Growing up, I always wanted to be someone else. I wish I could say that I was always fiercely original but I wasn’t. I wanted to be a baseball or football star or be the president or vice-president. I started playing basketball and did okay but then I realized I sucked and quit. I cared about politics and then I realized I cared but not too much. Then I imagined that I would have sons and that I would genetically alter them so that they could be stars at sports.
I noticed that my penis was getting longer and harder sometimes. I got my first pimple and then another one and then many others. I didn’t have many close friends. I blamed my haplessness on my pimples and my lack of basketball skills. I got in trouble at school a lot and my parents made me stay in my room so I read a lot and wrote a lot. Eventually I discovered pot and liquor. Puberty was weird.
The first day of college my mom cried as I hugged her goodbye and then I shook my dad’s hand and they drove away while my mom was sobbing. I decided to go around looking for people and looking for pot.
I never had sex my whole life but I got my dick sucked. I had trouble talking to girls.
I smoked a lot of pot everyday and got drunk a good amount of days and sometimes I bought other shit and did other shit. I was living a diverse life. But I wasn't actually doing anything.
I walked away from the main area of campus because it seemed that anything anyone said made me feel sad or angry, because it all seemed to be aimed at me, even if they weren't directly talking to me. I took a look back to make completely sure I wasn't being followed.
I stood in a graveyard. I wasn't at all drunk or high or fucked up, and it seemed like the first time in a long time that I hadn't been on drugs. I really wanted to escape. I looked at all the graves and realized that all the people underneath the stones were all dead. They had never found a way to permanently escape. They just died.
I sat in a waiting room for hours, with no anxiety at all. I had been crying endlessly and couldn't think of anything. Then they said that I could have a room for the night and leave the next morning. I later found out this was a lie; they actually could keep me as long as they wanted once I signed in.
The first night was really surreal. The nurse asked me if I knew where I was. My room was comfortable and they gave me sleeping medicine because I hadn't slept in four days. I stared at a Van Gogh painting in the hallway. It seemed much too fitting for the place I was in. I felt the medicine kicking in, so I went to bed. In the middle of the night I was awoken by the head nurse screaming at I-don't-know-who. She said the word "rancid." Then I went back to sleep and slept until dinner the next day.
I was sitting on my bed trying to read Bukowski. I was in the hospital and my friend had brought it to me from the library. Next to me my roommate, Dale, was eating a cheeseburger. He always took cheeseburgers from the dining room and hid them in his dresser. I don't know why he hid them; I don't think anyone would have cared.
A girl from the down the hall walked into our room. She was always coming into our room. Her name was Ariel. That wasn't her real name but I called her that because I was still somewhat convinced that she was a girl I knew called Ariel. She always seemed way too flirtatious though. Not like the real Ariel.
"What are you up to?" she asked.
"Reading," I said. Dale was taking the cheese off of his cheeseburger and didn't notice her arrival. I don't know why he didn't just get a hamburger.
"Will you go out for break time today?" she asked.
"Of course, it's the only time we can go outside," I said, "But it does suck that we're relegated to a 30 by 30 foot space on the third floor of a hospital for our break time."
"Yeah," she said.
She sat down on my bed and put her legs out so that they were hanging on Dale's bed. I went back to reading my book. Dale continued to fool around with the same cheeseburger. Or maybe it was another one that he had had stashed away.
Bukowski was talking about mowing the lawn as a boy and how his father didn't help him but did watch him the entire time. I could relate to that, and then I wondered if my friend had known I would relate to that, and then I wondered if my friend had been trying to send me a message by giving me this particular book by Bukowski, knowing that I would read this particular passage.
"Do you want to listen to music?" asked Dale.
"Sure," I said.
"Yeah, do it!" said Ariel.
Dale got out his diskman and put in a CD and turned the volume all the way up. He had to turn it up because we didn't have a real CD player, we just had diskmen. He played the song "Bodies" by that bad metal band Drowning Pool and I told him to change it and then he skipped through a couple songs and then he played "What I Got" by Sublime. I smiled and he smiled and Ariel smiled, although I don't know if she smiled just because we smiled, or not. I felt good right then and I began to sing along and then Dale began singing with me and Ariel eventually picked up the chorus and we all felt good and temporarily happy.
I finished the Bukowski book and was trying to read Kerouac's first novel, but it was boring and so I was aimlessly flipping through Dale's book by Freud. It was called The Interpretation of Dreams. I was reading about the id and ego and superego and trying to find out if it made any sense to me in relation to reality.
I went up to get a drink from the water fountain across the hall from our room. I noticed there were an unusual amount of people in the hallways. The two ladies who always exercised by walking were passing through our hallway and the one lady was talking about the damned Jews and the other was looking back from me to her awkwardly. I wondered why, and then I shook my head and my hair spun around a little, and then I decided I didn't care.
I went to take a sip of water from the fountain and no water came out. I tried pushing on the lever several times and no water came.
"They turned all the water off."
I turned around and saw a man named Hank who was crazy. He had crazy hair and he always talked about how his roommate had stolen his pants. He always walked around in a robe and tried talking to me, but I ignored him.
"Yeah, they turned it off to punish us," he said.
"Nah-uh," I said, "really?"
"Yeah, the old black man who rides the wheel chair started yelling at one of the nurses and one of them put their arm on his shoulder and he shoved them against a wall," he said.
"Fuck," I said. I began walking back to my room.
"Hold on," he said, "Aren't you going to help us change things around here." He pointed to several other people behind him who were mulling about in the hallways. I didn't know whether he meant that they were going to start some kind of insurrection or what he meant. I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my room to read Freud. Hank said something else, but I had a headache and I couldn't hear him.
My final day in the ward my friends were allowed to visit and they brought me Wendy's. I smiled and talked about how I would never waste another day of my life ever again. I had so many ideas and felt like I had so little time before I got old, and this made me anxious but I also felt somewhat audaciously prepared.
My parents came and picked me up and drove me home to Ohio and I talked optimistically about my future the whole way home. It felt good to be in open air.
My first day home I sat in my room listening to Philip Glass, staring at the computer screen, feeling sad about how sad I was feeling.
I picked up my life and decided to be a true creative force. I wrote often and started a real band and took girls out on real dates. None of the dates worked too well, I think I put too much pressure on both myself and the girls.
All the vodka was gone. And the orange juice. I felt whatever.