Too close for comfort

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Let’s face it: I’m the last person you’d expect to find in a city. I walk around the streets wearing a torn up shirt from the 8th grade (I’m in my 20s now), a pair of three-time hand-me-down German camo pants and a baseball cap. I don’t even bother trying to hide it. What point is there? When I put the dog on a leash there’s this part of me that shuts down. I don’t have to think anymore, not really, I just have to focus on this one thing. I found a hidden ravine that was several miles in length and connected to some nearby parks. 

The few people I saw were rude and standoffish, the sort that grimace at you when you walk by. So I grinned in return. It’s only been two days and I am already stir-crazy. Being locked up in a house in suburbia with three hunting dogs with a backyard the size of my living room  isn’t all that pleasant. They’re all too cramped, leaping over one another and fighting for space on the couch. If I sit in the chair they all end up trying to clamber into it with me. 

Surprisingly, I had more trouble with one of the people here than the dogs. The dogs go away if you tell them to; people don’t take a hint. Today was different however, and trouble decided to change her tune for some reason, so it was better. 

I walked and walked. The more I walked, the more overgrown it became, and the better I started to feel. It was a very literal release. I hadn’t realized how badly I needed it until the poison was truly purged. It was the good sort of physical hurt that brings with it a sense of relief. The worst is over, it says. I felt clean and like myself again. I can’t live in this sort of place where I look out the bathroom window straight into someone else’s house that’s only 10 feet away. I need space and trees and animals and shitty, potholed dirt roads and AWD cars and redneck trucks and rivers and lakes. 

I did go to a river here, and caught some fish. We took a boat to a deserted runoff and sat for a few hours, lazily fishing in the hot sun. I forget how pale I am until I am out in the sun. Even with a hat, my whole face has taken on a reddish hue. My dog with his thin fur and pink skin isn’t much better off. Apparently I’m supposed to put sunscreen on him, someone told me. You put sunscreen on dogs? Truly? Where was I when this became a thing? 

 

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I’m paler than a vampire’s ass and I don’t even wear the shit. But if my face is anything to go by, I’m going to have to start again. My own breath is slightly painful because of its warmth. Pathetic. I’m also terribly allergic to dogs (I just typed ‘gods’ twice, oh, the irony!) so I’m more or less a full-time mouth-breather with sniffles, because somehow your nose can be stuffed and runny at the same time. 

I’m just glad I found a little haven. I have a monster’s retreat now, and suddenly everything is much brighter and easier to handle. It’s okay if my dog shits on their carpet and destroyed on of their rugs; I can walk out the door at anytime I don’t want to deal with people and go where it is familiar and comforting. Because yes, there indeed is comfort to be found in shaded little hideaways down by the river that hide you from the prying eyes of the city. I may still hear the cars and the screaming human beings, but I am far away enough that I am not to be touched by them. Some things are sacred and will never be ruined for me. 

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Of Yesterday

I woke up feeling strange. I was so numb that it was difficult to get up. I wonder sometimes how no one can see, not even the one that sleeps to my right. Sometimes I crawl to his side then straddle him to stare at his sleeping face. He never wakes up. I know I’ve worn him out, but I don’t feel bad; I don’t feel anything.

I walked by the river. The air was warm, humid even. I let the dog loose and he keeps running up the bank, then back to me, wagging his tail, oblivious. It’s why I’ve never liked dogs. They’re insensitive to me, and overly optimistic. All the dog-grins and tail wagging makes me irritable. I sit down on a rock, miles and miles from home, and I watch the river, overflowing from the rains. Tourists show on the other side of the bank, and I watch them bitterly as they take photographs. They see that I am there and wave. I make a tired motion with my hand and look away, despising how others always seem to ruin the moments I treasure most. I can’t hear the flow of the water anymore, just their garish voices, and it sets my teeth on edge. Fools with oversized cameras and shorts. Older, with that air of exploration about them, as though they are the first to see this. But I know that many have walked the path before me; it’s in the footprints, in the very trees, in the way that the path is unnaturally flat. The dog at my side doesn’t have a lead, but he doesn’t run to them as I expect. He sits down at my feet, ears pricked, staring at the invaders, like he too knows they don’t belong here. They aren’t leaving, and they’re ruining my peace. I let out a growl of a sigh and get up, giving them one last look of loathing as I depart, moving on to find a place they won’t disturb.

