There are very few things about this world that have the ability to make me happy. The bad will find its way into anything and crush the good. I have always had difficulties with processing my emotions. Frustration and disappointment have run rampant within me most of my life. I could be happy momentarily but the sadness will always swallow joy whole. I’ve become adept at smiling while everything crumbled inside me. My parents named me after a poet, which I’m fairly certain neither of them had ever read a poem in their miserable lives and the only thing I inherited from them was depression. Yeah, I’m running off the rails.
A song could make me happy. A kiss from a beautiful woman could make me happy. I wonder though, is that truly happiness or merely a distraction from my sadness?
My last psychoanalyst would ask me if I was suicidal and I would lie to her. Don’t misinterpret. It’s not that melodramatic. It’s less about the method and more about the outcome. I’ve admired the melancholy of Plath, the decisiveness of Hemingway and the defiance of Sands. I confess I hadn’t felt a connection to most things in the material world. Majority of the things and the people that I am associated with I feel nothing but condemnation for. I’ve always felt like an alien, an unwelcome visitor standing in the corner of a party full of strangers. I’ve struggled to find a connection to people. I found the majority of the bullshit people fawned over to be most unimpressive. I hated most things. I hated most people. This was an internal problem. I was told that was just me shutting down. That was me detaching. All in all, I wasn’t that unpleasant to be around despite my contempt, nor my distance or my stoicism.
I was healthy but had never felt sicker. Food was undesirable. A morsel of the most delectable cuisine, even my favorite dish might as well be a plate of dog shit. I seemed to be sustaining on coffee and toast. I was perpetually disgusted by people’s actions and words. Repulsive behavior and a word they can not keep. Sleep is another thing that humans need to function that’s beyond my reach. I can’t distinguish between thoughts and dreams. Both of which are mostly unpleasant and yet I am capable of laughter. I could brave a smile. You would never know by looking at me how much sadness dwelled within my being. Not that it or I mattered. Pity was unwanted.
I have been rather unhinged as of late, although no one knew me well enough to notice. A double edged sword as sharp as the razor I carried in my pocket. I wouldn’t dare let anyone in to really know me. Been there, fuck that. Too big a margin for error. Too big a risk for failure. I had no faith in anything, especially people.
It was imperative that I kept moving like a scarred up great white shark. I banged out push ups in the middle of the night to stave off the anxiety in the boiler room of a luxury apartment building in midtown Manhattan. The clicks and hisses of the boilers acted as a metronome and kept pace for me. I didn’t worry about numbers. I went until failure. The water bugs cheered me on. The mice squeaked at me with their adulation. The Black Dahlia Murder ripped it up in my ear buds.
“I never trust, I never rest,” I recited the lyrics. Ain’t that the motherfucking truth. Trevor Strnad, the lyricist and vocalist for the melodic death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder was a wordsmith. While he wielded a vast vocabulary, it was the simplistic candor of those lyrics that resonated with me. I never trust. I never rest. Straightforward and irrefutable, it would become my maxim.
Marooned on this lousy island. A dog-eared copy of Duino Elegies from my Austrian namesake rested on the old military cot I’ve been sleeping on, or trying to sleep on rather, for the last month. My bed was six feet long, two feet wide and 20 inches above the floor. A general issue folding cot that Gerry acquired somewhere, consisting of olive green nylon with an aluminum frame. Lightweight. Portable. During these long nights I felt like I existed only in an old cold war bunker but the truth was if the world was going to end I’d be relieved, if nuclear annihilation was imminent, I’d rather be on the street. I wouldn’t want to risk surviving. Then again, maybe a Twilight Zone episode where I’m the only human alive would be better for my mental health. No one left to disappoint me but myself, and I will disappoint.
Nothing has ever made me truly happy. I’ve had moments of happiness but they are fleeting and overshadowed by negative thoughts and an expanding depression. Those thoughts caused me great embarrassment and that is why I’d never tell you what I’m thinking or how I’m really feeling, not in person, not over the phone, not ever. If I was going to be completely honest with you, you and I would not like what I have to say, you more than me. I don’t like this planet or the lion’s share of its inhabitants. Everything was a disappointment to me. My own feelings were a let down. The anger and aggression that had grown within me wanted to stick a knife in everything. I was self destructive. All of the boxes of childhood trauma were checked. Difficulty trusting? Check. Anxiety? Check. Feelings of isolation? Double check. Poor self esteem? Check. Irritability? Check. Increased thoughts about death? Check. Loss of interest in normal activities? Check. But what do they mean by normal? Who set those standards?
Another set of push ups tallied. My shift started soon. Someone’s garbage banged down the chute and into the compactor. The chute fed trash compactor and the dual boilers were in the sublevel of my new, and hopefully, temporary bedroom. You had to check the compactor regularly, otherwise if the garbage bag got too big, you had to haul it up a hellishly steep and narrow staircase. The hydraulic system was operated by a sensor, which triggers the ram and compacts the garbage with the force of 3000 psi, and feeds into bags. The whole operation took 30 seconds, then you had to manually separate the trash and tie off into individual bags. I knew a few people I’d like to feed to the compactor.
I looked strangely calm on the surface. It was in my mind that I was agitated and frenzied. Fuck my family. Fuck my friends. Fuck my neighborhood. Fuck my meds. Fuck everything. No use for any subtleties. No sugarcoating. No pacification. I don’t want anyone to know me or know anything about me. That is the perk about being a doorman in New York City. No one here gave a fuck about me, that’s understood, and there are no misunderstandings. I’m pretty much invisible to these people of great self-importance. I don’t mind if you forget me. No one at 534 E. 57th street wants to hear about my abandonment issues or my post traumatic stress disorder, nor do I want their unsullied shoulders to cry on.
No one cared about your feelings. No one cared about what troubled you. Why should they? The only upside there was no pretense with these people. They will never act like they care because they don’t. We’re on the level. We had our roles and we kept it moving. Just whatever you do, don’t get in their way, they will trample you, or at least try to.
I didn’t want my face to touch the battleship gray floor of the boiler room when I did my calisthenics. The floor and the walls were just about ready for a new coat. A yearly task. No matter how many times I’ve mopped it, I knew it wasn’t clean. I couldn’t help but see the metaphor in that. I just want it to be over. What is it? I guess I meant it to be everything. I didn’t want to die as much as I just wanted everything else to die. I longed for the world to end. I wanted Yellowstone to erupt, I wanted every fault line to crack wide open and chug us all. I wanted pyrocaustic flows and nuclear winters to engulf us. Let Earth become the new Mars. I’m named after Rainer Maria Rilke. He died 80 years ago in Switzerland. Good for him. Lucky bastard.
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