Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.: The Past

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Past

I did a lot of thinking today. I spent most of my work day lost in thought as I performed the mindless, physical tasks. Well, I spend most of the days like that, but even more so today. I was just thinking better, or something, clearer. It was one of those days I have once in a great while where I think about my past, and remember things I had forgotten.

I realized today, that one of the (many) reasons I like Melissa so much is that she reminds me of what I've lost. Of how I used to be. Melissa is often silly, and goofy, and makes her coworkers laugh. I used to be like this, years ago. Back when I was in school, I was always well known. I wasn't popular, no one liked me much, but everyone knew me, because I was so weird and funny. Sometimes, people I didn't even know would come up to me in the hall and say things like "Do something weird," or, "Do the chipmunk laugh." Even as far back as elementary school I would get in trouble every day for talking too much, and being too loud. Such a far cry from my present state of complete and total shyness and timidness.

1998 was the year that a large part of me died. Well, part of it was in 1999, but most of it was 1998. In all it was a period of about a year. I usually refer to this year span as "the longest year of my life."

I graduated from high school in 1998, and most of my friends, except for Chris, either joined the military, or went off to college, so I didn't see them much anymore. This caused me to retreat even further into the world of online chatrooms, which I had been battling an obsession with for two or three years. My main obsession was an AOL chat room called "Witty." It was full of great people. Regulars who were always in there, and I became great friends with many of them. It wasn't your regular AOL chat room, the Witty regulars were all a little more intelligent than your usual chat room inhabitants. They discouraged people talking in all internet slang abbreviations and A/S/L checks, and things like that, so the idiocy was kept to a minimum. It was here that I met Melissa. I don't remember exactly when, it was sometime in 1998, I don't remember if it was before or after I graduated. We became very good friends almost immediately. I had a crush on her even back then, but she had a boyfriend, but we still were good friends. Then, a few months later, about the time I went off to college, she was going to lose her internet access for a few months, I don't remember exactly why. This was another major blow, I lost another one of my best friends. It was about this time I started getting really depressed.

I went to college, and this was a MAJOR blow. I'd always been shy around people, even though I was always goofing off and being the class clown in the past, I was still shy in certain situations, especially when it came to one-on-one human interaction. Goofing off for a class full of people I could handle. But trying to talk to just one person made me nervous. It had never really been much of a problem before, though, but when I went to college, it got out of control. As time went by, I kept getting more and more nervous and scared. There were just too many people around, even though I was going to a small college. I started to get panic attacks. I'd skip class and just sit in my car for hours, or sit in the library, in the stacks where there weren't any people, and read. Anything so that I wouldn't have to go to class, or walk through the people-filled halls. Then I got so bad I couldn't even work up the courage to go into the library anymore.

And at the same time I was fighting this crippling social phobia, other things were going on which just added to my mental strain. Me and Melissa were writing real letter to each other, but I hate writing letters for some reason, just like I hate talking on the phone, so we only exchanged a couple of letters. Well, she wrote me four, but I only sent on or two. I'd sit there in the library hiding, and try to write a letter to her, but I just couldn't and this depressed me even more, because I thought she would think I hated her or something, and I would lose her as a friend permanently.

Also, I was failing all my classes, mostly because I never went to them, and, even when I did, I couldn't pay attention because I had so much more on my mind, or couldn't stay awake. I only slept a couple of hours a night, because my chat room dependency was getting worse and worse. I would sit in the chat room for hours and hours every night, talking to pretty much the only friends I had.

After I lost contact with Melissa, I fell in love with one of my coworkers at Carl's Jr. Her name was Genie. I was very in love with her, but, like always, I never said anything to her, I never told her I liked her, or asked her out. We were friends, and talked to each other a lot at work, but that was all we were. Then, she started dating a guy that also worked there at Carl's, who was also my friend. His name was Tim. This made me even more depressed, but I didn't give up hope that maybe they'd break up or something, and someday I'd have a chance with her. In time, I would come to regret ever hoping that something would cause them to separate.

Then, it all came to a head at once. The strain of all these problems, especially the social phobia, was too much to bear. I was in danger of having a mental breakdown at any moment. So I finally decided that I would have to drop out of college. I went to my mom, and told her for the first time, about my depression and social phobia, I'd never told anyone before, not even my best friend Chris. I told my mom, and told her about my social anxiety problem, and that I was going to drop out of college and start going to a psychiatrist. She didn't really understand my problem, and still doesn't (whenever I try to talk about how shy I am around people, her answer is, "Just stop, don't be that way."), but she was supportive anyway. So I dropped out of college, this was in early November. I never did see a psychiatrist, because as soon as I dropped out, I started feeling a little better, and I hated the idea of going to one because I knew all they'd do is give me pills.

