I think I’d soon see myself grow up and become a man if it weren’t for the desires of childhood peeking through the cracks in my wooden heart.
I find myself regularly checking the time, wondering if sometime soon it will run dry and I will be left alone on the pier of another life, reborn as another man in another pair of shoes I don’t clean as often as I could.
There is a stark divide in the way I think, when I’ve been caught up living day to day and when I take the moments, I find myself in and cherish them. I can pinpoint the blame on anything I desire, too. Did I have a rough start? That’s why my mind is fuzzy and blank. Did I get into an argument with someone today? I can feel the fog in my head. Did I get enough sleep last night? I can feel it like a dull buzz on the top of my spine.
This ethereal mist within me comes out in the form of doldrums and dissonance to the world around me. I feel just so slightly out of sync with the world that is still spinning upon my feet. My days of marathon running never having begun, it’s difficult to explain how the world spins because I keep moving. It’s as difficult to explain as the fog inside my mind. Just moments behind everyone else I look to for guidance. The world understands the answers to the riddles we are given a fraction of a second before me, when that fog rolls in.
It’s difficult to explain, and even more so to understand.
I’ll sit down on a normal day, with a normal smile on my mind and write thirty versions of something I intend to share with you before scrapping it and moving on to something that requires less focus, less attention. Have you ever seen a glitch in an old television where it looks like a bar is running along the screen, beneath all of the static and the diodes it travels from one end to another before halting for a moment, resetting and traveling through again?
It’s like that inside my mind sometimes. Other artists call it “getting in the zone” but I don’t think that really fits, for me. I don’t have to get in the zone, I’m always in the zone. It’s more a matter of getting out of it in order to behave like a real human.
Or, growing up.
My childhood was rife with painting and crafting, writing and creating things that I can hardly remember at the old age of 25. The paintings I made when I was a child have long since been forgotten, save for a few of the one which really stuck out. One in particular, an Iguana that I drew for my mom that still hangs on the front of my parents cluttered refrigerator. A page from a scrap book covered with memories and filled with Stella Rosa and last night’s leftovers.
When I grew, and as I grew, I was focused on seeing these… things that sat outside my window. They would stand in the streets and stare up into my bedroom from where they were. Congregated beneath light posts like cultists whose patron emitted a sick orange light. I would sit up some nights in that foggy, dreamlike state and concentrate really hard, not letting my eyes blink.
I would focus so hard that the static in my brain would melt into my eyes and cover them, the whole world growing silver and shimmering in the reflected light.
Then and only then with the reflection of that mind-bending static I could see the things, like people and animals all fused together. Horrible specters that stood beneath the street lights, staring at me.
On one night in particular I sat with my father watching a thunderstorm above and staring, every so often, feeling the static drain from my skull and fill my eyes with the fuzzy feeling I had become so fascinated with. I knew that I could be free of it if I only blinked, but I refused to. I was enthralled, captured by the way these creatures danced in the moonlight.
They would only dance when I stared for long enough, I’m sure, wanting to know that I was engaged as their audience. They would hide their talents for me before the performed, but when they did it was breathtaking, and horrifying.
Their dance began as earnestly as I had begun creating. Swinging their arms and legs gently through the air, they mirrored my thoughts, erratic and chaotic moments to serene peace in only a few steps, and with each of those moments that passed I began to notice them drawing closer and closer to me, in a macabre sense of joy I left my eyes open.
The stinging and dryness were too much for me as they had crossed the street, and I was forced to close my eyes. In a moment they vanished into blackness and when I had reopened them, I looked around to see where those things had gone to.
They were nowhere to be found, but I worried as I looked towards my father that they were going to capture us. They were coming from the streetlight across the road and I knew that despite their dance they would be upon me before I knew it, had I not paid attention.
So, I returned to my duty, believing that I was there that evening to protect my father from the things that wanted to dance with me. I stared at the place where I had first found them and waited with my eyes held open. I held them there until I could feel that static drain once more from my mind and into my vision and I saw them again. Standing where they had first stood, staring at me from beneath the light. Their dance could only last as long as I could hold my eyes open.
I watched them, a sudden fear gripping my throat as I realized that I was in control of them, I was there to watch them, and it was my audience that gave them reason to come towards me.
I allowed it to be so, and from that night onward I refused to try it once more.
The act served to teach me something valuable later in life, but it was only after I came to realize what that static was that I truly understood those things I had seen as a child.
I’m a fan of telling ghost stories and relaying the frightening events I’ve experienced to others. I’ve come into the habit of embellishing many of them for the sake of storytelling, but there are certain things that need not be embellished.
The fact is, we have all seen ghosts. We see them in our exes, our disowned family, our dying pets. We see them in the jobs we have failed, the romances that never bloomed, in the lives we failed to spare.
I see them in failed work, in wasted time, in dreams I may never accomplish.
I fight between that static, which still presents itself in my mind from time to time. On nights of great stress, in moments where I am called to live up to something, I am afraid to live up to. Like the realization that if I am meant to fill my father’s shoes, I have a tremendous amount of work to do.
At times, I think this is why I find myself staring off into the distance, not focused on anything. My eyes remain open, just as they did when I was a child. Even today, it happens upon me. Some part of me, the child within that is still afraid of them tells me that it is because one of them found me in that static. One which I could not see, and it took hold of me as often as it could. That when I find myself staring off into the distance trying to remember a thought that the fog had cut off from my tongue, it is trying to get me to invite them to come back, to spend more time with them.
I realized that the fears of my youth are not much different than the fears of my adulthood. That even today, in many ways I am still that young man watching these horrors of my own creation dancing towards me. I’ve managed the static in my eyes, but it hasn’t left my mind. I’m afraid it never will.
As I grew into my adulthood, I’ve learned how to separate that static from my own life, knowing that one day if I stare for long enough those things that hide behind the fog will come back and they will dance, and should I find them on a, particularly dreary evening…
Perhaps I will be inclined to dance with them in return.
Thank you so much for spending your evening with me. It means the world that you’d consider sharing and liking this post. I hope to remain entertaining long until after I’ve turned to bone.
Tell me, is there anything you’re afraid of? Not living up to your expectations? Are you afraid of spirits or the government? Are you afraid of something much sillier, but no less valid? Let’s talk about it. I promise it isn’t all bad, I know it isn’t.
If you have been keeping up with Mean for the Holidays, THANK YOU so much. I’ve loved this first week and as it draws to a close, I’ve begun a small poetry project over on my Instagram. I’ll likely be posting some of them here. This is the first:
If you’d like to see more, check out my Instagram and follow. I’m excited to see where this goes. I’ve taken pages from my old books and turned them into blackout poetry, and to be honest I don’t have any sort of plan or idea what these will become. I’m just as blind as you are, going in.