personal essay by Anonymous
You’re driving into New York City, with the “first wild promise of all the mystery and
the beauty in the world”, under the brightest fluorescent lights, and you will watch
your Great neighbor sort out his dreams as they happen and fade in front of him.
You’re given a peaceful, bleak existence. Simple times that you’d want to look back on
with tranquil nostalgia. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that
all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” Your father
gives you good advice, so you’ll think back about your younger years, your friends,
loves, joys and sufferings. You’ll be Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, you’ll go
back home when you’re thirty and that path your father built and set out for you will
still be there for you to put the puzzle back together of your own shattered life.
Or instead, you’ll be yourself, age 16, in a suburb of Pittsburgh. You’re given
existence and your goal as a human is to find out if it’s bleak, peaceful, or just
existence. I think it may be bleak. The thought of my father looms throughout my head like Nick’s, except in different ways. Nick tries to change in his new home in that new city, but he never does, instead he just goes home to Dad. I can’t go home, but I need to change. I need to let the bad times roll.
Peaceful? My childhood was the opposite, where all the disadvantages I had took
form. Instead of the gift of discovering the warmth of a good home, it was taken from
me. Childhood simplicity was stripped from my young mind by my own father. At four
years old my little spirit was crushed, my mind broken. Being abused imprinted scars I
cannot lose. My sister, blind from birth, forehead bloody from an accident, crying from shock and pain. Four -year- old me tried to bring her peace. His aged hands slapped across my shocked face, then screaming and yelling, next fleeing upstairs. This was life for a year, pain and suffering. Next, two more years of the same, but he kicked us out. The start of unofficial solitary confinement from people, the start of my loneliness.
On the last day, I’m seven, one more red handprint bruised into my face. Why
dwell on that past, stuck in an old wood house with a neon green door right against
four lanes of harried honking commuter traffic and trucks on Route 65 and the rattles of trains down the cliffside below, alongside the murky rust-colored Ohio River. I want to live in the now.
Bleak. It’s human nature, when you try to grow while seeing the horrors of what
a human could produce and the type of fear they can distill into you. It makes you truly wonder whether or not we have souls. Next are your teenage years. I wanted to feel like myself in these years, but my self-esteem drained out of me. I hoped for getting into freshman year, imagining friends and parties but it was just a big fat fucking lie. Everyone would get along in a big open wooded area – a paintball field by day – mindlessly dancing, the night sky looking down upon the crowd, the luminescence of the fire sitting above the crowd, dull and dim, as the air weighs heavy on my chest, almost as if someone was holding their hands on me. Your parties are a little like Nick’s neighbor’s parties out in the Eggs, crowded and lively, yet why are you so distraught here in this field? You’re going to be pursued, pursuing, busy, or tired, right? The confinement of being a social obscurity rattles my hope. A complete nomad, nobody knows you, nobody wants to know you, you’re just simply existing.
Anger, fear, sadness: they wear on me constantly. Like standing in a room
packed with people, yet only being comfortable with myself. Like being stuck in that
inescapable New York City apartment, looking out of the window and seeing yourself
outside, imagining crisp cool night air filling your lungs, as a breath mint would,
cooling down your body, the moon looking down onto you the same as it would at that paintball field. The constant contrast of not recognizing anyone, yet being surrounded by people I know. Speaking with them I sensed belonging, but with distance. I spoke to the fake masks they put on. It’s clear as day, but why haven’t I noticed it until now? I never decided to point out our lies; mainly I was drawn to it, drawn to the inescapable lifestyle of being popular or being liked or being known as popular and liked. Even if it was subconscious, just to be with another person and live, it was fascinating. Life Itself was offering Life beautiful and cavernous, a darkness of looming weight on my chest, constricting my breath, the essence of cold hovering above my head, constantly watching, making any room, no matter the vibrance, completely dark, sending chills throughout bone and marrow and flesh, killing my soul. That is the feeling of loneliness.
Except, in fleeting moments, in that old wood house, in my dark room, in a rare
escape, the brightest beam of sunlight popped through the only place it could, the big square sliding window leading out to the flat roof. Illuminating my room, keeping me content, glowing brightly, like evening moonlight, an ethereal angelic friend through light, ecstatic with this unexpected visit for a brief second, until harsh reality sets back in. Fear interrupted and forced out contentment. I still remember our departure vividly, a confused look wearing my mother’s face, as we walked past the old wooden staircase, past cracked glass from beer bottles. Ages five and six, freedom began.
Eight years later, my mind twists: what is stopping this person I just started
being friends with, two or three years ago, from abandoning me just like he did. Time
is twisted. It was chosen for me, chosen to be bleak and full of hatred, dark and
depressing, all good memories completely wiped with horror, even if my green front
door shined brighter than the sun. That man inside that house was a walking current
of violence and abuse, put in him by the fists of his father, sent out into me. An empty
wrinkly body, created to take the form of evil, inescapable and destructive, a living
nightmare. If I am a son of my father – if that means anything at all – it’s that I don’t
want to be another person like him, so to let it tear at my spirit is pitiful. Around me
now, my friends have their own versions of Nick’s father. Advantages. Jealousy burns in me.
You were given existence and your goal is to find out if it’s bleak, peaceful, or
just existence. Will you be like your future Great neighbor, standing under moonlight,
waiting for nothing? Leave Nick to those with the advantages. Choose Andy, getting
ready for a new life, talking to his neighbor Rich, in the yard, inside a prison in
Maine. Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying.