Everything is “used to” for me now. Someone talks about say, swimming. I’m all “Oh, I used to love to swim.” I talk about how I “used to” love finding new music at used cd and record stores “back in the day.” I used to go here, I used to go there…I used to have friends. All of my stories are about friends I don’t know anymore and things that happened in the mid-to-late ’90s.
It feels like it’s over sometimes. I’m Al Bundy talking about his glory days on the football field at Polk High. Except I’ve never really done anything exceptional(that I can speak of openly), and the nostalgia I have is for a time that I probably thought sucked while I was going through it.
Now I’m old, I hurt a lot of the time, my body doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, I’m broker than ever, and year by year, for the past three or four, at least, my quality of life has steadily declined, and I don’t enjoy anything anymore. I don’t look forward to anything. I’m in a constant state of fear. I’m like a cat spazzing out at the sound of a vacuum cleaner, except no one ever turns the vacuum cleaner off, and life just keeps chasing me around the house with it.
This is going to be difficult for me to type out, because a big part of my OCD is the avoidance of speaking my obsessions aloud, or writing them down, for fear that I’ll make them come to fruition. But here goes…
I’ve been driving everywhere with the windows up and the AC turned off this summer, in the Oklahoma heat, because I’m listening and waiting for my car to make a strange noise I’ve heard it make sometimes. Because if something goes wrong, how will I get to work, how will I pay my bills, what if I get foreclosed on, what will we do, how will I take care of my beloved animals, and then if I’m dying(I always believe I’m dying because I’ve lost weight), who will take care of my wife, how far will my life insurance go, and is there a hell? Am I going to hell, when I die? Will I suffer forever? Am I never to know peace?
And then I arrive at my destination and I continue to worry about the car, and death, and household issues, things possibly breaking down, things that are broken, all the while constantly checking my arms to see if it looks like they’ve gotten skinnier, because until two or three years ago I’d been fat my entire life, and I don’t know who this person is I’m looking at in the mirror but it isn’t me. I get brief flashes of a sensation that my soul is trapped in a stranger’s body.
Meanwhile, I’m working, and people are asking me questions, and I’m answering them, and I’m having to move and think and perform tasks, being careful to avoid injury, and I’ve got all of these browser windows open on the computer desktop of my brain, each with several open tabs of their own, all spam, and all graphics-intensive, all slowing me down.
There’s songs playing in the background at work, on the radio. I have no control over them.
“Free Fallin'” by, of course, Tom Petty comes on, and I love that song, but I hate hearing it in this context.
No longer is the song associated with summer vacations, afternoons at the water park with friends long gone, or driving out to that one convenience store you’ve heard never checks ID and successfully, triumphantly, walking out with a 24-pack of keystone light…
Now I’m free…
Right. I feel more trapped than ever. And that song, along with many others, is now associated with with the drudgery and harsh realities of adulthood.
Welcome To The Jungle…
I go home, listening for the noise in my hot car, exhausted and drenched with sweat, my entire gastrointestinal system aggravated by stress and unknown digestive issues that the doctor can’t quite put his finger on, and I continue to worry. I feed the dogs, relax a little, watch some YouTube on my bedroom TV or listen to music and write.
I hear noises, and I get up to investigate. I remember something I need to do, and I get up and do it. So really, there’s only brief moments of relaxation. I don’t really ever “wind down.” And I continue to think about death and things breaking down or something happening to my dogs or my wife. Things I need to do, like refinish the wood floor, a job I’ve left partially done for over a year now. All of that is circulating in my head, like kids in a mosh pit at Wacken, along with a multitude of other issues fighting for my undivided attention.
Tax collectors breathing down my neck, medical collection agencies trying to get aggressive with me…believe me, there’s lots of shit. I’m sure you have similar problems of your own. I’m not unique.
I used to go fishing. I used to be able to eat spicy food. I used to go to a lot of metal shows. I used to be able to drink beer. I used to be able to eat pizza. I used to work out. I used to be stronger. I used to feel like the days ahead were more numerous than the days that have already passed. I used to sleep. I used to dream.