And then, towards the end of November, the shit really hit the fan.

Friday, November 27th, 1998. The day after Thanksgiving. The biggest shopping day of the year, and also one of the worst days of the year for automobile accidents. On this day, two of my friends, including the woman I loved, became a statistic.

Me and my mom and sister had all been out shopping most of the day too, and, as we were driving back to Purcell, going south on I-35, we drove over a spot where you could tell there had been a horrible wreck recently. The road itself was actually melted in one place. Then, when we got home, I got the phone call. Genie and Tim had been in a horrible wreck. Tim was dead, and Genie probably wouldn't make it. It turned out the spot we had driven over was where the wreck had happened. They were driving northbound, and had a blow out, and spun out of control, they went clear across the median, into the southbound lanes, where they spun into a large van going full highway speed. Genie wasn't wearing her seatbelt, was thrown something like 20 feet through the windshield. Ironically, this is what saved her. Tim, who was wearing his seatbelt, was still trapped in the car when it burst into flames. He burned to death, and was burned so badly they had to use dental records to identify him.

Up until they re-paved the highway just a year or so ago, you could still see the burn mark on the highway. It was an almost daily reminder for me of the accident. Also, someone kept flowers there in the median of the highway at all time for many years. I don't know who, some of Tim's family, I guess.

I went to Tim's funeral, and I also went to see Genie in the hospital every day. She did make it through, but she was in the hospital until December 18, the day before my birthday. I went and saw her every day, and I would sit there for hours. Even the days she was unconscious, or so doped up on morphine she barely even knew who she was. Even when she was conscious, she'd still be so doped up I had to help her eat. Most days I was the only visitor she had, her family hardly ever even came to see her. Partly because it was about an hour's drive to even get to the hospital she was at. But I drove it every day, and sat with her every day.

I felt like a horrible person. Because in the back of my mind, a voice kept telling me, "Hey, she's single now, just give her a couple of months to get over the loss of Tim, and then make your move." I'd tell that voice to shut up, and stop thinking things like that, but it kept coming back.

Of course, this made me slip farther and farther into depression. She got out of the hospital on the 18th, and I spent the next couple of weeks in a state of deep depression. I would drive around aimlessly in my car for hours, listening to depressing music, and thinking depressing thoughts. Actually, it wasn't exactly aimless. Most of the time was spent driving around Lexington, where Genie lived, trying to get up the courage to visit her at her home. I was just biding my time, remaining her friend, until the day I thought it was safe to ask her out. And then she shocked and surprised me. Just a couple of days after she got out of the hospital, some other guy at Carl's asked her out for New Years, and she accepted. I couldn't believe it. It was too soon after Tim's death. I was shocked by this, and also depressed further by the fact that it wasn't me who was going out with her.

I spent the next few months in a state of deep depression, and seriously thought about killing myself on several occasions, but never had the nerve to go through with it. Which made me feel even worse. I was such a coward. I was too afraid to talk to people, too afraid to ask girls out even after being in love with them for months. I was even too afraid to kill myself even though I wanted to.

Over time I started getting a little better, but I battled depression for a couple of years. I still have the social phobia, and very occasionally small bouts of depression, but I'm much better than I was then, at least when it comes to the depression.

But still, over the last year or so I find myself becoming more and more detached from the world. I almost never leave the apartment except to go to work or my parents' house, and when I do leave the apartment, I walk around like a zombie, with a blank expression on my face, not looking at anything or anyone. In fact, the last couple of months, I've noticed that my eyesight is going, probably because my eyes are getting weak. Whenever I'm out of the house, I never focus on anything, I stare blankly ahead, operating on a sort of fuzzy peripheral vision. The only things I ever really focus on and look at are books or computer screens for hours on end, which strains my eyes further. When I'm not safe in my apartment, I am silent and expressionless, looking at nothing. I have no personality. If someone says hi to me, I either ignore them, or grunt out a small "hi," or "ok," if they ask me how I'm doing. It gets worse every day, I withdraw farther and farther into myself with each passing week.

My spirit has been totally crushed. Anyone who looks into my eyes can see this.

I wish I could be like I used to be. I wish I could be like Melissa.

I wish I could be human.