I grew up an only and lonely child. My best friends were my family. They were also my only friends.
I was always a very thoughtful child. Thoughtful in the sense that I was so unremittingly full of thought.
At school, I would sit in the corner, on the lip drawn contiguous to where people were not, but where people were visible, and I would observe. I would observe the way kids interacted with each other. The way they would smile and have fun and be free. The eyes that would pick on me and call me names and taunt me, right before they would do so.
Discerning and contemplating, why?
Why was I so different from these people? Why could I not just be a kid? Why did I analyse everything? Why didn’t people like me?
Why was I so strange in there eyes, and they in mine?
In a way, I was a very shy child. I was complacent, eager to please, quiet, reserved, and forever alone. But in another way, my spirit was recalcitrant. I never trusted authority figures. I understood their words, I abided by them, I acted in accordance with them, but deep down; deep deep down, I never bought into them. I never believed them. I never swallowed them. And, for the most part, I was happy living in my own world, one that was free from the imperialistic-like imposition authority represented.
Though, with the gift of retrospect, it dawned over me that, paradoxically, this world I lived in was what both and at once saving me and destroying me.
Living in my own world meant that my fantasies were real. Real because they were all I knew. All I could see. And all I could understand. The issue with this is that they were rooted in fear. These fantasies that I would use to springboard my physical body into spheres existing far, far away from this planet that I could never find home in, had spawned from a muddy prairie; a dark place that I so desperately wanted to escape; a bed I did not want to lie in; a record stuck on repeat playing, over and over and over again, a poisonous hymn.
My imagination was a form of escapism. Though, little did I know that it itself was what I wanted to escape.
As a child, all I ever saw in people were devils. Not because they were bad, or evil, or wicked, but rather, because they seemed to me possessed by forces that they, the occupiers of these bodies, did not understand.
All that I ever saw in people were caves blocked off by giant boulders, thick walls without bridges, trees devoured by fire, sunglasses when there was no sun, shaded lenses, locked doors, empty rooms. Emptiness.
I walked around with my head down because no one ever saw me. I felt like a ghost, like Casper, but I was human. And it hurt me. And this is why I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran, further and further and further into my imagination, until it was all that I saw and all I could see.
I was lost in a forest of mire, developed and fuelled by the haunted land I wanted out of.
Little did I know.
As I grew up, I learnt that the world was where I had to live. I learnt that our imagination, if not properly differentiated from “reality” – whatever reality supposes – got stale, and its air became dry. I learnt that one need not totally abandon ones imagination, nor must one spend less time up there. But rather, one must be able to step back, and understand the wedge dividing fantasy and reality. Fiction and non-fiction. The convoluted chiaroscuro of night and day, within and without, me and without me. Or, at least attempt to understand it.
Because now, and here, in the year 2012, I am not the same child I once was. I can express the fictitious albatrosses that live inside of my head, stagnating my body and infecting my soul; I can release these thoughts from my skull, and I have the means of freeing myself from their forlorn grip. Now, I have nothing to run away from. No reason to hide. No drive to escape my own form or the one around me.
Now, I am comfortable in my own skin. Very comfortable. Though, while so much has changed within the confine that is my own self, I still see what I once saw.
When I look into people’s eyes, I still see caves blocked off by giant boulders, thick walls without bridges, trees devoured by fire, sunglasses when there is no sun, shaded lenses, locked doors, empty rooms. Emptiness.
And so, people still scare me. And now, now that I, on the face of things, fit into this world, this world I do not at all understand, but one that I like to think I understand very well; this world that I both and at once love so much and yet feel totally disconnected from, I will still retreat back into my corner. Full of thought.
With my laptop. A cup of coffee. And an imagination.
Now, I will breathe fresh air.
Now, I am only. But not necessarily lonely.