silent capitol hill.

i saw jonathan on the bus yesterday. he sat down next to me, and we got to talking. "how've you been?" "not so good," he said. it was the kind of answer i would expect from jonathan. "s.u. decided they had to let me go." he said this as though the school was his employer. "why's that?" "i just kept missing too many classes." i should note that, along with the bus' constant rumbling and jonathan's mumbling, it was a bit difficult to understand him. i could only string together selected phrases, and then somehow, mentally glue them all together to form a coherent answer. "couldn't you just take fewer classes?" he shook his head. "i've already tried that. it was still too much."

from what i understand, jonathan has many problems, but the only one i can truly pinpoint is severe social anxiety disorder. he never really looks at me when he's talking. he'll just look straight ahead and say, "i was only taking ten credits last quarter." "so what are you doing now?" "job searching like crazy," he said. "where are you looking?" "i've tried a bunch of different temp agencies, and i've already heard back from a few." "oh, that's good." it was difficult to keep a conversation going with him. he wouldn't ask me any questions, so it became a very one-sided conversation. either that, or i was a journalist interviewing my subject.

"where have you worked before?" "safeco field during events. never again," he said. "why, was it difficult?" "not really. just the people. so many people." he looked like he was on the verge of hyperventilating just thinking about the experience. "i've also tutored math and worked at a cat shelter." sometimes, too, i would ask him a question and he would just do something weird with his face in lieu of an answer. example: "do you still have friends from high school who live in seattle?" answer: a look like he had just eaten some very bad broccoli.

i've thought about the jobs i've had, the friends i have. my resume must make a little more sense, comparatively speaking. i pictured inviting him over to john's house, as we'd watch really random movies and play rock band. would he sing, play the plastic drum set, or just look really bored and uncomfortable? what's the difference between being shy and having extreme social anxiety disorder? is it just a state of mind. i pictured my friends never saying but always thinking, "why'd you bring this nut along?"

i examined my other motives for the possibility of hanging out with him. would it be just to say that i have a black friend? was it because i felt so bad for him, and knew what it was like to be unemployed and living at home and feeling like the whole world was leaving him behind? i had nothing in common with him. he makes bird noises and weird facial gestures and talks of anime and advanced calculus. i avoided it altogether. i stayed as vague as possible. "send me a message sometime, and maybe we'll go do something," i said.

he nodded, fully accepting that all we'll ever do is talk on buses sometimes.

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