I’ve stripped the blankets off my bed and I’ve stripped the clothes off my back. I’ve opened the window to let the cool air in, but I can’t seem to find music that sounds sad enough and I still feel like there’s a layer of heat stuck between me and the air in my room. I was feeling fine earlier. I was as good as I expected to be and there was no reason to expect anything but the best. I’m trying to figure out what the difference is. What crawled across my flesh and into my head and made me feel like hope is hopeless and brought these tears to my eyes only to tell me that crying won’t solve anything? What sight or sound or memory flitted across my perception and showered me with this sense that something is dreadfully wrong; that there is no direction to run in that will not take me into the arms of the very thing I was running away from?

I want to believe that this feeling is new and sudden. I want to pretend that there aren’t tears on my pillow every night when I go to sleep. I want to find the right CD; I’ve changed it three times since I started and I’m not hearing sad enough. I want to hear the music of someone who has understood what I am basking in right now, to know I am not unique. Despite every step I take being towards becoming less of an enigma for the casual observer, I still feel the need for reassurance that I am heading in the right direction.

We are all individuals. I used to work so hard to make people believe that that was true about me, too. To make people notice me. I’ve been working towards the contrary for a couple of years now; working on stripping away the layers and layers of masks and disguises and stories about nothing at all that I used to hide myself from view and bring myself into the limelight. I’ve been working towards more fully realizing who I am as an individual and forgetting who I was as a freak. I’m more and more in touch with my own pure desire all the time, and I’m beginning to be able to really let go of everything I used to depend on for support – I don’t need to see someone else having a good time to accept my own enjoyment, for instance.

The people who used to be my friends often do not have any idea who I am. So many of them have an idea of who I was pretending to be when I met them, oh so long ago, and are unable to look past that memory of me to the reality that I am trying to present them with now. It has been my habit over the years to just remember what stories I’d told whomever and try to be the person they expect me to be; it is not easy to change someone’s mind about who I am.

Worse is all the people who don’t have enough going on in their heads and in their hearts to be able to hold a conversation with me (or even just follow my side of the conversation while quietly nodding and smiling); I have intentionally grown impatient with them. I never used to like ‘dumb’ people, but I have now expanded that to include the shallow and hollow people that surround me. I have decided that they are not worth my time and effort, and if there is something more worthwhile to do than to accommodate their gibberish (such as sitting alone and staring at a blank wall), I will do what I can to break away politely and immediately, and never engage that person in conversation again.

This has left me (consciously and actively) with very few “friends”‘ left. Not because of some question of whether I’m better than them somehow, but rather over whether they are interesting and whether they are capable of recognizing the difference between worthwhile conversations and otherwise. I’m not saying small talk is worthless, and in fact I’ve had a couple of very insightful conversations about the weather with virtual strangers recently, I’m trying to say that even sometimes talking about what is most important in your life can be worthless if it has never occurred to you why it is important to you. I’m trying to say that there’s a reason I don’t go hang out with the people that I used to anymore, and I haven’t been able to make new friends like I used too because now I seem to think about why and whether I would want them as friends. It is not a coincidence that when I run into nearly any of the people that I had the opportunity to “hang out” with at one time or another but have not seen in a while, we have nothing to say to each other – no interest in catching up on old times because there were really no old times between us.

That is not to say that all of my relationships have been shallow. The people with home i had more than a passing relationship with are generally still around now and again. They are among the few people I have left, and their number seems to be shrinking. Too many good people let their lives get in the way of their living. So many people that have been important parts of my life for so long are stepping out of reach or allowing the circumstances of their everyday lives prevent them from continuing to share their lives with mine. Sometimes worthwhile circumstances, which I understand, and sometimes less worthwhile ones, which I fight tooth and nail. No matter what though, I can see a time not very many pages away on my calendar past which I am very much alone.

When Saturday night rolls around and I begin to wonder what to do, I will scroll through the list of names in my phone and remember what circumstance is standing in between my spending time with them and whereas today I have a name or two which are safe to call time and again, those will soon be mired in circumstance. Perhaps this will give me an opportunity the likes of which I have never had; to work without even consideration to interruption on whatever project my heart desires.

(I have long had a disability in the presence of others. I cannot seem to initiate new creative works, or continue work on creative works already begun if there are other people around. Even when it is just some roommate on the other end of the house, quietly sitting in his room, it is someone around and they could come out at any time and break the spell, and just the thought that someone may come home while I am working has stopped me more times than I can count from even beginning a new project. This has translated beyond purely creative projects to more mundane ones, like doing the dishes or cleaning up around the house or mowing the lawn. Stories I meant to write, laundry I meant to wash, weeds I meant to pull, all go unanswered because there was someone else around or I didn’t know if someone would soon be around. Late at night after the world around me has gone to sleep and it becomes cool and quiet, I seem to be able to get work done; sleeping people aren’t a threat, I suppose. At worst, my ideas will invade their dreams, right? Or are their dreams what wake my muse?)

