Updated: Feb 11, 2020
It’s just beneath the surface. Today you’re okay, but it’s tentative. When you’re doing well, it’s never well enough to build up a buffer—just one shit experience from bottom. Nothing has happened just now, and you feel mostly fine, but you’re aware of how fragile this sugar sculpture is.
Scroll. Reread the messages you’ve sent. Wait. Scroll. Message someone a quick “thinking of you,” fishing. Scroll. Think about messaging another friend. Stop because he’s a guy, and you can’t muster the energy for small talk. Keep Scrolling. Message your father a quick “thinking of you,” but you aren’t. Communication is different than connection.
You hesitate to reach out to old friends (can you even name one?) because maybe you’re too intense or too vulnerable, maybe. No one wants you to crack your soul open like that. It’s supposed to be an exchange, not just foisting your broken heart on the table to examine. Fair enough.
Your father messages you back a novella. You give him one line answers and leave him on read.
Load your save game. Hack, slash, level up, the illusion of progress. Role-playing because escape, obviously. Television because escape. Love stories and restless fingers because escape. Scroll old girlfriend’s photos. Nothing to comment on or even miss. Nothing wrong with your life, really, except that you’re in it, and it never goes away. Sleep used to be the escape but a grown man can’t just neglect his responsibilities for days at a time—have a child to rear (ruleset to enforce) and a wife to husband (ruleset to abide by).
Take some personality tests. Enneagram, MBTI, Which Character from Fleabag are you? (Hot Priest, by the way). Read about your results. Find forums full of “people like you.” Despise them. Read about “people like you” in their unhealthy states. Skim past the phrase “Suicide is a real possibility.” Think about that sentence 10 times in the next 24 hours.
You are not suicidal. Never really have been. But you told your counselor a few days earlier that you were beginning to understand how sad turns to hopeless turns to despair, and you start to consider this word anew. Scroll.
In the back of your mind, faintly, “Keep Swimming,” from Finding Nemo. You can’t recall seeing the movie. Might have been from some meme or another. Okay. Fine. I’ll swim. Scroll. But to where and what for and, scrolling, with whom?
At work, you glide. No effort and no lift. Not nearly the teacher you could be but good enough to not attract attention from anyone that could fire me. Scroll. Your relationships with students suffer for it. Some worry about you, others are disappointed at your change: “I thought you were different.” I thought so, too.