Depression’s heavy. Cinder blocks lined on your shoulders heavy. Beached whale heavy. Burden-laden, love-ridden, endless insomniac nighttime, television watching heavy.
I lost myself in the rows of gravestones looking for his, Teddy’s–a high school friend who died before graduation. Izzy wanted to visit the cemetery, and since they have no dead relatives they knew or cared about, we sought out the people who I knew. I sat on the ground with Shaun in front of where my friend now rests. This being the second time I paid him a visit since he died in 2001. There was no privacy, so I didn’t talk to the dirt or rock. And it’s funny, though. After all these years of not believing in a god, a heaven or hell, a soul, or an afterlife, I still manage to talk to the dead as if their metaphysical selves linger on this earth. Some practices are not easily forgotten, and perhaps they aren’t due to therapeutic purposes.
Even if I was left to my thoughts, what words would I say? Hi, Teddy. Sorry I haven’t visited much. I’m too busy living, something you weren’t given the opportunity to experience. Not the in the same sense as the rest of us, anyway. And exactly what would have you become if you had? A doctor? A lawyer? A political figurehead that would have changed the game? Who cares about any of that, anyway? There’s this myth that it’s not who you are that defines you, but what you do that makes you who you are. I don’t think that’s true. It’s not who you are or what you do that defines a person, it’s those you leave behind in the end. The people who love you and carry you around long after your gone. This is my son and I love him dearly. His mother and I, well, we weren’t cut out for each other, I suppose. I really wish we were, though. But things are great. My son loves me. And I suppose if no one else does, at least I have that to keep me moving forward. And that’s what I most sorry for, Teddy. It’s not that you didn’t get the opportunity to make a mark on this world, it’s that you never got to feel what I’m feeling–never had the experience of fatherhood.
I’m not good at reading people’s emotions. I can’t say I lack empathy, but it’s not something I experience often enough. I tread lightly around others because I don’t know what they’re going to do. People are a mystery to me. What compels them to smile, cry, grow angry, or whatever is a mystery. I’m not a fan of Descartes, but to paraphrase him: I know I’m a creature of thought and ration, but what are you?
And the worse of it is, I never know how to react to others’ emotions. I never see them as angry or sad until it affects me. A reason, I may add, that makes me a terrible boyfriend.
A while ago, I stopped at my boss’s office to have a chat. Nothing major, just wanted to talk about–what else–my life (I’ve learned that this never works, as I’m often times pulled into a conversation that doesn’t pertain me, but I have to listen quietly because it’s social contract that if I want to talk about me, I have to listen as they talk about themselves). She starts off by stating something about the people upstairs (literal, not figuratively), then apologizes for crying (which I didn’t notice until she mentioned it). We spoke about this before. Told her a couple of times, actually. I can’t read people, and I never know how to react when someone is crying. Especially if that someone isn’t an intimate (at least I can hug them).
And something happened today, I became anxious. An emotion transferred to me by my coworkers. Even though I accredit it to the fact that their anxiety only made me anxious, and not empathy, I was proud of myself for a moment. It passed as I tried to read the face of my coworker and saw nothing. I looked at the face of my boss, and nothing.
Someone once told me I care too much about what people think of me. As a regular joe, I guess I do. But I lived my whole life not being able to see what people were thinking or feeling, that I don’t think it’s any more than I should.
When it was time to go, I punched out. But Angela was still in the back, so I remained at the seat until it was officially time for me to leave. I went to retrieve her when my ride arrived, and she looked at her watch (she’s one of the few people who I know who wears one) and asked why I didn’t call her before. “It’s called kindness,” I responded. “I do that sometimes.”
And I felt it. The creepy feeling I always get before the waves wash over me and I’m drowning. As I said my goodbyes, the undertow pulled me beneath the water and her voice and face were but a garble to my senses.
I played the absent lover in most of my relationships. The one loved the feeling of being loved, but resented the obligation of returning the affection.
Don’t misquote that. I have and still love certain people. The obvious people who I won’t list. And no matter who’s stuck around, there is one that has never left my side even in its absence. The personification of the illness that grows through me. That lies in wait for an opportunity to pounce and devour me. The thing that isolates me further. The curtain will fall one day, and hopefully I’ll understand this life when my last performance fades to black. Because, don’t we all get it in the end?