When the walk is done, and I am making my way to my car, I realize I don’t feel done. I’m not ready to go home. I lean against the door, contemplating. I have a full tank of gas, a rarity. I grin, decided. The further I drive, the more wood-filled the landscape becomes. There are no cars, and the pavement is worn. I see a pullout that leads to a dirt trail, and I take it. The car easily makes it over the sticks and debris and toward the flat, treeless spot. There’s large slats hammered into the trees here, way up high where you’d need a ladder. There’s a pit for fire, surrounded by large rocks, and leavings of beer bottles and buckets, probably to catch the blood, I surmise. There’s still rope hanging from one of the wood slats, that cheap yellow kind that I remember the smell of. When I was a kid, my dad would burn the tips to keep them from fraying, and that smell comes to me then, even though this rope is a perfect yellow, free of burns.

I wonder what it must have been like, having the dead hanging nearby while I drank beer and sat by the fire. Death is never new when I find it, it’s always old and rotted, like the fox I found on the road on the way there. It was gnarled and stiffened, its bones a thick dust that sticks to my lungs when I cut through them with a blade. It makes me choke and sputter, as though the very substance of it could take me too, breathe that death into me. His eyes are black sockets, a void, and his nose is black leather. His limbs are at strange angles, and I can still see the marks in the dirt where someone swerved to avoid him. I always take the head. I don’t know why it’s more important than the other parts. Maybe because this is where it saw the world. Everything, every moment, it went though those sockets that are now filled with little black beetles and stinking, fat flies.

I get back in the car with the dog and keep going. There are deer everywhere, so I drive slow, having to stop several times as they cross my path, their long ears flicking as they try to discern what this strange metal beast is. I open the sunroof, even though there is little sun to be had. It hasn’t rained all day, but a few moments later, there is a light patter on my windshield, and I smile at the irony. Soon enough there is a downpour, enough that the road becomes flooded. I look down at the trip, and realize I’ve gone over 40 miles. It’s 6 pm and I should go home. I don’t want to go home, but I should. I turn around on another dirt road, and start back, feeling nothing. I’m not sad or happy or anything at all. I’m just watching the rain. There’s so much of it, that it makes a mist over the ground that gets blown into the trees when I drive by. There’s so much rain I almost can’t see, and when I look out my side window, there is nothing but a smudge of deep green and that misty haze. It’s beautiful, I think, and for the first time all day, I feel something, and I am grateful.

I stop at that spot again, and I get out. It’s pouring so heavily that I am instantly soaked through. I laugh, and run over to one of the buckets, wanting to know. But it’s raining and raining. I cut my hand trying to get it open, and that too, is somehow funny. I look back at the car, and see the dog watching me through the window. I abandon the bucket and get back inside. I have to go home, but I don’t want to.

I’m going faster and faster, and I decide that I don’t care if I hit a deer. I wonder if I hit it hard enough it will come through the windshield and take me with it. Would I ever be so lucky as to have the choice without doing the deed?

As though someone knows my musings, a deer walks out into the road. There’s a moment where my foot doesn’t touch the brake, and I wonder if this creature’s life is worth more than mine. And I smile because I know it is.

I force the car around, and the doe stares back at me, like she knows. There’s a cascade of water up the side of the car as I move through the sheet of water underfoot, and she’s still standing there, looking after me. A moment later, she runs off into the woods.

Not so different

Yesterday was something of a weird day. I woke up in the afternoon only to realize that the friend I actually like to be around, had stopped by and given my father a dead thing to give to me. My dad had left for the lake, but there were some odd texts, and a picture of something fuzzy. After a search of the garage, I found it hidden in a corner in a Wal-Mart bag, with little buck teeth and cute, wolverine-like claws.

Somehow we ended up at the river with our  significant others, collecting sticks and stealing them from one another. I went walking in the stream and looked for rocks. We played with the dog, and visited some of the campsites. Then we went over to their house, where I fed everyone (surprise, surprise, I’m a fucking feeder), and we watched a horror movie.

I woke up this morning and made plans to go to the rock quarry with her (what’s with me and rocks?), only to discover after the long drive up the mountain and the ten dollars in premium gas, that there was a toll booth at the top. We turned around and went back toward home, then finally toward the caves, where we stayed for awhile, climbing down into the cold, rocky tunnels. We found a bird’s nest and a couple of squawking parents who guarded over it belligerently. My friend, of course, had to take a photo of the nest and piss them off some more.

Then I’m driving, going between 75-80 mph, down a road that looks like it belongs in a horror movie. There’s potholes that are circled with spray paint, and they’re so deep that someone lost a tire to one, which is splayed all over a section of road in black, curled husks. We’re talking about brothers and sisters fucking, when a small bird comes flying at us, and hits my side of the windshield so hard that he literally impacts and disappears. We stop a moment later, curiously looking behind us for a telltale sign of the dearly departed. I turn the car around, and we go searching, looking for the dreadful thing. I think I see a crack on my windshield, which she finds out, with a swipe of her fingers, is nothing more than the insides of a crunched bug. We part at a spot where she thinks she sees a bird hopping. We comb the bushes and find nothing, much to our disappointment. I’m almost out of gas and we’re in the middle of nowhere, my old Audi parked halfway on the road with the sunroof open, and the sides filthy from the crappy roads. We decide we’re going to switch cars and go to the butte.

She doesn’t have money yet, so we go a few houses over from her own to borrow some for a day. We check out the cold cellar, which is full of jars and all manner of wrappers. Their yard has chunks of obsidian in it, which I am fascinated by. The ground is covered in a lush, beautiful ivy, and there’s a cluster of trees back behind the house, arranged together, and non-native, which makes the small spot seem to be something of an oasis. It’s shaded and darker, and we stand under the trees, talking about nothing like we always do. Somehow it never seems to get old.

Eventually, after some exploring, we get into talks with her mom about how my friend was supposed to be the medicine woman of the tribe, but never went through with it. They might as well be talking another language when they get into salves and herbs and whatever the word is they keep calling this medicine woman career. They’re talking about shoving weeds up someone’s foot when her mother mutters something about zombies, which peaks my interest even more. Then we’re talking about the story of the robed people who live deep in the forests.

We went on a two hour search for the albino people and their albino Satan dog (long story) and the backwards river, wherein we took her rinky-dink little car onto quad trails that no car should fit on. I don’t know if they’re joking with me or not, but oddly enough, they seem entirely serious, and they both say they have seen such a place. An adventure is an adventure, and I decide I’ll believe in a village of albinos so long as I get an adventure out of it. We squeeze her tiny car between two trees, and somehow made it passed, the dusty trails sending plumes of dust in our faces. I rolled up my window only to discover that the dust was somehow still coming in.

“Car has holes in the bottom,” she says with a grin, and then apologizes. I laugh and we keep driving, following these strange lettered/numbered signs deeper and deeper into the forest until we both look at one another and admit that we’re probably lost. We laugh at that too, even though it’s getting late. We found a butte and a cluster of well-to-do homes and log cabins, but no albino people.

We find a meadow behind a barbed wire fence. Strangely enough, she walks up to it and starts yanking on a post, which I suddenly realize is only attached by looped wire. I help her push on it, and with some effort, the post comes loose of its confines and we’re able to lay the section of fence down on the ground. Like a dog marking its territory, I immediately take a piss (being attacked by ten mosquitoes in the process), and wander over to where she’s standing, staring off at the acres of field in the middle of the spindly-treed forest.

More trails, and another hour, we finally make an attempt to find the way home. She mutters something about all the paths leading to home, and I point her in the general direction. It only takes ten minutes to find the main road, which is surprising after how many trails we followed.

We drive to her home talking about penises and how marriage never gets you any, while I sing along terribly to the radio. She says there’s a map to the albino people, so we’ve planned to make a day of it next week to search again.

Dream

It was only as I was driving down this narrow road that my dream from last night reemerged for me to remember. I swerved to avoid hitting something in the road, and it’s when I saw what it was that it all came unburied. There was a head in the road, a buck’s head, missing the chunk of its skull cap where it antlers should have been. It still had the fur on it, fully recognizable as what it was except for that the body was scattered all around, and its eyes were missing.

Bloated, dead horses, that’s what came back to me. There was this muddy slope covered in a myriad of them, many of them still living. They came in an assortment of colors, but the filth had marred the shine from them so they all appeared dull and monotonous. Except for the white horse. I’m walking along the hillside, calf deep in sludge that was a combination of manure and old, rotting hay. They are shying from me, their manes matted, dreadlocked from years of neglect. The white horse is standing at the base of an oak, appearing untouched by the famine and dirtiness. He’s thick through his neck and limbs, like he’s been eating very well. I’m heading toward the leaning oak.

The horse is eyeing the small animal in front of it, snorting and acting generally displeased. The creature is tiny and white, too-long legs  folded under it awkwardly. Just as I approach, the stallion begins to trample it. The little splotch of white rolls over and cries out, as the horse repeatedly knocks it around. I start to shout, and I see the white horse’s ears prick in my direction, and he even ceases his bullying to glance at me. But then, as though he never saw me, he paws at the ground again, pushing the small animal with his hard hooves. I’m waving my arms now, hollering ‘hey!’, and going as fast as I can to them.

