Sunday, September 20, 2009

Status

Laurie and I would talk about who was crazy and who was insane, crazy was good but insane was even better. One night Laurie saw the world in blocks, she was surrounded by blocks, Robitussin I was not going to try that high I remembered that taste too well from childhood. When we were on mushrooms, I got scared because Laurie was on a different level of reality, closer to the world maybe I wanted her to come back to this level but she kept changing her sweatshirt, you keep on changing I will not know who you are -- I called myself to leave a message, a message for me. Are you there? Wait, there’s no one on the phone. Laurie left a note: death is room temperature.

Maybe that was it -- we were finally finding a place where we could be dramatic and then talk about it: I talked about the way my body was broken shards, I was ruining my life to beat my parents on their own terms, I’d come to Brown to look for activism and instead there was so much apathy, why were people so apathetic? And scheming -- everyone was scheming, like there was some high-stakes game to find it, find it now, it was me, us, have you tried this yet? Try it. But I’m not getting this quite right. Everything in my life had been leading up to this point. I grew up believing that I was evil, that if anyone ever saw my true self they would know, they would know that I was a monster that deserved to die, and I didn’t want to die, except when I wanted to die, but I didn’t want to know that and so I knew that I always had to hide everything. I had to hide everything so they wouldn’t know, I wanted them to think I was perfect.

They were my parents, kids at school, teachers, my grandparents, everyone. I didn’t want them to know. I wanted them to know that I was perfect. So I grew up in a family where I was supposed to be perfect, I was supposed to be perfect and to believe that I deserved to die, and one way this worked out for them was that I did very well in school, I always did well in school, and since I always did well in school it was always assumed that I would go to a good college, I mean it was assumed for everyone in my school that we would go to college, but some of us would go to college, and some of us would excel, and I was one of the kids who everyone believed would always excel.

This was childhood: I deserved to die, and I would always excel. I needed to do better, better than my father, my father who taught me I deserved to die -- he went to a respected liberal arts college, medical school, became a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist -- I had to go to a more prestigious school, become more successful, buy a bigger house, make more money, this was the only chance I had, the only chance not to die, except then I started to realize that this was death, and since I didn’t want to die then I didn’t want this either, any of it. That’s when I knew I was trapped.

In high school, I hated my parents with a passion, it was pretty much the only thing I had to say about them, and this was helpful. I didn’t know how to get out of their trap, but still this was helpful. When I made friends, friends to sustain me, Erik and Keidy and Ellen, this was one of the things we bonded about -- we hated our parents, and we were trapped, doomed, doomed to keep going in this direction they’d chosen for us we didn’t know what else to do except talk about it, talk about how much we hated them and what they represented. The difference between us, or one of the differences, was that I would say it, I would say it right to my parents’ face and I would encourage them to do the same, you don’t have to do what your parents want, my trump card was that I knew I was doing what my parents really wanted, the bottom line, going to a college that would make them proud, and so really it didn’t matter what else I did, I mean it mattered and we fought, fought about every detail but especially about money, money for a taxi or books or music or dancing or whatever, we fought about money but really we were fighting about control. And the bottom line, the bottom line was that they had control, even if they didn’t have control, I mean they didn’t have control over where I went or how late I stayed out but on that deeper level, that deeper level of dreams, still I thought that the only way to get away was to go to that school, that school that would make them proud.

In high school, my friends’ parents didn’t really like me, they wouldn’t necessarily say that but they knew what I told their kids: don’t worry, don’t worry about what they think. I wanted all of us to get away, to get away from their influence. Their parents didn’t like me because they were worried about my influence and that was a good sign.

So when I got away, but not really away, some things were immediately easier. Like, I could be vegetarian, just like that it was a snap it was easy -- even though, beforehand I’d been brainwashed into thinking I would die, I would die if I didn’t eat meat. Since I wasn’t really eating, in a way maybe that was true, but that’s not what they meant. And I was queer, queer already although I don’t mean to suggest that it wasn’t hard to say it, just that now everyone knew like they had always known but knowing this didn’t mean I deserved to die.

But here’s the thing I wasn’t really conveying, I mean I think I knew what I meant already, or what I could mean, the thing that was different is that I didn’t know that other people could see it, other people I didn’t know. That’s what changed when I got away, away but not away, it was like right away nothing and everything was different and I was finding people in a way that before didn’t seem possible in my everyday life, by the end of high school my only close friend who actually went to my high school was Erik, Erik who was the devil’s advocate conservative but then we bonded when we realized we hated our parents and we liked to drink, of course we were both fags too, and that was part of it, and unspoken romance, or unspoken between us except most people knew, knew the way they knew we were fags.

The whole year I spent at Brown, I didn’t sleep with anyone -- this was the thing about status, I knew I was a fetish item for the older students to trade, so I couldn’t figure out when people were attracted to me, whether they were attracted only to this status. And the thing that hadn’t changed was that I couldn’t approach the guys who turned me on, in that realm I still would go to that place where I felt like if I said anything I might die, sometimes I still go there.

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