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When did everything get so completely screwed up? I remember being eight and nothing bad ever happened. I remember eating hot dogs with way too much ketchup, and riding bikes around the block, and falling asleep before eight o'clock because I had been out playing all day. Where did we all go wrong?
I guess people just change. When you grow up, you change. And ninety percent of the time, it's not for the better. See I used to smile at the clouds, and jump in puddles, and watch the leaves fall. I used to be so sweet, and endearing, and lovely in every possible way a person can be lovely. And what did I become? I became anxiety. With a side of Tumblr, sleep, and hissing at sunlight.
It's all screwed up now I guess. And sometimes I wonder if that's a good thing, y'know? I guess when you screw things up, you become the person that knows. You learn, right? You learn everything you did wrong, and how not to do it again. Then again, I think screwing things up is scary. I think it hides people. I think it envelops them in a safety blanket, like one of those really fuzzy blankets that feel like your own permanent insulation that you never want to leave. You never want to leave that place of safety in that blanket because you feel like as long as you have the warmth of the blanket then the monsters stay in the closet, right? Wrong.
The blanket is the wall. The blanket is the monster from the closet that manipulates you into thinking it’s okay to stay wrapped up warm. But that warmth is a mere illusion. That warmth is freezing. That warmth is hiding. That warmth is depression. And that warmth is anxiety. And that warmth is scary.
But I'm wrapped neatly in my blanket, and content not to come out. And we can thank no one but myself for that. Because I was the one who f*ed it up - Me. It's not even like it’s not my fault that I'm in the blanket, because it is. I ran right into that god dammed blanket.
See it was a few years back when it all started. Children, laughing together in the dirt of the backyard. He was my best friend. We did everything together. He lived next door to me, and would come over everyday after school to watch Pokémon and eat pb and j. It was like our ritual. For years, everyday he would come over and watch Pokémon. Just watch.
In the Summer we'd stay up really late in one of our backyard's, and build this little fort with tall sticks from the woods around the block, and old tattered sheets from my attic. We would lie under the fort with our flashlights and tell stories about super heroes saving civilians from vats of sulfuric acid or the princess in the tower of the enchantress.
We were the best of friends, we grew up and loved each other. We grew up and snuck out to go to the beach at midnight. We grew up and loved each other. We grew up and danced to old music on the record player. We grew up and loved each other more than anything in the world.
We grew up, and a few weeks later his mother died.
He needed me, and I needed myself, and I needed to go back in time and stop the car accident, and I needed to be strong, and okay, for him, and I couldn't. I just couldn't do it. And that was where we went down hill.
I wasn't strong enough for myself, and that meant I couldn't be strong enough for him. We were just a pair of grown up children with broken pieces of glass permanently embedded into our wrists. We were just grown up children with nowhere to go.
Our families were no help. His father killed himself, and both my parents seemed to ignore both me and him, which was totally screwed up by the way. I mean after all, we were just lost in the maze, without the slightest idea as to what direction we were going in. It's not like we knew where it would lead.
He lost his house. So I let him stay in our loft. Which honestly, I don't even think my parents knew, or cared about. He stayed there and would just lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for hours. Sometimes I'd stare with him. But what else could I do? He just lost his family, his house, and slowly he was losing himself.
I think I knew, in a way. I think I knew that nothing was ever going to be okay. After all we stared at a blank white ceiling for hours on end, on a daily basis. Eventually there was nothing we could do. He just gave up. He just let the light fade in his soul of souls and after a while decided that he was okay with that. After all, I was all he had, and evidently, that wasn't enough. I couldn't do it. I couldn't just be there for him. I was always there, yet I still couldn't just "be there." It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough for anyone, and it wasn't enough for him.
I remember how it felt. To walk into his room, in what used to be my loft, and see him lying on the floor screaming bloody murder with salty drops of depression drying on his face and wrists of red staining the floor with hate. I remember how he would writhe in fear of fear and in sadness and hurt. It was a long sad road for him. A long sad road he spent wrapped in a blanket. A blanket I didn't know existed. A blanket I didn't know could be so serene.
