Lose Yourself

November 8, 2010
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In darkest depths of our minds, quivering beneath our shallow expectations of the world around us, anticipating what will never become, lies our true self; the one we can rely on most. There are parts of our persona we don’t quite agree with, because they are the parts we fake in order to satisfy those around us. Sometimes I just have to lose myself to make sure I’m really still there . . .

The world seems desolate and worthless to me as I hear my feet clapping through the rain puddles that litter the ground. There isn’t a sun out today; it’s shy, I suppose, hiding behind its less bright cousins, the clouds. The sky is shaded several tints of gray and black, and some of the clouds are even low-hanging and snow white. It’s about mid-afternoon, I guess. Hardly any cars ever pass me by where I walk on the sidewalk; it must be a relatively slow day. Either that or nobody feels like leaving and braving the possible downpour that may occur.

My phone suddenly vibrates in my pocket, radiating its motion throughout my semi-slender thigh. I don’t even hesitate in pulling it out when I feel the second vibration, because only one jolt is a text, and several means it’s a call. My system is simple. Feel a vibration, pause and wait for an anticipated second one, and if there is a second, pull the phone out and answer it. I never got calls unless it was important, you see. I’m one of those borderline loners that nobody really notices unless they become of a certain use to you.

The caller ID reveals that it’s my friend Jessica, one of my very close friends. But this is also a curious occasion; she almost never calls me. Ever. Despite our closeness. “Hello?” I answer.

“Hey!” Jessica replies in her animated voice. “Wanna hang out?”

“Like, right now?” I take a second to pause my stride, looking around to assess my location. If I’m going to make a course adjustment to meet her, then I surely have to know where I am, after all.

“Yeah! Right now! How does the park sound?” But I know Jessica. She doesn’t usually hang out unless she’s with a lot of other people. You see, when she’s in a crowd, there are more people, therefore someone is bound to make her the center of attention.

“Who all is gonna be there?” I play my game slyly. Accusations never go far with me.

“Well . . .” I let a smile creep across my lips as I realize that I caught her off guard. “Me, Jeremiah, Sarah, you know. The group.”

“Okay. I’ll be there in fifteen.” Why not, I reason. There was nothing stopping me and nothing to encourage me. It was all my decision, and I chose to go. What’s a little crowd sweeping anyway?

I decide to cut across the junkyard to get to the park more quickly, which is a few blocks from the other side of the establishment. Of course, it would be an adventure, like every other time I’ve tried to cut through the junkyard. The guard dogs usually find me and give chase, but I like the danger. Danger is my unwilling fuel; I crave it for some unknown reason, even if it is in the form of running from junkyard dogs.

I creep over the fence and over the top of junk cars and pieces of sheet metal that people decided were apparently worthless, though they always look fine to me. I reach the halfway point through the yard, still seeing no sign of the dogs. They must be snoozing. I press on and meet the high point of the crossing: the twenty-foot stretch where one has no choice but to run across bare dirt where any dog can catch you easily. I go for it without another second’s hesitation.

That’s when I hear the dogs and their realization of my presence. But when they reach me, I’m already out of their reach and almost over the fence, laughing at their futility. I stop and gaze at them momentarily, a smile imprinted on my face as I analyze the way their mouths ooze ferocity and saliva, snapping them open and closed with incessant barking. I grow bored and continue to the park.

I reach the sprawling green landscape at last, and my friends are already there. They’ve made camp so to speak on a bench near the far edge of the park, where no one hangs out at all. I make my way over there casually and make head nod-type gestures at everyone as I approach. When I come to a stop, I rest my hands in the soft pocket in the front of my light jacket.

“It’s about time,” my friend Sam announces.

I shrug in a very bored manner. That’s the way I act around my friends; calm, cool, collected. In control. If only.

Jessica pulls a small white box out of her pocket, and I only catch a glimpse of the red label before she stuffs it back into her bag. But not before she pulls out a few sticks. I know them too well; cigarettes laced with hard marijuana. Of course, I take my fair share of hits before the day draws to a close.

The walk home begins as I leave the park and put my headphones in my ears to drown out the sounds of the everyday. It’s so average around me . . . I want to hear a difference in the mainstream. The music is playing so loudly in my ears, I’m about one volume click away from reaching painful flinching status. But I really don’t care.

It begins to rain as I step inside a corner store to pick up a quick snack. Fear for my MP3 player makes me stuff it and the headphones into my pocket swiftly before walking back outside. I don’t live very far, actually. Maybe a ten minute walk from where I stand.

But I’m soaking wet when I reach my house and get inside. I stop in the bathroom to take off some of my clothes and let them dry over the towel rack. I take off my jacket and shirt and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I stop to admire my reflection, not for vanity purposes, but because of the curiousness of what I see and the allure of observing the changes in myself.

I’m staring at myself for a long time. Pale white skin. Long, black hair that twirls and twists with the moisture bogging it down. Mascara and eyeliner running down my cheeks in a swift pattern. My body below my neck is bare except for my lime green bra. I lean against the counter, still staring at myself, with my wrists outstretched toward the mirror. I can see the little red lines of my coveted blade perfectly in the reflection.

I look away from them and stare into my own eyes, hazel, clouded, and bloodshot. The sight of this in it itself forces me to think about myself in a new light. Who am I? Who did I used to be? My hands are shaking at this point, and I’m still staring at myself as I mutter under my breath, “I think I lost myself a little too much . . .”

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