When I was 22, just four months after I graduated from college, something happened that I will never get answers to and never get away from. I’m fairly certain I can place a lot of the blame on myself for what happened that night. I was out with some friends in Portland; I was in a bad mood and looking to get reckless.
And I was reckless; acting like an asshole and working very hard to get myself shit-faced. Because of my bad attitude, my friends were not very upset when I decided to leave their company to go off with a group of guys we had never seen before. I don’t remember leaving them, or really much after my third drink that night. Can I blame my friends for letting me go? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so.
There’s a good chance I was drugged, I won’t ever know for certain. Maybe I just drank too much too fast. I came out of my blackout around 3 am in a back alley behind the Old Port Holiday Inn, in a ditch next to an electrical transistor – I wasn’t alone. I remember seeing a group of about four guys walking away from me and I remember screaming. I had no phone and no shoes; but thankfully everything else appeared to still be intact. There were sharp rocks lining the ground of the ditch; too painful to climb out of with bare feet. I was stuck.
One of the walls of the ditch was made up of the basement entrance to the hotel, with a door that led from inside. It was one of those service doors that does not have handles on the outside. I banged on that door for what must have been an hour, screaming at the top of my lungs, hoping someone would hear me and let me in. No one came. Finally, I gave up and sunk down crying next to the building.
Looking up, the transistor must have been about eight feet high, but it seemed my only way out. Somehow I managed to climb on top of it, jump to the retaining wall a few feet away and climb out to the street. I was so out of it; woozy and impaired, I should have fallen and broken my neck. I didn’t.
I wandered the streets of Portland until sunrise, finally seeking solace inside the Holiday Inn. I tried to get a room, the hotel was booked- or so they said. I can’t blame them for denying me. I looked like shit. No shoes, a filthy party dress that had been God-knows-where, red eyes and tears down my face. I looked like a vagrant and if I had worked at the front desk of the hotel, I wouldn’t have allowed me to get a room either.
So I resorted again to wandering. I found a washroom and curled up in a corner, desperate for a few minutes of sleep. I had no phone or way of getting in touch with my friends, since no one memorizes phone numbers anymore. After about an hour of agonizing on the washroom tile, it occurred to me that I could use a computer at the hotel. I managed to get on Facebook and contact my friends at roughly 7 am. My former roommate, who I had been out with that night, answered my call groggily; clearly half asleep and a bit angry over whatever I had said and done the night before. She would come pick me up when she woke up.
At 10:30 am she arrived at the hotel. I had been waiting in the lobby since I called her, shoeless and surely a frightening sight to the paying hotel guests. I apologized and thanked her for picking me up; then we sat in silence for the entire three and a half hour ride home. Our usual banter never quite went back to normal after that event. Less than six months later I found our friendship, along with many other things that I had once thought to be fixtures in my life, crumbling around me. Everything had changed.
I was 22-years-old. The person I was before that night in Portland and the person I have become since are so vastly different that it’s shocking even to me. The only people that still consider me to be the same as I once was are those who see so little of me that they would never know any better.
Most days, I want to be alone. So alone that I don’t want to even hear my roommates footsteps as they walk around the apartment. With a diminished desire to head out with the crowds of other 22-year-olds, I dove headfirst into my work. I began putting everything I had into developing my craft. Focusing on telling stories in all sorts of mediums, trying hard to entertain whoever would listen, watch or read. Funnily enough, I mostly focus on comedy. It’s true what they say; the jester is always the saddest person in the room.
Now, I’m about to turn 25 and I’m feeling as if I have wasted all my time. I’ve missed out on a lot socially, at the expense of putting my work first. I am constantly thinking that I need to play social catch up with my peers, though maybe not as thoughtlessly as I once would have. While I have begun to see some moderate success with my work, I am constantly nagged by the sense that I am chasing the pack. I struggle with an overwhelming feeling of being pressured and beaten by stories of other successful 20-somethings who had ‘made it’ by the time that I was just deciding to wholeheartedly pursue my dreams. I am paranoid that there is a success deadline looming somewhere around thirty.
The confidence that once ran deeply through my being, fueled by a strong social support system, has now been reduced to a mask that I only wear while I am out in public. Even then, sometimes the mask falters. I almost never feel like myself anymore.
I’d like to point out that my life is not inherently bad, especially when speaking materialistically. I have nice things. I live in a good apartment. I have enough money. Why am I complaining?
I used to say when I was younger that I had a feeling that I wouldn’t make it past twenty-five. Mostly because I always felt that my own recklessness would cause me to go out in something like fatal car wreck. Well, 25 is quickly approaching. My body is still here, but on most days I feel empty. I think I was right. I didn’t make it past 25 and it was all because of my own recklessness.
Oh well, back to work.