It’s the fourth of July. Early afternoon, but I feel like the day is mostly over. Or should be. I got up at 6:30 a.m., went for a jog, and, once I got home again, threw myself back into bed, running clothes and all. For the most part, I’ve been here ever since. Sure, I’ve gotten up to use the bathroom and put food in my face. I also got up to sweep under my bed for some inexplicable reason. But after completing each and every one of these quaint activities today – the sweeping, the eating, the jogging, the standing in the front of the air conditioner to cool off – I’ve gotten back in bed, which is where I am now. Supine, with a cat curled up at my feet.
Am I depressed? Lonely?
Perhaps a little of both. Rightfully so, given the recent circumstances of my life: the break-up, the boredom and extra time of its aftermath, the thinking. It’s just been me, my head, and my bed lately.
Still, I shouldn’t be shirking duties; specifically, I shouldn’t be eschewing fast-approaching deadlines like I have been all day. And all yesterday. And all last week. And probably all tomorrow. I should be writing. I should want to be writing. But, instead, I’ve been watching “Sense8” on Netflix.
It’s not the greatest show, but it fills up my time. There was this one scene, however, that got me thinking. In it this junkie dude – some tertiary character who doesn’t seem that important to the primary storyline – shows off these tally marks he’s got tattooed above his clavicle. “Every time I wake up and someone tells me I shouldn’t be alive, I get a new one,” he says. He’s talking to Riley, one of the show’s main characters – a disaffected, disenchanted young woman with purple hair and a frown. Much like the entire series, the whole scene is a bit cliche – full of tropes we’ve all seen and heard of before: the proud junkie talking about how the world is so fucked up that of course he’s going to “check out” of it every time he gets a chance, blah, blah, blah.
But it did get me thinking. About myself, of course. And about my current state of inertia in particular. How I’m essentially watching “Sense8” in order to “check out” of my current obligations. If I get really “meta” about my life, which is what I’ve sort of half-heartedly been doing all day, I’ll eventually burrow so deep into my own thoughts on life that I’ll strike an impenetrable surface. I won’t be able to dig any deeper. That’s because this impenetrable surface is made of solid guilt. At the core of every one of my self-inquiry escapades is shame and guilt – the stuff of stubborn immobility, self-loathing, and The Smiths.
I don’t mean to be a drag, or imply that I hate myself. Because I don’t. But I do wonder, a little ashamed, yes, with a hint of apologetic curiousity: What right do I have to want anything other than being alive? Shouldn’t I just be grateful for that? Were I more of an attention-baiting exhibitionist, I’d have my own assemblage of tally marks tattooed somewhere on my body. But then I’d have to explain my past and that’s usually the last thing I want to do.
I met this old dude once who had this jacked-up disfigured face, like his skin had once been removed below his cheekbones and then crudely sewn back on by a five-year-old. He was a sweet old man. And a fucking happy one too. “You’re probably wondering about my face,” he’d said to me, smiling. At least I think he was smiling. “Years ago,” he said, “I got so drunk that I decided to try and kill myself. My plan was to shoot myself in the head with my shotgun. As you can see, I fucked that up real good.”
He probably had to issue this explanation every other day. It wasn’t like he could hide the literal scars of his past.
One of the first things I wondered about the guy was whether or not someone had loved him afterward. But even if someone didn’t, he sure seemed to love himself. In a healthy way; there was nothing narcissistic about him at all.
Shouldn’t I feel grateful, then, just to have a face? One that I can bury into a pillow when I lie down?
The answer is: probably.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings.