See the man with the lonely eyes,
Take his hand,
You'll be surprised,
Supertramp from the song Give A Little Bit
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I was fourteen, I was pretty much scared of everything.
Every year about this time of year, I have a habit of sharing something a little more personal than usual. This year is no different I suppose. At least it gives my readers an opportunity to understand what kind of truculent malcontent they're really dealing with.
I received a notice today from one of those semiautomatic, Tommy-gun email sender thingys that notified me in big, bright, bold letters that tomorrow is my birthday... as if I needed some vapid digitized motor-mouthed cattle prod to remind me. Seriously... this is my 54th trip around the big yellow sky God, Sol. You think I haven't figured it out yet?
Besides, if I really want to know I'm getting older, all I need do is put on my spectacles after a shower and look in the full length mirror.
Let's not go there... 'kay? 'Kay.
I was watching the movie “The Way Back” last night which triggered thoughts of a fourteen year old me. To say I identified with Duncan (the main character) would be an understatement. There were moments in the movie when it was painful to watch, as if the writers had been keeping track of me as a boy. I was awkward, uncommunicative, nerdy, gangling, small for my age and couldn't seem to get a toe hold on where I belonged. Which also made me a complete dipshit around girls I thought were pretty... which hasn't changed much. That was Duncan. I had no idea where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do or even if I would make it far enough to bother having goals and dreams. I don't recall wanting to be anything other than survive. I seriously didn't believe I would survive my teens. By whose hand was in question then too.
At this time of year – every year – I begin to assess who and where I am. It just happens and I don't know where it comes from.
This year a book showed up.
I did something called The Baggage Project a few years ago which is now in book form. It's basically a baring of the soul while taking tasteful photos with a bunch of suitcases of varying vintage and size and... well... everything else bare. It was one of the better experiences I have had – if for no other reason – simply for being brave. There was a short interview after the photo shoot. Honestly, I can't remember what I said, which to me means it wasn't important enough; not deep enough or personal enough. I thought about that interview a while ago and knew what I wanted to say... sort of. So I closed my eyes, took myself back to that place in the studio and free-form streamed thought to see what came out and for better or worse, this is it:
I'm mostly scared.
I often feel like I'm broken. You know... pieces laying all over the floor and me trying to pick them up and fit them back together. I don't open up much. Oh, I show the real me while I'm out there but it's only a piece. The socially acceptable piece. I think if too many people see the real me I'll be shunned. There's very few people out there who have seen the pieces lying on the floor. Even fewer know they're my pieces. That somehow these bits fell off.
So I don't get close. I suppose I could say I was always the loner. I know I was a lonely kid. Even when I was with friends I felt just outside the margins. Just different enough to not be “one of them”. I was odd. Fuck... I'm still odd! I'm still outside looking in. I still don't quite fit in and I feel like if I can just get these pieces off the floor before anyone notices and put them back maybe... maybe... maybe I can be one of them, you know? If I can... just get the pieces to fit...
Please let the pieces fit.
So... yeah... I'm mostly scared... you know? Scared the pieces won't fit and I'll be outside forever. Scared someone will notice the pieces are missing... or see them strewn on the floor with an uncoordinated fourteen year old boy scrambling to pick them up. I guess that's it. I'm mostly scared.
Scared someone will get close enough to see I'm broken... and there's pieces missing... and they'll leave me there alone with all the fucking pieces all over the floor.