When I was in high school I sometimes stood outside the front door, a singular human standing alone before a building housing over 1700 humans, none of which knew my name for any reason but to discipline me if I ran afoul of the rules. I can name one teacher from my four years of school, and zero students; and on occasion while in that world, the gravity of that reality would suck the life out of me as I leaned against the school's front sidewalk railing sucking the life out of cigarette after cigarette.
parents had their own woes, they were engrossed in lives far more
complex than mine. My siblings were dealing with the family in opposing
ways, one by lashing out, one by withdrawing, the last too young to
understand why everyone was on the defense, but none with any interest
in my comings and goings unless I were to get in one's way.
of my few friends were older than I and so, long out of the control of
truancy officers. That's the biggest reason I stayed in school, the
threat of being made a negative focal point by administrators, cops and
in the end, my father; followed by the thought that I actually could
make something of my life if I stuck to it. I didn't stick to it. Just
goes to show ya...
It was crushing some days, the loneliness,
having to put on the show that I was indifferent to my being ignored.
I'm sure I looked quite the hard ass standing out there, smoking on
school grounds in violation of the rules within a few yards of the
school principal's office windows. But as often as not I wondered
whether life would ever be different for me, whether I'd always need to
entertain myself, whether illegal drugs would be my only salvation and
those I got stoned alongside, my only friends.
I felt that way
when I became maritally separated each time it happened; it drove me
right back to that railing where there was nothing but a black hole to
stare off into and a pile of cigarette butts at my feet to prove I
existed at all. And I felt it again recently after having watched a movie
about being forgotten.
The movie was good, not great, not bad,
but worth my five bucks and a couple hours of time. The premise was
interesting, the acting superb and two of my favorite people entertained
me in the form of Alfre Woodard and Gary Sinise.
But when it was
over it suddenly dawned on me that I was alone in the theater. Linda
stopped going to movies years ago and while weekday afternoons were
generally reserved by the normal people for working, I was on a long unemployed stretch; so it was me and
the half full bag of popcorn and leaky soda and a hundred eighty one
empty seats. In that space between the fade to black and house lights up,
there was this moment when I was reminded just how alone I am in the
universe, and how quickly even my memory would be forgotten if I were to
vanish for some reason.
I'd thought about it in high school;
just hit the road and not look back. I had relatives that had done it,
it wasn't a particularly novel idea. I have to wonder if my life would
have been different under different circumstances, or if my shit would
have followed me wherever I went, as if a karmic tattoo. It doesn't
matter, I never did it obviously. I couldn't stand the thought of being
any more isolated than I already was, of spending the rest of my life
without any backstop, no one to turn to in crisis, no one that had
gleaned my name from a source other than a time card.
make me weak in the knees now like it did then, but I still get a pit in
my stomach when I realize how invisible I am, how little I've
accomplished, how few I've moved. I don't think of it often nowadays,
but sometimes I'm reminded; by a movie, or a piece of news, or a
pregnant pause in the pitch blackness when I have time to remember.