They didn't understand, and that's why I jumped...
you spend the kind of hours I do, alone, on the computer, or in the
apartment, or out on the road, all of it alone, you think about things,
things that would never come to you when you were surrounded by people,
or even just in regular contact with them.
Some called it
shyness, some called it quietness, some called it anti-social behavior.
Some thought I was damaged or traumatized or broken in some way. Some
thought I was retarded. Maybe it was some of these things, but certainly
not all of them.
I wasn't retarded.
They would never understand, probably never could, and that's why I jumped...
was something not quite right when I turned on the hall light to my
apartment. Normally, I felt tall after a long ride on my bike, home from
work or errands or wherever. My head was off, or rather, unusually so,
badly enough that I actually noticed.
I wheeled my bicycle in,
staggering a bit to navigate it through the sharp turns of my entry, on
its back wheel, then on both as I backed it awkwardly into the space
between my trailer and the front window.
I don't have a big place, but it's mine.
not big, but it's under seven hundred a month." John opened the screen
and the front door, and let me in ahead of him. The yellow-beige walls
shone in the late morning light. The local highway hummed pleasantly
past, filtered by a large bush across the walk.
I turned sharply
to the left past the coats-closet and found a small room, barely
ten-by-ten, and then another, kiddie-cornered to the right, and then
snaked around to a kitchen and finally a bathroom.
"I know it's small, but..."
"It's perfect. I have my checkbook; how much did you say the security deposit was?"
"Five hundred, if you have good credit."
"I have good credit."
booted up my computers even before I fully settled in, since they take
some time to warm up, and I needed to record my ride. I needed to crash
into bed, and hopefully dream-filled sleep soon, but my odometer was old
and tended to lose its numbers over long nights. Also, I worked again
the next morning, and would need it clear for the next session.
They took their own sweet time about it, as they do, but by the time I was settled and ready to queue up my programs.
itching in the back of my mind started up as I finished up entering in
my numbers, and I've handled the itching long and often enough not to
let it stew and blister. I dutifully open up a blank word-processor and
let the itch go.
"This is Kiv's mom. I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Her voice sounded wrong, somehow.
"I know; no, you're not."
"I know you and she... broke up... a few days ago, but I know you cared about her a lot..."
"She... she died. This morning. Her diabetes. I'm... sorry. I thought you should know."
"Thank you. Thank you for calling me."
"I need to call... oh, you were the first person I thought of, I haven't... I have to call... I'm sorry."
"it's... I understand. Don't let me keep you."
numbers on my webpage were down, and my mood too, slipping back into
the Stopped Caring stage. I added an iron pill to my daily regimine just
in case it was chemical, and settled down in front of my screens.
could have gone out and spread the few pennies that I'd earned since
the last plunge in my numbers, but I didn't. I was in Stopped Caring.
could have gone out to the social networks, plead with the few souls I
had still following me who weren't bots to read a page or two, or cherry
pick a few things they might like to read, but I didn't. I was in
I could have gone out to my research projects, my
writing projects, my website projects, any of a number of things that
were works in process on and about the web, but I didn't. I was in
Instead, I went out to my video feed and picked
up what had come in since the last time, zoning out while the emptiness
in my head and in my heart faded away into numbness.
"I have to raise the rent again. I'm sorry. It will be in the new lease. The city just keeps rasing the price of everything."
"If you're interested in signing up for another year, that is."
"Alright. I draw up the new lease."
started snooping message boards for pointers on living with less.
That's how I'd picked up the bicycle trailer. A few pages later, I was
reintroduced to diving. The hardest part was getting past the initial
revulsion, is what all the following pages agreed.
That wasn't a
problem for me. Some things never seem to be a problem for me, and other
things that come so easily to some are difficult.
feed was emptying out now, which meant I had to go looking for
something else to provide me with sustained numbness. But if I had to
work for it, it wouldn't be numbness. If I had to work for it, it
wouldn't divert my mind much at all, and that wasn't nearly enough.
was my mind I needed to numb, to silence, to still. It was my mind and
heart that felt so empty and broken when I was in Stopped Caring. It
wasn't something I could fix, that anybody could fix. It was just
something I had to push into cold numbness until it faded into the
background once again.
As I rode to work that Sunday, along my usual route, someone called out to me.
"Ace? Is that you? Ace!"
I was pushing my margin of time to change so I didn't stop, didn't ask, didn't have any priority higher than getting to work.
I wanted to ask, "How do you know that name?"
ride the same route every shift, but I haven't seen her since. I've
been out of the loop of anyone's lives for so long, I can't imagine
anybody who that could be, as young as she was.
I'm keeping my eyes open, my margins wider, and my priorities straighter since, but to no avail.
never work anywhere long, at least, not once I start opening up to who I
really am inside. Nobody wants to be around that, and I already feel
people here trying to reach under the surface with me. I won't let them.
I mustn't let them in.