Y'know his favorite food was Chef Boyardee ravioli. He loved the mess it made. He always said it was messy. Messy like life. The imperfections, and the flaws of life, and the way they meshed and entangled, a messy kind of beautiful. That’s what he used to say about Chef Boyardee.
He was constantly eating that stupid canned pasta. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack, you name it. Always eating that damn canned ravioli. Ravioli and Pepsi. That was just his thing, I guess. I'd tell him that I could make him ravioli. Real ravioli made from scratch with real food inside it. But no, no of course not. Chef Boyardee, was, according to him, like canning the sacrifice of love. Which is some pretty deep crap to be saying about Chef Boyardee.
One night, this was when we were very young, before it all was screwed up, there was a blizzard. During this blizzard, the power went out, and the microwave, and the stove wouldn't work, so he had no way to eat his Chef Boyardee. And I jumped up and down, giggling at the fact that he was so upset he couldn't have Chef Boyardee ravioli for dinner that night. Then damned, if all of a sudden, he didn't run into the kitchen, open a can of Chef Boyardee, and eat it straight cold out of the can. He cut his mouth on the lid and we laughed until we cried. There he sat eating his bloodied Chef Boyardee without even second guessing himself.
He was remarkable. And a freakin' piece of work. Yet I couldn't be there. I couldn't save him. The blanket wouldn't budge, and I couldn't just rip it away like I thought. I did not know very much about this blanket as you can see; that was the whole damn problem.
One night he came home from the record store, soaked and covered in rain water, and stared at me as I lay on my bed reading The Great Gatsby. He just stared and stared, and finally he spoke. "You know I love you, right? Because I do. I always have. I always will. You know that, right? You know that you are the single best person I have ever met, and I hope you know that you're beautiful, and I love you. And I think you need to be told that because I have this feeling that you don't realize that you're so full of this wonderful luminous glow of marvel and sunshine and everything right in the world. I love you. You're my best friend, and you’re lips taste like strawberries, and you always smell like honeysuckle, and I love you more than anything in the universe. You know I love you, right?"
I nodded, and looked at him, dripping droplets onto the floor of my bedroom, "I love you too, y'know."
He smiled, with a glint of lost hope in his eyes. Sadly, so very sadly, he smiled and walked over to sit on my bed, taking my book away from me, folding its corner down to mark my page, and placing it on the night stand.
"Do you remember that day in the sixth grade, and you were so upset that I was going to Stephen's house on Saturday to play Xbox instead of being with you, that you wrote that poem about being lonely and sad, and waking up lost in the meadow? Do you remember how it went? I remember this one line, that from the second I read it, I knew you were going to do great things. You said, 'The loneliness of that meadow grew and grew, the way all children do, in a rush and without consent, and away the dreamers dreams went.'"
I laughed, a quiet chuckle that rang with nostalgic silence. "Yes. I remember." I whispered, and then continued. "Will you tell me something?"
He nodded, "Anything." He whispered.
"What happened to us? We're too young to be this sad. It's like we feed on broken feelings and the memories of a past we can never get back. We were so lovely. What happened to us? Everyone left us. It's like they were here one day, and now they are gone. It's bitter and pathetic. Bitter and pathetic the way we were abandoned. Some unwillingly. And some, who knew exactly what they were doing. Will you make me a promise? Please." I said looking up at him, wide eyes, and frightened for him, knowing he was frightened for me.
He nodded once more, "Anything."
"Stay." I whispered, emitting shattered hope and reeking with fear of the sickness of loneliness.
And he wrapped his arms around me, still soaking wet, and neither of us caring. Staying. Just staying, together. I wish it had have lasted.
It was one of those things, I guess. And by "one of those things" I mean a promise that you keep for a while and then it's sort of like you never even made that promise. I remember that day exactly as it went. I woke up that morning to sunlight in my eyes. A bright sunny morning in early July. Half-asleep I managed my way out of bed, brushed my teeth, showered, got dressed, and walked down to the kitchen for breakfast. He was already down there, eating Chef Boyardee. I went to the fridge, taking about strawberries, milk, vanilla yogurt, grabbing the bananas off the counter, and taking the ice out of the freezer. I threw it all in a blender, and made a morning smoothie for the both of us. I handed him his after pouring it into a cup and he just smiled at me, sipping it.
He put his cup down, reached over to me, pulled me into a hug and kissed me - just barely. "I love you." He whispered, and as I went to whisper back he spoke again. "And you love me too." He said even softer. Kissing my forehead, he looked into my eyes, smiled with them, backed away, grabbing his smoothie, and walked out the door.
The rest of the day I spent living the mundane: going to the dry cleaners, grocery shopping, and picking up tampons at Target. It was mindless, useless everyday crap, and because of him I remember it all.
I went home, put the food in the pantry, and my clothes in the closet. Done with my daily errands and with a lack of things to do, I decided to go up stairs to the loft to see him.
I hopped on the couch next to him and shouted, “Get up, lazy!” but naturally he didn’t budge. When he slept he was in a coma of sorts. So I shouted more and then a slow, silver, sliver of recognition began to penetrate that ridiculous prism of light that he always said I live in. He did not move; instead he lay pale, and lifeless; he just lay there. It took five minutes of screaming at him for me to wake up, and shaking him frantically only to find the bottle of pills on the ground. Empty! The whole bottle. Beside it was a fricken liter of Pepsi. That was empty too. It was like he had drunk the entire Atlantic ocean to make sure he would not miss one goddamn pill, and the beauty of its effects. He f*in' killed himself. He fin' killed himself because I f*ed up. I wasn't strong enough for him, or for me, or for both of us. I couldn't get him to stop. It's my fault. It’s my fault he's dead because I wasn't enough for him to want to keep breathing. I couldn't get him to smell and taste the wonderful freaking simplicity of life. I couldn't get him to grow old, and get married, and get the hell out of this place. I wasn't enough for him to wait, and have kids who watched Pokémon , and made forts in the backyard, and ate Chef Boyardee on a daily basis. I wasn't enough for him to stay. He promised me. He promised me he'd stay. But he didn't.
I screamed. Out of spite, fear, hatred, or love, I'm not sure. But I screamed, and screamed and screamed, and kicked, and cried, and hurt until the floor surrounding me was soaked completely and drenched in the 'spit' of fury.
I screamed, and I kicked and chucked the empty pill bottle at the wall. I watched it bang off the glass picture frame, breaking it. The Pepsi bottle was next, but I didn’t end up throwing it. There was paper inside. Paper he knew I’d find.
I didn't want to open it. I didn't want to read what was there. I didn't want to read the ink stained page of last words, full of sadness and fright. Full of his last thoughts, his last wishes, his last anything for anyone to ever read or know. I didn't want to read what he wrote in his elegant cursive penmanship. I didn't want to read his suicide note. But I did.
I know what you're thinking. It's nothing you have done. And what is done is done, and I hope you never understand why I have done what I have done. Because if you understand, then you will follow. But I want you to realize that I just cannot “be” anymore. There is no reason to exist. I have lost all will, and all hope, and I am dead on the inside, so what is the point of being alive on the outside?
We used to be so lovely. We were such innocents skipping through life barefoot, like hopscotch on the heated summer pavement. I've loved you from the day I moved in next door, Eliza. The day you ran over to us, unloading the moving truck, and asked me if I wanted some of the chocolate chip cookies you had just made, and proceeded to help me bring my boxes of toy trucks into the house. You were extraordinary.
You were the ray of sunshine in the light of everyone's eyes. I don't know a sensible soul to grace the planet who could not see the evident beauty of the glory that was you, and your imperfections. It is apparent my dear Eliza, that you are still unable to comprehend the marvel which you are. You are so darling, endearing, complicated, and simple. And through all of this, you are the most beautiful creature to ever grace the galaxy with your presence.
