The first thing I remember are the kids. This was at the library. Hispanic/American Indian looking. Beautiful little kids. An older one, wearing a white shirt I believe, looking after two younger boys, maybe his brothers or relatives, or something like that. One of the younger kids had holes in his jeans, in the knees. I wondered for a little bit if they were homeless, because I wondered where their parents were, or their guardians. It looked to me like no one was watching out for them, looking after them, because the kids were everywhere. It resonated with my current feelings of abandonment.
I wanted to talk to them. It was a need I had, I felt. I wanted them to feel safe. And because I wanted them to feel safe, I decided not to talk to them. Instead, when I made the decision to be around the kids but not be around the kids, I sat on a bench directly across from them, separated by a great distance, a chasm. This decision was made because I was curious about their situation, I wanted to offer guidance if possible, and I didn’t want them to feel scared at my intrusion. I didn’t want them to feel threatened by an outsider.
I remember when the older kid with the white shirt told the two boys to sit down. He was in this situation their guardian, even though he a little young himself to be watching them in a cutthroat city like Salt Lake. The younger kid with the holes in his jeans fought back, cried slightly out of frustration when he lost and had to sit down on the bench against his will. I literally felt the emotion from miles away, the frustration. I was struck by how gentle the boys were. It made me feel isolated in a way I can’t easily describe.
They hung around their bench for a little while, and then started chasing away the pigeons. I debated telling them to be nicer to the pigeons next time, like a Jain monk would. I wanted to tell them that, tell them something. Because, I wanted to know, what their story was. Were they homeless? Were they street kids? Was their family life unstable? Was someone there for them? Were they happy? Who was watching out for them?
But, I ultimately never found out the answer to this question, because I didn’t have the courage, I lost the nerve. When I intervene with kids, it’s always a catastrophe, because my motives are misconstrued. So, I just let the kids do what they were going to do, and left to go get food. Pizza, to be precise.
But right when I crossed the street, I wanted to go back. I watched as the kids went back into the library. The whole time, I was thinking of Sartre’s radical freedom: Can I make the choice with a gun to my head? Am I free? Am I really free? Can I exercise that freedom?
So, I thought I would try one more time, feeling ashamed for not checking on the well-being of the kids but knowing that society has their hooks in me, they’ve conditioned me to stay away from children, because to them, you can only have bad intent if you want to check on the welfare of other kids. It’s the American way of life to fear kids: You don’t talk to children in American culture, even if they might need support.
I went back, but they were long gone. Feeling melancholy, nostalgic, disappointed, hurt—I went to go get pizza.
My therapist earlier that day did a number on me. I suppose it will be the last time I see her, I don’t know, it depends. She wouldn’t let me talk about my identity: the fact that I identify with homosexuals, and have desires of my own. That maybe, I’d like someone to be with me. A partner, perhaps. I assume it is her beliefs. She said my “identity” isn’t everything, whatever that may mean. Anyway, I told her that I fell out of bed the night before, literally shaking my head back and forth in panic amidst sleep, trying to shake the painful thoughts out of my mind as I struggled to dream and struggle to think, and as I suffered. It was a visceral experience, I assumed physical evidence that what I feel isn’t just in my head, as I fell off the bed and ended up on the other side of the room in a moment of random violence. She said that doesn’t have to be me (a kid falling out of bed). Why? It is me! It was literally me. She went on to say that I could just toss paranoia aside, when I described its onset around my friends. I’m in control. Yes, I’m in control, but paranoia serves its function, and I’m not the type to deny its existence: We obviously have different ideas of self-control and control.
You can’t just throw paranoia away like trash. It’s a part of me, and I own it. It isn’t trash.
She gave me a propaganda packet, on how I can just … I don’t even remember, it was so stupid. I gave up at that point.
I went to get pizza, asking the service guy, which pizza was good for neurotransmitters. He said, none of them. Taken aback (strange, when I expected such a flippant response), I told him I just wanted cheese pizza. Sometime along the way he offered vegan, I told him I’m vegetarian so for now I’m fine with cheese.
I ate, poured on the parmesan cheese, felt alone. Thinking about those fucking kids at the library.
The day before, I went to Target, walking around like crazy, walking around quickly, fast, looking for trouble, paranoia. Looking for conflict. Not knowing what to do. Singing to Transit of Venus by Three Days Grace. I ran into a group of boys playing in the toy aisle, some game. One of the boys, wearing a green shirt with an olive complexion, looked up at me proudly but with some intimidation as I passed him. I thought it was cool, so I told him, “Nice style.” It was rushed, forced, my comment, as I hurried away, but I knew I needed to say that or I wouldn’t be able to hold my peace. My conscience wouldn’t be able to rest.
Because I didn’t want to scare the boys at the library, so I left them alone. But I thought I was weak. I didn’t have will. Any will. Not anymore. Nietzsche would have been ashamed.
I went home. My case manager came by, as I’d texted her a few hours before, saying I had suicidal thoughts. That my therapist triggered me again.
When she arrived, I read a passage from a piece I wrote on sexual violence (dick pounding the mouth …), and talked about Death’s Mirror, how you can make choices with this philosophy, this concept, contort the minds of others, make them think something is happening when it isn’t. It’s real. All the possibilities, and you don’t know which possibility is the best one, the one to choose. Too many paths.
I told her about Shekel, an innocent adolescent kid, and his sexual adventures with a transhuman that had an engine for part of her body and sucked up coal or some shit. This was from the novel The Scar.
I was looking for meaning, looking for purpose: Looking for something to justify my life. I told her that I feel like people want to hurt me. I feel like people want to hurt me. She understood. Said some people probably do. This speaks to my deep-rooted paranoia. I think people want to hurt me.
I told her that mental illness is an STD. What I meant is, you spread mental illness when you have sex. It was self-deprecating, raw, hurtful to myself, but it felt true in the moment, because they have stupid fucking condoms at North Valley Behavioral Health. It’s stupid and contradictory. Are we just merely, disease? I told her I pour out disease, I am disease, disease comes from my pores, disease: These (in reference to an empty pill bottle in my living room).
I was suicidal yesterday.
The day before I was struggling to balance my mania and unrest. And stay normal.
And all around, it’s been a tough year and I don’t know why it’s so hard to keep my tenuous grasp of reality and get a grip on my mind. It just seems to get harder and harder. And it really hurts.
Maybe because I’ve been triggered into my manic episodes so many times by shitty circumstance. Psychosis. Paranoia. All of that. All of that fun stuff.
The kids are my nuance. They just exist. They are subtle, living their own lives. The boys were happy and that was enough. But they were also full of feeling. Maybe it’s not so much that I think boys are happy because I see happiness. Maybe I think they are happy because despite the pain and emotion they may feel, there is something real and genuine about how they represent themselves, how they express themselves: because, they don’t even try. They are raw and genuine. Always: all the time. I can’t think of a kid I’ve seen just in passing younger than ten that’s never been raw and genuine. The boys always seem happy to me because they are so real. Their lives are meaningful, they haven’t lost their innocence yet, even though they are thrown in this violent world. My friend Preston warned me not to romanticize childhood, because we think it’s this great phase of happiness in life, with no pain, but … I’m not sure that’s my complete view. I think, it’s the nuance of the kids that gets me, that hurts every time. I have nothing to do with them. I am not anything to them.
There is simply their nuance.