I used to take the Pacific Surfliner up and down the coast when I was younger. From Ventura to San Diego. From San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. Sometimes to Santa Barbara.
I would sit in these trains when I was 16, 17, 19, and even 21 and I would think about everything bad that’s ever happened to me and everyone I’ve loved. Melancholia, melancholia. melancholia. Say it three times in the mirror and see what happens to ya.
I’d barely remember the cities that passed through the window and my eyes would start to feel heavy so I’d start to close them and it would be like that for hours, just existing in this fugue-like state and you know what? I’d like it. I’d like it when I couldn’t open my eyes because that means I couldn’t see anything that would disappoint me. I was so tired of being disappointed all the time.
It’s a crutch. That’s what it is. You become addicted to these feelings of vague sadness and then you just surround yourself with them, convinced that this is better than feeling nothing.
People need to pay attention to what’s going on around them. If they did, then maybe they’d understand why I feel the way I do.
There was so much I had to learn. Like: You don’t have to be so sad all the time. It’s not going to lift your limbs up or make you more interesting. It’s not going to do anything besides turn you into a miserable bag of bones.
And: If you go through this life being perpetually disappointed in mankind, you only end up disappointing yourself. Because hating everyone only leads to hating yourself. Etc. etc. etc.
Oops. Didn’t know these things then. Wish I did. Or maybe not. See, let me tell you a little secret that will make the nerves in your back constrict and the hairs on your neck stand up: I enjoyed being a mess. It gave me quite a thrill. I was interested in tricking people into thinking that I was normal, that I was just like them, that I would never be the kind of person to sit on a train by himself and be half-asleep for hours and hours.
Honestly, I don’t know how exactly you think a person should be but I promise you that whatever it is I will never be it. Instead, I promise to always surprise you, to delight you, to disappoint you until I’m dead.
I am always getting better. I am always getting worse. Sometimes both in the span of five minutes. And I’m not going to bother explaining the who’s and the what’s and the why’s of it. Explaining everything all the time is what turned me into such a raw nerve in the first place. Trying to be perfect is what led me to develop so many imperfections.
I don’t know much about life but I do know that it’s complicated and nuanced and full of layers and hard explanations and grey areas. You can’t compartmentalize things anymore. Everything bleeds over. Realizing all of this was hard at first but then it turned out to be liberating. Surrendering yourself to the hard parts will ultimately make everything easier for you.
My narrative isn’t a clean one. And neither is yours. Thank God. Thank god for messy, beautiful, fucked up, exciting, happy, sad, and complex lives. Now let’s all finally stop pretending that any other kind exists.