A very wise man, by the name of River Phoenix, once said "In simplicity, there is truth." Now, I have considered this, over, and over again, debating it's truth. I have come to comprehend his subtle statement. At first read, it is hard to understand. You think, how is there truth in simplicity? And contemplate how this could be so. For example, to breathe is simple, but often not true. To breathe is to live, and to live is not true. So how is there truth in simplicity? There is truth in simplicity, because of the truth in his statement. Such a simple statement, "In simplicity, there is truth." It is true, because it is simple. Like I said, wise man that River Phoenix.
With such stated, I would like you to know that I am not true. I am not simple, therefore I am not true. What does that make me? Does that make me a lie? If so, I surely do not wish to continue lying to the world. I surely do not wish to continue lying to you.
When we would stare at the ceiling, I would worry. I would worry about you, and how worried you must have been for me if you were willing to waste the time you could be using to do something of importance with me, just staring at a ceiling. I would worry about the things I was doing to you. I was ruining you. I was breaking you. I was deteriorating the lovely white color you emanated into the world, and morphing you into a cloudy color, black, like soot. Each time we talked , I could only see dark crevices of depression, and you saw rays and light and the sunshine of tomorrows. I would contemplate my existence. And the idea of existence in general. Existence, I have come to conclude, is for those with potential to exist. Those who have the potential to live, and to do something petty, and marvelous. Those who can do something complicatingly simple. Those who can live in beauty, and in truth, and in the light of tomorrow.
I think about that poem you wrote, about how life is viewed by different people. How sometimes you can look up at the sky and it will be blue and fluffy clouds everywhere, or you can look up and see lightning. Well, when I stare up at the endless sky, I don't see lightning, and I don't see blue. I see nothing. I see the empty void which we call oblivion, and it just calls my name. See a mass of contradictions secret whispers and screams- anything but the beautiful simplicity that you are. It is the screaming of the silence that I hear so loudly, as oblivion, endlessly, whispers for me to join.
Please, my Eliza. Please do not ever feel as I feel now. Please do not let your white become black. I have left you to save you. By saving myself, by jumping into the darkness, I am saving your light. I will not allow my black box ruin your white speckled prism. Please continue to look up at the fluffy clouds, and see the butterflies grace, and the birds dance along to the melodious hum of their own sweet music. Please look up, and see blue. See the sun in the sky, and feel the warm rays as they caress you with care and perk up the daisies posture in just the slightest way.
I know you're going to want to come after me my love. I know you, too well for your own good. And I know that's what you want to do. I also know that while this is what you wish, you would not put your own wishes above mine, let alone my dying wish. I know this because if the positions were to be reversed, I would put your desires before my own, always. I know you want to follow me into death. But you can't. I know I broke my promise, but you can't break yours. Stay. Please. Life is all I wish for you. A happy life, full of simple experiences. You are not permitted to die until you have done all of the following.
1. Made love in a park in Vienna.
2. Launched floating lanterns into the sky
3. Learned to swing dance
4. Published a book of poems
5. Inspired the world
6. Inspired yourself
7. Lost your way, and found it again
8. Viewed the Northern lights
9. Heard someone else's story
10. Started a flash mob in Times Square
11. Successfully streaked through Paris
12. Kept a journal of 1000 different pressed leaves and flowers
13. Started a real protest
14. Created an Association for Secret Lovers
15. Stayed up and watched a meteor shower
16. Gotten into a Hollywood after party
17. Fallen in love once more
Once you finish. Fine. Come to get me. But not until then. Ironic, and clever, how I make my dying wish for you to live. You always said you loved my cleverness. Please do not worry, I'm not going anywhere, there is no need to rush. I love you, my Eliza. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
Even though he said it wasn't me, I think we all know it was. And here I am today. One year later, staring at the wall, sleeping too much, blogging too much, and working on an almost complete book of poems to be published. I'm broken. And screwed up. And in a blanket of anxiety and depression. Finding myself without one prism of light anywhere in my dismal existence. But I guess, on the other hand, my one way flight to Vienna leaves in three days. I know your wishes, and the sooner they are fulfilled, the sooner mine shall be.
Darling, I guess I'm starting now, because I'm so very ready to join you.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
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All of us fave failed to match our dream of perfection. I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible. -William Faulkner