I used to think I had friends, but I’m beginning to wonder what that means. I think maybe my heart is broken. It’s a pressure, a strange pulling. My body seems separate from “me,” somehow, like a costume. In the middle of a conversation, I sometimes wonder who the other person is talking to.
I feel like I’m expected to know who I am, but it’s hard when the people I want to take me seriously don’t take me seriously, and others assume I can do things I have no idea how to do. Where am I in this vast maze of vague assumptions? It’s like we’re all throwing darts at each other to create a crude outline. We’re surfing on waves of impressions.
I wish I knew who I am. Sometimes my self feels like a dream – a flow of absurd narratives connected only by the thin fiber of my consciousness. I am all joints and dreams. I sleep and wake up to the same face, and do what I am supposed to do until I sleep again.
My heart’s broken because I had one person who I thought was my friend, really thought he was my friend. He told me once he was in love with me, but now he thinks he’s in love with someone else. That’s a pain in itself, but where is our friendship in all of this? That’s the thing I wanted, someone to walk with for awhile. My special thing is gone. My special thing I probably never had in the first place.
My girl friends say I state the obvious too much. Sometimes, when I feel closest to them, I open up and let the pressure out of my head, and they look at me strangely as if the words of my heart are gibberish. Mostly we just joke and smoke and laugh. We watch campy movies and buy weird clothes. We drink coffee and go driving for hours and I often wonder what we’re doing at all besides being present with each other. That’s enough sometimes. Sometimes this is everything.
I thought that guy was my friend because we talked about weird and emotional things, because it was like we had no wall between us like there is with other people. I talked about my mom’s suicide with him, and he talked about his father drinking too much, and now his parents felt so distant from him, like they had this outline of a perfect son and when he didn’t quite fit they kind of turned cold. When he told me he loved me, and he still tells me he loves me, it felt like a very deep and true thing to say.
It’s not that I wanted to get married and sink into each other, I mean, maybe I’d have those thoughts, but I just wanted to walk together for awhile. This thing we had was the only cure for loneliness I had experienced. I thought I had found a tonic, but it had been yanked from me and absence of it leaves me hollow, raw and withdrawing from the only drug that ever worked.
I went to pray after school. The silent church felt right, like the right place to be for once. Maybe it was the emptiness and beauty that made me calm.
I prayed for a while. It’s hard to remember specific prayers. They’re a wish in the heart. A release.
Maybe I prayed for myself, or maybe a kindness filled up my mind. Maybe I prayed for all the secret pains of others, those pains invisible to me. Maybe I let go of myself for a moment.
The old priest saw me afterwards, and invited me into his office. He had those eyes that pierced through you. I was suspicious of eyes like that, maybe because I loved them too much. He looked at me quizzically, a look I was familiar with from adults. Sometimes the different generations feel like different species. Even though he had gone through youth, it was now foreign to him now. That’s what it felt like, anyway.
But still, we were buzzing with each other. Could have been just me that was buzzing. He asked me what I planned to do after I graduated and I went on about traveling the world and majoring in three different things. I said I wanted to write and teach and help people. Sometimes wild plans I had never even thought about would pour out of my mouth, and it was no wonder that I felt no one really knew me. I was unfocused, unbound. It was like I was acting out some subconscious idea I had of what it was like to be a bright, exciting, young woman with good prospects.
At some point I thought we were flirting, and it thrilled me. I felt beautiful, an embodiment of something he wanted. It’s a strange power to feel wanted, it has nothing to do with you. It’s just a thing that happens, a circumstance. It’s confusing because no matter what you look like, people are responding to this physical representation of you that you don’t quite understand, and have very little control over.
Feeling beautiful is a wonderful feeling, but it obscures me. It’s like wearing a mask you didn’t even pick out for yourself, and getting compliments on it. Of course, I didn’t pick out my brain, either. All of this just happened to me, to you. We did not plan it, but we sure get used to it. When you’re 17, though, you’re not used to it yet. It still feels strange and new. Beauty, whatever it is, seems like a gift you hand out that’s not yours to give. Your own mind feels like a stranger, like a new tool that needs breaking-in, that you use awkwardly and crudely, cutting out a rough life for yourself.
I too frequently draw the wrong lines between myself and everyone else. How did we all fit together? It just never quite made sense.
I went home that night and slept very deeply for the first time in weeks, probably. So deep was my need to sleep that I missed school the next day. I told my father I was sick, and he just grumbled at me. He had come to just put up with me because I had become this unknowable person after being a pretty fun child. I was maybe growing up into this adultish person who disappointed him, and maybe he didn’t even like. Or, he was just stressed and tired, and my consuming and mysterious needs were getting too much for him.
The next day I didn’t go to school, but it was my father’s decision this time. I was taken in the night.
In the middle of my second night of sleeping soundly, three men burst into my room and picked me up. Physically picked me up and out of my bed like I was a small dog or a sedated cat. I thought it was one of those conscious nightmares you could eventually willfully wake yourself from, but my father had really paid these people to kidnap me at four in the morning and put me in a van.
They informed me I was being taken to wilderness retreat to deal with my rebellion and drug issues. What drug issues? I asked them. What had I done? I didn’t have a phone to reach out to anyone, to ask anyone why. I didn’t have anything anymore but my body and my amorphous self. My heart was still broken, but through the miasma of sadness, an cold hard anger shot through. It was something, at last, that I could hold onto.