I continue to make a lot of noise even as I get feet from them. The white horse doesn’t seem to know what to think of me and seems to have abandoned his little game in order to better stare. He’s moving from foot to foot nervously, but I keep thinking he’s going to charge at me anyway, as I reach down and grab the mangled little creature. As soon as I have it in my arms I start backing away, and much to my luck, one of the other horses starts something with the stallion, biting at the graceful white neck with yellowed teeth. I take the opportunity to turn away from them and hurry back up to the top of the hill.

I realize that the animal is not what I thought. I mistook it for a lamb. It’s a newborn goat, blue-eyed with fur whiter than snow beneath the grime.

Escape.

It’s summer and it’s cold and it’s raining. I can hear the raindrops pattering on the windows and the sounds of a movie playing in the next room. The power keeps surging through the cords, making the lights flicker and the TVs buzz. There was even thunder a few minutes ago, so loud that the cat woke from his dead sleep and crawled over closer to me before dozing off again.

I couldn’t sleep, and I’m not really allowed, as odd as it sounds. My godfather came to visit, fortunately leaving my godmother behind, much to my mother’s relief and my own. I am not in the mood to deal with her, and given how irritable I was at work, I can only believe that it was most definitely for the best.

I found myself smiling and smiling all day. Not because I had to. I kept daydreaming, playing this scene in my head. That part in Fight Club where Tyler is going to crash the car and he asks Jack what he wants to do before he dies (Jack says he doesn’t know, and doesn’t have much to say about his life). Then they crash, have their ‘near life experience’. I burned my hands over and over on the grill, which I was lucky enough to avoid before. Now I get to ponder my blisters over my time off. I searched for that scene for a good twenty minutes on Youtube. I swear it was there a week ago, because I recall watching it. But it was gone. I’ve been so off, I’m beginning to think that I may have dreamed it up, that perhaps I only thought I watched it. I dream strange things these days besides the nightmares. I live my normal, everyday life, things happen…but it isn’t real. And when I wake I can’t remember what was conjured and what truly happened. I have conversations with my parents, only to realize that it never took place. Then I get that pang, that sensation in my gut, like deja vu, almost, and I know it is only me losing myself. It doesn’t help that my mother can’t remember things half the time, and even if I were to ask her if something took place, she would likely be sketchy on it.  Her memory is getting so terrible. She keeps telling me the same things over and over. I say to her, “You told me, don’t you remember?”

She had a mood today and I thought it was hysterical. I smirked, and hid away in my room, listening to the sounds of her cursing and banging dishes around. Sometimes I am grateful that she has to feel what I feel for once. It seems only fair.

I fled the movie.

I hate how I get bored so easily, yet I can stare out the window for hours without moving. I’m sure my mother won’t appreciate it; she’ll mention something later about me not spending time with my godfather when he drove all of this way. It’s only four hours. He can drive it again. It’s a lovely drive over a mountaintop covered in the thickest forest. You can’t see even ten feet into the trees, and it’s that emerald green color, the sort you don’t much see around here. There are winding rivers the whole way, usually frosted with bits of old snow and layers of ice. Every time I watch it go by the car window I want to tell whoever is driving to stop. I saw a bull elk cross over one of the streams once, before disappearing into the trees. My chest literally aches each and every time I go by that expanse.  I am almost surprised to see it when I do. I ask myself how something so incredibly perfect could be a reality, not some worthless thought in my head. How can it be true? How can it be real? I always doubt, but then…there it is.

I have decided to pay for part of my car insurance each month (I offered to foot the whole bill, but my mother wouldn’t have it), even if it takes a huge chunk of my paycheck. We got some notice in the mail, wherein it was more or less stated that I either revoke my driver’s license or get put on the insurance. It’s a lot of money. All because I’m young, and therefore must be stupid and untrustworthy. And the accident down in Vegas isn’t helping matters any. It got counted against me even though he hit me. Oh well, what can you do? At least it came up at a time when I have a means to help out with it.

But I know what I will do. I’m going to drive again, even if I still hate it. I’ll do it, just to have a way to get around. And when I get used to going everywhere on my own, I’ll drive up that mountaintop, and I’ll park on the side of the road. And I’ll walk in to that perfect forest. I’ll walk in and disappear.   

Because I don’t have to pass it by.

Quasi-Heaven is only attainable in small increments. Then it fades away….

I feel like a crazy person. A numb, distant, sadistic crazy person, almost on the brink of normal…that is if normal includes “numb”, “distant”, and “sadistic”. Don’t know what I’m talking about? I hardly do. My mind is fluttering around like a damn humming bird. Trying to stay on one thought is like trying to control a ferret: damn near impossible. Ferret on crystal meth, no? I should know, I have a ferret…. Not important, but it does give my description merit. Anyway, on with the inevitable talking….