Right now i have two roommates. One of them is not someone that I would ever have chosen as a roommate, and this summer when the lease is up I hope to be able to permanently end my relationship with him in a civil manner. The other is someone that I cherish as a friend, but who has taken it upon himself to fill his life with circumstances, some worthwhile and some questionable, that will both remove his availability as a roommate and remove the rest of his social calendar, respectively. Due in part to the difficulty of finding someone new to live with, and due primarily to circumstances such as those detailed in the preceding paragraph, I believe that I will be living alone for the first time, beginning in a month or two. The difference in lifestyle seem positive, considering that nearly any roommate I were to locate would be someone unknown to me, and almost certainly a roadblock to getting things done. The difference in expenses seems somehow more troubling.

I have been trying to figure out how much money I can afford to pay in rent, and in doing so have been trying to determine how little I will accept as a standard of living. I cut 400 anytime minutes off my telephone this morning to try to save a little money every month. I haven’t been using those minutes for a while (though I used as much as 1600/month for quite a while before that), so If this trend of less and less people to talk to continues, the cost savings will justify the switch. I will probably trim something like 100 or 150 channels off my cable box very shortly. If the prices aren’t fair, I may get rid of the cable box altogether (though I seem to spend something on the order of no less than 16-20hrs a week watching what it spews out) and then who knows what I would fill my time with.

Part of the trouble is that I don’t want to live in an apartment. I don’t want to live in a condo, and I don’t want to live in a duplex. I want to live in a single family home. I don’t have a down payment, so I can’t afford to buy a home right now, so I have to pay more every month in rent than a mortgage payment would be for the same house. In the area in which I want to live (downtown Tempe, AZ), the smallest, crappiest houses’ rent payments are more than twice what I’m paying now (which makes sense, since I’m only paying a little over a third of the rent where I’m at,) and it goes up, of course, from there. So, how much can I afford to give up to live alone in a house? What extravagances can I live without? Certainly there’s the cost of eating out, which I’ve made great strides in cutting in the last few months by eating a lot of peanut butter sambwiches.

Then there are other expenses, like the money I spent last weekend on getting my PC back up and running after the mainboard went bad. I know I can live without a computer. In fact, I have the PowerBook I’m working on right now, anyway, right? The reason this comes to mind is because today my PC froze up and then wouldn’t turn on and my hardware diagnostics say that the CPU doesn’t respond, and was probably overheated. So, I’m still within my 15 days of purchase & I can get that replaced, and to prevent this from happening again I can go buy a case for my computer with well-designed ventilation and a more powerful power supply, and possibly upgrade the CPU fan and/or get a TK chip to help out a little. I spent close to $400 I wasn’t planning on spending replacing the parts that went bad on the last one, and now I get t spend what will probably come to another $100-150 trying to get this one up and running and reliable again. Or, I could just return the whole mess, return the mainboard and processor and network card I had to buy and I could even return the video card that I spent almost $250 on to be able to play video games that look good and run smoothly. And the cost would really be in my ability to play said games. Besides Maya, a 3D modeling and animation package I was planning on learning, what is there that I can’t do on my PowerBook that I could do on my PC? Just games, I think. They were taking up too much of my time, anyway. I cancelled my EverQuest account the other day, and I haven’t been able to let myself sit down and play Black and White in a week because I know I don’t have the time for it. Maybe dissembling the PC and abandoning the idea of owning a desktop PC for a while will be a good thing. I can apply the money towards paying back my debt a little faster.

If I don’t have a PC to play PC games on, maybe I’ll stop spending so much money on all the amazing new PC games that come out but I never have the time to play, and I can use that money to help pay the higher rent I’ll be faced with. With all the time I’ll have freed up by not having a PC or cableTV (and maybe even no internet access, which we all know comes at no small expense), maybe my painting or writing will finally take off and I’ll be able to get some extra income off that. Maybe if I stop drinking water I can reduce my utility bills. Maybe if I stop having friends altogether I can pitch my cellphone, too. Maybe if I become an ascetic I won’t need to eat as much. Maybe if I become a shut-in I won’t be bothered by falling in love and being unable to live with the object of my affections.

There is so much in my life that I treasure. I have a good job that I’m good at, and it provides me enough money that I can have nice things, and I’m sure I’ll be able to afford living on my own, which seems like a nice thing all by itself. I have had a few really good friends over the years and their lives are becoming so full and so fulfilling that they hardly know what unhappiness is. I have known love in my heart and soul, and have been loved deeply by another. I have talent in and find joy in simple acts like writing and painting and drawing, that I can do freely, and when I do it brings a little bit of joy to other people as well.

Things aren’t actually bad, they’re just not the way I’d pictured them. The outlook I have for the future is becoming more and more fuzzy and more and more grey, and I’m rapidly approaching a point past which all the things I’ve ever realistically hoped and dreamed for have either passed into impossibility or passed into memory. Part of the sinking, hollow feeling is in seeing what seems like a sort of emptiness ahead that cannot be avoided, and watching as events unfold to make that future only more and more real. Part of it is in watching as the friends that I had hoped to be able to always turn to and share my life with step into the distance or into the crowded streets and out of my path; knowing that they are on their way out for good just makes watching them walk away that much harder.

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.