Several months ago, i told a stranger of my continued loss of affection for New York̬how i couldn’t wait to leave. Except, i’d probably have to stay—it would be the smart thing to do, financially and professionally—for a few more years, at least.
I’ll admit, she wasn’t really a stranger, actually, but might as well have been since we only knew each other from a class the previous semester, having bartered only some sentences over those months. We chit-chatted about that semester’s finals, impending graduations and some past and future remnants and prospects.
The import of our limited history was that i discovered strangers are sometimes the most in-tune to cracks in facades, are scrutinizing foreigners most adept at seeing the faults in perfectly fantasized cities.
It was her rhetorically asking, “Are you depressed?” that struck me. I’d just finished imparting my educational history, its prospects and its intertwined relationship with work, and how i manage an on-going intense tryst with partying—with drinking.
She mentioned my calm, tranquil demeanor: she was amazed how unfazed i was by finals week, papers and exams or the prospect of classes for Fall and not knowing my schedule yet. I don’t get frazzled. I don’t freak out. Or, very seldom, at least. I do get vexed, perplexed and agitated, though. If you know me, i’m sure you know the latter phases.
The problems are there, waiting patiently, eagerly to overcome me. It’d be unfortunate to think i’ve no problems or that all is fine and dandy all the time; it’s happened several times over the years. Truly, masks are a wondrous construction.
I don’t want anyone to think i don’t stress, because I sure as hell do. The issue is i allow—heck, actively encourage, even—myself to take on too much so i can, in a weird skewing of what would make “sense,” feel stress.
I look for some type of trepidation, some sort of unrest to bring some vigor into my life—to feel something. A lot comes easy for me, especially when it comes to mental endevours. Piling all on top of me to that end, for that vigor, has to be the explanation. It’s the one i’ve recently uncovered (created?) and have embraced like an orphan left on the proverbial Church doorstep. It’ll be what i coddle until old enough to tell it the truth—that it was just there, it was convenient, i had to raise it till it could walk away on its own, and i would learn of my true child of stress, where it came from. I just have to grab that shovel and dig deeper.
Placeholders come and go throughout everyone’s lives, and i believe that this reasoning for why i am the way i am, is just that—something ephemeral to hold up the pillars a la Samson, but just without the cutting of hair, tragedy is not the goal.
Working through the fog, wading through the murky waters of the mind—of emotions and one’s past, one’s upbringing—must be done, especially when things aren’t pristine, aren’t white picket fence with a dog and nuclear family. Here’s to blurting out gibberish through a bullhorn, writing on public billboards, shouting from the rooftops, just all out working out life via words on screen.
Strangers can be the most familiar i’ve learned. They have an ear and an eye, a shoulder and an hunched back—tools and signs of progress and past. One day i’ll tell my kids of how i told a stranger intimate thoughts and ideas, a sounding board, sorta like practice. Cheers to them being open to listening.