What’s wrong? Who knows. I haven’t really been asking myself lately or done any form of introspective thinking, as I’ve been preoccupied with many other things…. For one, I completely gave in to my desire to consume food…lots of food. Generally I constantly monitor what I’m eating (rather obsessively..I admit) But lately…oh…fuck. Eating. Everthing. Can’t. Stop. Eating. It’s like I opened the gate to paradise…and hell. I hate that I do it, yet I don’t have the will power to stop. And for once I’m allowing that to be the answer…I’ve become so lost in the pursuit of control that I haven’t been letting myself live. And with my beliefs…that is unacceptable. So, viola! Enjoy paradise for a few days kid; it isn’t going to last long.

Along with that, I said “fuck it” to everything else. I read all day long, I write shitty poetry and never post it, I draw horrible pictures and don’t give a shit…I neglect my journal, I stare into space of daydream for hours and hours a day…listen to music far too loudly, ignore the existence of the dog, ignore the fact that my hair looks like shit and needs to be dyed, ignore the fact that I HAVE the hair dye but am too lazy to use it, brush off the fact that I haven’t been getting regular exercise, pretend that I don’t actually need sunlight to survive (gotta love dark sheets that go over windows…), pretend that I’m dead so my cat won’t try to steal the blankets, pretend that email doesn’t exist, never answer the phone even when you hear it ring (and lie when anyone asks), skip to the naughtier sections of Juliette, watch BBC because it is entertaining, daydream about lobbing the heads off of irritating newscasters, and last, but certainly not least, forget that everything not only has a price, but a limit. You only get so much. Then, as all things do, the candle is snuffed out…and the light fades away. Forget that, wipe it from your useless memory and listen to my brainwashing: Everything is good. Everything lasts forever. Everything is good. Everything lasts forever….

You know that saying, “with absence the heart grows fonder” or some such equally stupid bullshit? Well, it’s not true. Never has been. I know it was meant for lovers, but I’m applying it to other people. My mom, for instance. She’s coming home…tomorrow. Honestly, talk about the WORST timing. It’s like God’s up there in his fluffy clouds laughing his ass off right now about my predicament. Bastard. I should sue…anyway…. What’s terrible is that I was just starting to feel…okay…for the first time in I don’t know how long. So long ago, I can’t remember. I was really starting to think that maybe I was beyond salvation from the constant, nagging depression, and that even being alone had somehow lost its power for soothing me. But no. I felt…alright today. I wasn’t dreading the day, or worrying about what I had to do. Is this what normal people feel like? Well, you know, minus the whole loner issues, the sadism, and lack of giving a shit (meaning: absence of feelings). Haha. It’s sad that a day where I don’t focus on dying is a day that can be deemed “good”. Apparently for me that’s as good as good gets.

There’s hell for you. Apparently Sephiroth lives there….

I’ve been going outside the last few days, burning through fuel like crazy on my ATV, forgetting for just a few pleasant hours that there is a place called “home”, or a life that I hate that I am expected to return to. Paradise looks a lot like hell. Ugly, deformed, spindly trees line the small trails, while dispersed throughout are weed-like shrubs that seem never-ending. In the summer it’s like being in a desert with trees—high desert—I suppose it it called. The dust chokes, filling the air so extensively that it is impossible to see. It coats the lungs, covers the clothes. Dirt is beautiful. My hair, shiny and black when I left the house, comes back with me as a dull grey, fibrous like a horses mane from the clouds of dust. Sometimes I go to sleep without washing it, just for that great second where I turn my head on my pillow at night and catch the scent of oil and gasoline. It’s like a goddamned aphrodisiac. I always laughed when I heard people say such things, but now I understand. It’s my silent reminder that there can be times in my life that aren’t a struggle I didn’t choose, times where I live for the challenge, and where I can put thoughts aside for a time…even if it is limited. It’s times like that that remind me of what could be, were I able to coax a little bit of willpower out of myself.

Paradise? Looks like it to me. I like a place with some mystery. Not my picture, by the way, or my forest. If the forest I wandered in looked like that, I might die from sensory overload.

Anyway, mom’s coming home, like I said. I finally feel…not horrible, and back she is again, and I’ll be trapped for another year in a house that I can’t escape. No time alone. Inevitability. I know now that my naivete in believing that happiness is possible, was a stupid one. The best I will ever get is mediocre, or “not horrible”. But even that pathetic gift comes at a steep price, one that I regret everyday I am forced to attend school and pretend that I care.

That is the way of things, I guess.