if i am lost, it's only for a little while.


i can understand this desire to just work and come home. it's a good feeling to fill the day with meaningless tasks and then come home to sleep, eat, read, watch cable, do whatever. complacency is king; mediocrity rules. it's almost as though i want to enslave myself, or at least deprive myself of any freedom, so that i can enjoy the freedom i have when i'm not working. when one experiences too much freedom, though, someone like myself, a product of catholic schools and suburban lock-your-doors-and-don't-make-eye-contact living, he begins to doubt that he deserves freedom in the first place. we live in a country that had its roots in adventure, revolution, and freedom, but we'll die in this mental gated community.

yesterday, they told us workers that we'd have the option of coming in at 7:30 am, a half hour earlier than usual, to catch up on test grading. as usual, i told myself i would get there at said time, in order to make an extra $7.50 for the half hour of work. when my alarm clock went off at 6:15, i hit snooze. four minutes later, i reset the alarm to 6:45. i felt guilty. i never work, and the few days that i do, i refuse to do anything extra. i'm being lazy, i know. i've grown up in a family and community that does not tolerate laziness, and i have to admit i am lazy. i think the whole reason for obtaining a college degree was just to ward off any doubt that i might also be unable to follow directions.

darwin, my eldest cousin, is the black sheep of the family. he never got his driver's license, and he always did poorly in school. i heard that when he was a kid, he stole money (hundreds of dollars) from his sister, claire, and spent it all on candy. as a punishment, his dad drove him to juvenile hall and told him to get out of the car. darwin was forced to walk back to their apartment. darwin never got his driver's license. he hung out with rosemont thugs who smoked dope and wore big, puffy black jackets and white sox hats. later in life, he married a girl in the navy named connie, and they seemed to be doing well for a while. i heard that while she was at work, darwin would come along with her and sit in the car the entire time. obviously, it didn't work out. the few times he showed up for family gatherings during the holidays, he would immediately dampen the mood and make things awkward.

once, he bragged to me about doing ecstasy, and another time, he told a long story about how his friend ron had to hide his gun in the glove compartment, since there were a lot of cops at the mall. as the years progressed, darwin became more prone to ghetto-talk, sounding as uneducated and unsophisticated as everyone had already branded him since early childhood. another time, he allegedly broke into my aunt's house, stole my cousin's money and gift cards, and ordered comcast porn. my aunt installed a home security alarm after that. when i was a senior in college, things became even worse for him. apparently, he got into an argument with his mom and he even threatened her. as a result, she threw him out. from then on, he was unemployed and homeless. he showed up to my uncle's house around christmas time, and my uncle told him he couldn't stay there. claire was living with my uncle at the time, and she let him sleep in her car.

i remember hanging out with my cousin late one night, and as i was leaving, i saw him reading the paper in the backseat of claire's silver civic. there i was, a college boy on winter break, learning about dante aligheri's exile from florence, italy, wondering what it would be like to never see family again, to never have a home. and here was my cousin, in his early thirties, experiencing just that.

i can't be angry with my family for never giving him a chance. after all, they did give him chances, plenty of them, and he always blew it. my family even paid for him to live in a type of care home for a while, and he got himself evicted for going through his house-mate's belongings. each time my aunt or my mom brings him up, they always say the same thing: "he needs a professional evaluation." he's living in montana now, and he has two kids. i don't know how he got there, or even what he's doing.

sometimes i think the only difference between me and him is a piece of paper i got with my name on it.

what if my parents had split up? what if i didn't get to go to private school? what if my dad had constantly belittled me in front of his friends, calling me a loser? what if my younger cousin had told me that not only could i not stay at his house, but that i had to get the fuck out of there? what if i didn't know how to file for unemployment? what if my only friends were a bunch of pot-smoking, 40-drinking lowlifes who didn't know how to communicate on the most basic level? what if i couldn't pass a simple driving test? what if i was lost, and i had absolutely nowhere to go? what if i felt like this world could swallow me up any minute?

there sits that piece of framed paper on the shelf, collecting dust.

3 comments:

ultrafknbd said...

Ultimately, satisfaction, happiness, and accomplishment are subjective. Ignorance is truly bliss but such a lifestyle can be crushed with the gentlest of serious musings - it only takes once and the odds seemingly aren't in your favour, but then again, I often proven wrong.

ms.meggie said...

the difference is: you have the paradisio, that is, a vivid internal life and the ability to communicate it. imagine life without this catharsis.

EasilyEntertained said...

these two comments above are waaay too optimistic. Life is hell and then you die.