Amidst a vast sea of disappointment there are chances, few and far between, to experience wonderment beyond the imagineable, to learn what it is to live and to know what it is to love. Teach yourself to recognize them and breathe in the soft breeze of joy.
‘Drogon,’ she sang out loudly, sweetly, all her fear forgotten. ‘Dracarys.’ The black dragon spread his wings and roared.
George RR Martin, A Storm of Swords
I taste metal.
I’m alone in a room, it’s cold, I’m hot. It smells of formaldehyde, and bleach. The walls are green, tinted by the light from the slime-colored window. The floor is made of bathroom-tile, stained with dirt, dust, and decay.
I look out the window.
Tinted green I see my friends. People I love, and loved. People who shared my warmth in cold times, and my cold in dark times. People who care for me. I also see demons. Retched gaunt, stooping and baring their filed teeth, as sharp as their nails. Despite their hideousness, I recognize them as my enemies. Insurgents in my life, fighting for control over me and rewards for themselves at the cost of my emotions.
Then I see him.
He has chains sewn to his arms, on one side: my friends and my family tug at the chains, they are his friends too. The other side the demons pull with their decaying hands, laughing and sneering. Crouched like spiders, their horde crawls along the chain, laughing and throwing insults.
The demons win the tug-of-war.
Through the putrid window I see him break. Cracking under the pull he yells, and falls to his knees; tears in his eyes. Alone and vulnerable now, the demons charge. Chattering their teeth they fall upon him, tearing him apart through and through. Ripping at his chest with claws of steel, and gnawing at his bone with teeth as sharp as blades. They laugh and laugh, and taunt the other group to intervene; to save their friend.
They do not move.
Tears well in the friends eyes, but the show of remorse is short lived. They become bystanders, and demons themselves. Some joining the slaughter, some sitting by idly, laughing and jeering as their former-friend is broken.
I break the glass.
Frantically, I run out to help him. Scattering the demons, I find a man broken, beaten, scarred, but not dead. His arms are ripped out of his joints, his legs are gashed and stained crimson. His face is…
His face is mine.
I help him up, and with his arm slung over my shoulder, I limp him into the green-tinted room, and to safety. His friends stare, they do not recognize me, though their shame is palpable. They do not enter the room. They can’t.
There are times in my life that I find a positive side of everything. I rationalize the bad with good and I make the best out of not-so-wonderful situations. A glass-half-full guy.
Other times I find myself stuck outside the box looking at others and wondering why I can’t feel what they’re feeling: love, joy, comfort, happiness; sadness, anger, frustration. I don’t feel, I watch and I observe, calculate and decide what the most appropriate response may be. I find the taste of love to be a bitter and distracting one. The taste of desire is one marked by swift and fleeting gratification.
And then there are times when I feel nothing but pain.
I feel burdened by the eyes of those who think I am something I’m not. Those eyes that think I’m all good, and those eyes that think I’m all bad. The judging and hot eyes that would sooner find me alone chained to a chair to torture however they please. The cool anger in the eyes of someone scorned whether on purpose or not.
I feel hated. And I always thought I could be the bad guy. But, I hate it.
There’s nothing I can do, though. There’s no way to show that I am not a disgusting jerk, an ignorant fool, a hateful asshole, an insensitive douche, a liar.
So, I sit here at my desk, my neck sore and my head pounding. I sit in a cloud of sadness, and anger. Anger at myself, anger at my friends, anger at anyone and everyone. Thinking, plotting, manipulating every aspect of life in my head. Allowing myself a sense of control. I sit here thinking and planning, but my glass is empty.
I free my mind. And then it flies.
Free from obligations, emotions, feelings. Free from caring, free from you people that tell me to do things, you people that manipulate me (oh, I see you), you people that feign love for your own purposes. The shackles are shaken off my brain, and finally I see as I’m supposed to. I see strategies through life, I see success and I see everything I need to become everything I want.
My mind is free. And it flies.
Calculative, and manipulative. No conscience to stop my desire, no little-voice to whisper “no.” Everything I can be becomes real as I shake the impeding restraints of morality. Of emotion. There are no repercussions of my choices (none that I care about) and my mind is clear as a summer’s day with apathy.
My mind flies. And my heart races.
