything I’ve been reading. The more I try to understand her, the more I have to ask questions about myself. Or not really ask questions, but confront things–things I don’t understand, things I don’t like.

I feel like I need to do something. I don’t know what, but anything to ease this feeling. I let her down. I wasn’t there. But why? Am I a bad friend? Or am I just too tangled up in my own mental struggle that I’m blind to the struggles of others around me.

 

Everyone seems to be struggling. My parents are drowning in debt–the stress of keeping the business afloat is just barely clenched back through their teeth every time we speak. Friends are in and out of rehab. Everyone I know knows someone in jail–or on the way.

The more I learn about the lives of those around me, the more I wonder how they don’t just give up? I feel like–for me–I’m just barely able to handle this. And I’ve got it pretty good I think.

God I can focus. Not on this. Not on anything. Not now. I have to go.