White Male, Spring, 2014.

My morning went, two alarms, check twitter to make sure today was real, not a dream, try to remember my dream, did it have something to do with the girl I work with(?), they all share qualities; a girl, a villain (as in someone worse than me) and my rise to recognition, my triumph, that’s how I know they are dreams, look at self in snapchat, coffee, clean room, push-ups, coffee, ignore cat, play with cat, coffee. Incense and sunshine fill my room. As clarity starts to fill my head I wish I could wander back down the corridors of my dreams. 

 

If other, parallel universes exist, there is one where the only difference in my character is which hand is dominant. I want to hang out with right-handed me. Of course, if that was the only physical difference, it still would completely alter how right-handed me’s life had played out. Something that minute, simply changing where the brain shoots the majority of its messages, could make him a totally different human being. I also want to meet girl me. In some other universe, there is a girl named Ashley or Angel or some shit, born from my parents, with the exact same taste and decision making process as me, the same likes and dislikes. She would be AWESOME. She would probably hate me and vice versa, but still, I want to meet her. 

 

What aura do I put off that tells the most broken, crippled people that I’m open for a spiritual shit on my chest? Freaks, oddities, those predetermined for purgatory, they smell me like a shark smells blood. I never even see them coming, not until they’ve blocked me off, their smile alerting me to the fact that they belong to this subculture who find my seemingly sad eyes the perfect wishing wells for their sorrow. I remember that twitchy kid at the barbershop, who after his approach, sat next to me, leaning in close, his scent invading my privacy. But this morning, god it had been a good morning, this morning I was assaulted with the burden of another’s rock bottom. She was heavyset, middle aged. Finally finishing college. Grey wool sweater, grey wool hat, leggings (which she shouldn’t have been, but I applaud her bravery) and boots, a old woman attempting to feel the college vibe. Her left arm was in a cast. It started innocently enough, as all these encounters do. “That will be the 1 bus” I said, answering her initial question. And so begins her unloading, her emotional baggage flying from her mouth, into my ears, and sitting heavy on my heart. I slipped on the ice, she says, broke my (whatever the arm bone is called). Get my cast off in a week. I say good and nod, I do what I always do. Provide sympathy at the lowest charge. I also have a cold, sniffle, she says. Had to drop out of two classes. I just want to graduate. Get better I say, fleeing to the recently open bus door. I go all the way to the back seats, doubting the possibility she had more to say. She follows, sits in the one remaining row behind me, and puts her hand on my shoulder. Her story goes from her struggle with school, back to her, to the real stinger, the dagger that put a smile on my face, because I finally recognized what she was, what she was doing to me, what all these people do to me, and how truly incapable I am of dealing with it. Her friend broke a hip snowmobiling. After transferring hospitals, she didn’t see him again. A week into his new dull, sterile home, he died. They don’t know why. She called three days in a row before anyone told her what happened. Tears rolled down her chubby Montanan cheeks, the bus lurched, and I struggled to figure out what to say. Part of me, wanted to comfort, to turn around and hug her, tight, too tight and her arm would pain her. The other wanted to laugh, at me being in this fucking spot again. Instead I mumbled sorry. It was too late to put my headphone back in. When she left I wished her good luck, I said get better, and she said “you too”. That struck deep. 

 

Who am I, why do I bare strangers loads, what sign is posted to my back that says emotionally unavailable good listener? Am I Jesus? Am I being tested? Does someone want to remind me that life will never, ever, be pretty? That no matter how much sentimentality we attach to things, how hard we laugh or sweet we smile, we are ultimately flawed, crippled animals cursed with awareness? Should I look at these peoples dependency on me showing up to offer them a new shoulder to wet as something beautiful? Some sign that I’m special in some way I can’t quite understand? It makes for interesting subject matter at least. It also adds to the guilt I feel when I see a homeless person, or a physical cripple, knowing my internalized sadness is self-constructed and unjustifiable. It only deepens my depression, and like studying philosophy, it repopulates only with the purpose of propagating itself. 

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