So I went back in time last week. I drank Jack Daniels and watched the remake of Evil Dead.
I got home from the theatre before midnight. My mother and her boyfriend were out at a friend’s house for dinner and weren’t home yet.
I still live in the same house I was born in. Twenty-three years last week.
I was tipsy and not ready to crawl into bed all alone. My horoscope said that today (Saturday) was supposed to put my life onto a new trajectory and so far it hadn’t been fulfilled. Perhaps that was what propelled me to change into hiking pants and my raincoat and venture out into my suburban neighbourhood in the middle of the night. I had not completed my destiny for the day and I like to check things off my to-do list.
Actually, that’s how Starbucks hooked me into their points scheme. One more purchase and I’ll have a Gold Card. I like to achieve goals.
I’m an over-achiever.
So I find myself walking into the night with my iPhone, keys to the house, and a Fudgesicle (yes, a chocolaty popsicle). It’s raining and dark, and I’m hoping to have some kind of epiphany before the album I’m listening to finishes.
Private music should be illegal. Wasn’t there a time when you could only listen to music in a crowd? When I put on my headphones, all of a sudden the world revolves around only me and I get cocky as fuck, self-absorbed, and emotional.
I am walking around my elementary school and I remember how I had my heart broken by my Internet lover at fifteen. I had put on my running shoes on a dark and rainy night like this and after running for ten minutes I sat down on the swings and cried my heart out. I knew I had to break up with this boy because he treated me like garbage and made me so insecure I still feel the repercussions now, twelve years later.
I finish my Fudgesicle and toss the stick into the grass. It’s biodegradable I’m sure. Only problem is that it’s not a diet Fudgesicle… I’m used to eating these 40 calorie things and my mom accidentally bought the full-180 calorie version.
Well, we can’t waste food or else children in Africa will die. So I eat the extra calories and tell myself I’m burning it off by being outside.
I’m at the gravel field where the majority of my memories of being bullied as a child occur. Being human is a ridiculous thing, isn’t it? On the far end of the school I see a guy who looks like someone I used to go to school with. He stands by himself in front of a classroom; the ground is littered with beer cans.
At ten years old I was given a large (one-meter) blow-up ball for my birthday. I took it to school to show off and try to make friends. The girls who had been bullying me offered to play with me and kicked the ball out-of-bounds on purpose. They told me to go get it, but when I got back onto the school grounds I found the girls with a duty-aid (an adult supervisor) waiting for me. I was sent to the principal’s office for breaking the rules and my ball popped soon after.
However, the day I arrived at school with homemade stilts nobody bothered me.
At the far end of the field, I remember that we had this thing called the Kilometer Club. Student’s were encouraged to get fit by running around the field, and every four laps we would get a popsicle stick which said we had run a kilometer.
I pull out my iPhone and open my Jog Log app. I start the app and begin walking around the field. I didn’t quite believe that four laps around this mini-field was actually a kilometer.
Three-quarters through the first lap I find a small air-filled ball. I reach down and push on it… it’s flat. Still, I kick it and it goes rolling to the other end of the field. I chase after it and kick it around another two laps.
I lose the ball somewhere in the dark corner by the goal posts. I complete my 4th lap and my iPhone tells me I walked 0.92 Kilometers.
Not quite a Kilometer then.
Am I having an existential crisis again? I thought I went through this 6 months ago… It seems I have to go through this on a biannual basis.
I smile as I remember my last epiphany.
I was in South Africa and reminded myself how I was just a mass of atoms, floating around aimlessly and not actually separated from the rest of the world. I had finished a depressing book about The Emergency in India and couldn’t shake the blues. I went for a run and found myself staring at a pod of Southern Wright Whales frolicking at Muizenberg beach. I thought, “why do I have to be a human being? Why can’t I just go play with those whales and not worry about anything but food and predators?”
Then I remembered high school science class. The whales are a bunch of atoms, the water is another bunch of atoms, and the air and my body are other bunches of atoms. There is nothing disconnecting me from nature and the universe except my own stupidity.
“Being human is a ridiculous thing, isn’t it? “
I tweet this, and then I post it on Facebook too because I want to make sure everyone knows I’m having deep thoughts.
I walk through the trails connecting cul-de-sacs with forest and more cul-de-sacs. I go through a path I had never tried before because I never had time to explore it. Turns out that it connects to a road I was familiar with, and is actually a short cut that I had missed for twenty-three years.
The trail is a loop and I end up back at the playground where I cried when I was fifteen… and many times before that I’m sure.
There is a hill where all the students used to toboggan when we were lucky enough to have snow. I lie down on the wet grass and find that I only have three songs left on the album.
The water soaks through my pants and I lie and squint at the purple sky, my vision ringed with the tops of pine trees. I open my mouth and try to catch the rain on my tongue.
It seems to fall everywhere on my face except for my tongue. I stick my tongue out further.
The music fades, and I imagine what it might be like if some kids came up onto the hill and found me lying there, splayed out like a dead person with their tongue sticking out.
I’m too good-looking to be doing weird shit like this.
I stand up and start to walk home. I’m feeling alone and dejected, but I’ve had some sort of catharsis. I look at the other end of the park and the guy with the beer cans is gone. A group of teens walk up the path and are overtaken by some late-night jogger in neon shorts.
Just as I reach the gates to my housing community, I see my mother’s boyfriend’s car pull up. What are the chances of that? Here I am, moping around in the rain like some loner and I can’t even get the peace and quiet of an empty house?
The car window rolls down and I hear my mom asking if I have a key. I open the gate and they drive in.
So it doesn’t even matter how much I want to be alone in this world. No matter what I do, I’m connected. A mass of atoms connected with another mass of atoms.
The only thing keeping me from the rest of the world is my own stupidity.