I sit and think, the way I was built to think. A problem solver at heart, I calculate all possible outcomes of all possible situations in life. My heart pounds to the excitement that is my thought-process. The physiological symptom of a racing mind. The weight of emotion lifted, my mind has no attachment to anything to anyone to any task or any need. Clarity is what remains. My mind is a blank sheet of paper, grassy plains for miles in every direction, a body of water that moves toward the horizon.
And I fly.
I’ve always striven to be a good person. Whether that be settling arguments, being a catalyst for success, giving advice or simply being there when needed. I’ve striven to be punctual, polite and charismatic. I’ve striven to be a leader when a group needs one, and I’ve striven to being a friend to everyone, even if just superficially.
But it can be tiring, and people can change.
Lately, I’ve had an infatuation with discord. I wouldn’t say that I live for drama, because I think those people are pathetic. More so I live for strife, and enjoy causing it. I feel as though the darkest parts of me have had time to rejuvenate in the normalcy that was an enjoyable high school experience. But high school is over, I’m relatively lonely and idle hands are—in fact— the devil’s playthings.
There’s a sinking feeling that reverberates through me every time I wake up, and every time I lie down. Like a searing hot pain it stabs through my essence and spreads sadness throughout my heart and mind. I feel my mind snapping through every trial in my life over and over again. My body aches, particularly my neck, as an overwhelming pessimism attacks my bones. My stomach turns cold as the infection spreads, and I close my eyes and bite my tongue, hoping no tear will escape and no whelp will come unwillingly.
And then it passes, leaving me numb.
I can only describe this numbness as an extreme sense of freedom. Not to feel pain, not to feel obligation to anyone. Not to feel guilt or hate. In the moments following the knifing loneliness I am liberated from the social contract, and I can live. A Hyde complex.
It is euphoric. I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, I would never choose to hand my free will to some other power. This euphoria, however, keeps my free will, and dissipates my invasive discretion. In speech, in writing, in feeling I become less than discreet.
To understand how the loss of prudence frees me, you have to understand: I live my life second guessing everything I say. If I like a girl, I triple check everything I say in my head. If I’m scared I’ll offend a friend, I will become so neutral that my own opinion is lost and trampled. I live a slow, calculatingly painful existence. Always worrying, always biting my tongue, beating around the bush, holding back and sugar coating.
But when I’m Hyde…
…I’m liberated. I feel the pressure alleviate, the eyes of judgement close and the scrutiny of society becomes irrelevant. And it feels good.
But I know, despite enjoying the spirit of my darkness, that I have a brighter future. The darkness gets me through days, it gives me strength, it gives me pleasure and it makes life easier. But I’m starting to realize that life isn’t suppose to be easy. I’m not suppose to retreat into apathy when I’m a little lonely. I’m suppose to care.
So, here’s to caring.
Here’s to living in pain and in happiness. Here’s to the best life I can make for myself. Here’s to becoming everything I’ve ever wanted to being. Here’s to finding someone to spend my life with. Here’s to me, the darkness and the light, because I wouldn’t be me without either, and I like me. I truly do.
I hope you know that I’m always here to make the coffee. God knows you aren’t going to do it.
You left the milk out after you left for work this morning, can you get on that…
The kids are going to need a ride to that party on Saturday, I was thinking we could take them together and then have some “us” time?
I want you to know that you are the most perfectly gorgeous thing I have ever laid my eyes on (besides that time I got the newest Xbox console for Christmas).
Sup, babe. I just wanted to say that.
I’m making YOU a sandwich tonight, because I love you.
As much as I would LOVE to have people over, the Giants are playing.
They say time flies, but as a hold your purse in JCPenny it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
I want more kids, you’re boring.
Yeah Mom, can we go to the POOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLL.
We need milk.
We need sugar.
I need you.
I need you to need me.
I need you.
I need you.
You are still so beautiful.
I love you very much.
My greatest joy in life is the connections I have with people. And I realize some of you might sit there and read that and say “Well Zach, you don’t seem like someone who goes out seeking that which you say is your greatest joy.” And you’re right to think that, because I don’t. I’m terrible at it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t my greatest joy.
There’s nothing better than having a friend that you can sit down and talk to about anything: hauntings, food, religion, politics, that incurable disease known as “love”. It gives me solace, and it calms me, despite my susceptibility to wallow in anger and hate, in sadness and loneliness.
Tonight, I want to thank one particular person for alleviating the particularly macabre shadow that follows me around on a day-to-day basis. It’s no easy feat to be my friend.
If you’re reading, you might know me to have a Dark Passenger, but thank you for being a friend to me in my darkest days.