A Bitter Young Man

I sat and rolled the pen across the smooth surface of the table and caught it, repeating this until I felt the chair begin to vibrate. I pulled my phone from my crotch and read my father’s text wishing me a Happy Birthday. The phone fell from my hands as I lost the will to hold it a moment longer, pushed it off the table and continued rolling the pen between my hands. I kept thinking about tonight and how there would be a nice, quiet apartment for me to disappear into. One deadbolt and a wooden door was all that would separate me from the boisterous crowd of Friday night drunks and the endless wail of sirens. I wished there was a way to disappear without being alone, simply a method of separating oneself from the surrounding chaos of agendas and the swarm of opposing personalities. Mentally, it was a clash of galaxies, the collision of new and old stars burning in each other’s presence, each burning fervently with every last shred of energy until it fades to black, leaving the stronger stars the new points on the star map. Nobody remembers or thinks about the dead light, there is no reason to. After the confrontation comes assimilation. It does not have to be this way.

Physically, it is the most ordinary situation a human may consider. Being in the company of other humans has been an ongoing trend among our species. There is no celebration for the one who wishes to turn their back on the tribe, this is met with a degree of hostility.

The pen fell to the floor.

So, then, how is it possible for one to seek isolation yet feel compelled to be loved? The apparent contradiction frustrated me to the point of temporary dismissal of the thought while I retrieved the pen and wrote on my arm:

     You are alive. This is reality.

I am so tired of this. Everything around me suggests a purpose in life fulfilled by means of acquiring goods or participating in trends to join the masses in their universal praise for shallow observation and fabricated reactions. I grimace when I hear advertisements so blatantly pandering to preconceived notions of behavior and happiness created by marketing teams and executives desperate to feed the capitalist machine. I resent what has now become the standard of entertainment, the corporately owned musicians forever creating the desire to obtain more wealth, goods, or status.

I’m not one to berate the life choices of those around me. I do, however, take issue with the mainstream idea of happiness and fulfillment. And if I desire to make a change, it starts here.

The bell rang and the door swung open. Sleepy students slowly gathered into the classroom and took their seats. A young man wearing a football jersey sang a rap song that was playing in his earphones. A girl drinking from a thermos spilled coffee on the front of her sweatshirt but did not take notice.

I picked up the green AP U.S. History textbook and turned to the section detailing the Bill of Rights. This is not an advanced placement course, it’s a sophomore United States History class required to  graduate high school. However, this particular text contained some of the best researched and multi-perspective approach to our nation’s history, likely due to the fact that it was written by an international body for international students which is why it was rare to see in American classrooms.
I watched the last student take their seat before I stood to close the door. One of my students asked what I had written on my arm and I smiled as I rolled down my sleeve and said, “A reminder to assign more homework over the weekend.”

P.S. It has been too long since I last sat down to write. I am a disgrace to the craft.


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