Finally got around to properly covering up the spots on the walls where I’d laid holes. One hole created by a flying ball thrown more in anger at the girl who’d just walked out the door than thrown for the dog in play, as was later stated. Another hole created in an equally drunken fashion demonstrating how I used to mosh to my roommate. These were properly repaired and covered, just waiting the right amount of popcorn spray and proper color of paint to be hidden for good. Then, one night while drunk and completely fed up with the bass experience provided by the neighbor next door, a hole in the wall with a fist—the truly proper way to create a hole in your wall—drunk, angry w/fist—no bullshit roughhousing, playing, kinda done in fun, kinda done in anger—no…a clear and definitive message of what you really wanted to do to someone’s face.
With the carpet losing all its stains from my forays into oil painting, m, and careless stomping about with muddy shoes, the apt is starting to look and feel like it did when d and I first moved in. I’ve hauled the small dining table back into the front bedroom, where it was when d had her larger table out in the dining area. Last night, upon completion of this task, and with the smell of cleanliness and someone’s humming a/c unit outside my window, my psyche started trying to get me to flash back to Summer 2005 when we’d first moved in here.
Of course, I’ve spent way too many hours of my life wandering around in the past, letting it soothe my blood like a bad narcotic. I mused about it only in the way one might muse for an intellectual curiosity — how strange the combinations needed to put one properly in the place of the past.
Why does the past always seem so much better to us, even as we have clear memories of loathing our lives at the same times we now yearn to return to?
Any living in the moment inevitably includes moments of waiting for something to happen. Even the most active, plugged-in people have moments of waiting in traffic, waiting for the show to start, the friend to arrive, etc.
Strangely enough, it is in those moments that time slows down. Sure, the clock appears to be faithful, and the rest of the world isn’t proclaiming the mystery of the incredibly long last hour. But, you, the waiter know that Time itself has slowed. Sitting at your desk at 3PM on a Friday, one hour equals one workday. Sitting in church as a child, one hour equaled an entire week—a really boring one.
But, in your delicious descents into the past to stimulate the pleasure places of the brain you find yourself only touching the highs and the lows. You hit the highs again and long to return, then hit the lows so that the present acts like morphine to sooth the self-induced pain brought on by reliving the painful memory.
Somewhere in the history of my existence, pre age four, I found I could successfully stimulate the pleasure places of my brain by bringing a perceived traumatic moment to a fever pitch, and finding release when mommy and other larger humans in the house came running. In other words, I learned how pain, manufactured or not, could reward the pleasure places in the brain as much as pleasure can—by receiving all the extra attention, food, sugar, salt, fat, touch, soothing voices, etc. heaped upon me by well-meaning individuals who didn’t realize the kind of Pavlovian creature they were developing.
My life became a quest for those who would validate me when I lurched into this state of mind.
By the age of eleven or twelve, I realized I had to be crafty about it. Older adult males despise a boy who throws himself into states of helplessness and self-induced trauma. Even females, in spite of their maternal instincts, soon tire of such a child. I figured out that in order to be successful, I had to win the confidence of those around me first, get them deep in conversation, and then spring upon them some slight or hurt a fellow human had wrought upon me once, in a gambit to win their pity.
Fast forward to May of 2008 – old schoolmate friends are in cities far away, wrestling with problems of their own, and no longer accessible to get them deep into conversations where pity can be sought and won. Mother is dead. Father has left off his last vestiges of trying to fill a role as father-to-child. mce friends seem just as far away, albeit most are still in the same city. d walks out of my life for good. uw people are being scared off by me, they see right through me and my sneaky efforts to win their friendships and confidence just to indulge me in frequent mini-pity parties.
I grow numb with shock and confusion. I don’t know who I am or where I am anymore. I lash out in anger at things that no sane man of our society should. I am constantly desirous of retreating into the past, or trying to embark upon jaunts into wildly impossible careers and futures that just aren’t me. Basically, I’m reaching and clawing at anything I can grab hold of that will reinstate the once-prized cycle of “be my friend so you can see me turn into a deranged victim and then throw me a pity party” way of walking through life.
On one level, it seems so easy to just say something like “you were a bit of a mama’s boy, and liked to play the victim for the attention,” but the thing is, I was hearing that almost my whole life. No, this was a much more subtle game I crafted—seeking out the friendships and relationships that would allow me to obtain this kind of pleasure-center stimulation and release even as I knew no sane person would ever connect with me if they knew this was what I was up to. Further, I didn’t even really understand this was going on while I was doing it, all the while thinking that I was just as well-developed as anyone else my age, give or take a few years for social maturity.