Tuesday, September 6, 2011
This is my contribution to the It Gets Better Project.
I had a dream a few nights ago.
Rarely do I put any stock into dreams. People interpret them, write them down, try to determine if they are predictions for the future or visions of lives past. Personally, I believe them to be brain vomit. I think we store a lot of unnecessary crap up in there, and our brains are just browsing through forgotten tabs, left open, old documents on the desktop, half written. Delete delete delete. Oh and morning-after-a-roaring-drunk dreams are your brain smashing control, alt, delete until your keyboard catches fire.
This particular dream, this dream I had a few nights ago, almost died in my brain along with thousands of other forgotten dreams trampled to death by my profound exhaustion. I've always envied people with excess amounts of energy, those who experienced sugar highs, people who actually WANT to get on a fucking treadmill and run, grinning like madmen as the wind whistles between their teeth, grinning till their teeth crack. Puberty crawled up my ass and died when I was barely 11, and when it died, it decided to take all my crazy little-kid energy with it. Remember being able to play freeze tag for 7 hours, until your socks were full of bush-stickers and the lightning bugs came out? I don't think I experienced the sensations of sweat OR shortness of breath until after puberty. I could run for days. Suddenly, 11, I can't run anymore and I've got fat pockets hanging from my chest and I'm fucking TIRED forever.
A bug pulled me out of the tired. I felt a bug on my arm, and, being an insanely light sleeper (seriously, I've had the sensation of my own eyelashes on my cheek awaken me. I also realize that it's weird that I'm constantly tired but so easily awakened. I blame most of my bad teenage decisions on chronic insomnia.)...I woke up. No bug. I swear it was there.
It was the dream I'd been having that was important, anyway.
I was in the car. My father (who committed suicide in 2005) was utterly drunk, raving and screaming obscenities at myself and my family. I knew my family was in the car, but I didn't turn around to look at them, because I was helping my father drive. Every now and again, I'd grab the wheel, turn it right, mumble something to help my dad stay on the road. It was pitch black outside, and we were on a tree-lined road, weaving dangerously close to the scattered trunks. Eventually my dad decided he was tired of driving, and put me in charge outright. I started to steer the car...and the road got smaller. The light got brighter. Everything disappeared, and I was suddenly steering a bike. I was on a bike on a narrow dirt road surrounded by high green grass and late afternoon sunshine. I was in control, and alone, and relieved.
This struck a chord because, to some degree, this actually happened.
It was sometime in high school. I have a famously shitty memory when it comes to timelines, so I don't know the year. All I know is that my dad died a few years after this happened. My mom was at work, and my dad was eyeballs-deep in his addiction to prescription medication. I was desperate for money (my parents were constantly poor and I thought that "allowances" were a fairy tale that only happened on tv, like unicorns or non-alcoholic fathers), so I wanted a goddamn job. I'd had a few crappy jobs, one from which I was fired for stealing (I'd "damage out" items to give to my friends as gifts), the other I liked, but didn't pay well enough (life guarding). I'd applied for a job as a cater-waiter, and it was rumored that they paid EIGHT DOLLARS AN HOUR. I wanted that job, I NEEDED THAT JOB. The interview was a ways away, and I couldn't really walk. I needed a ride. I asked my dad.
My dad said yes. Popped some pills, made some coffee to help himself "wake up", and got into the car.
I spent the entire car ride praying that we wouldn't die, and occasionally making an especially loud noise to startle my father into half-consciousness.
His meds made him drowsy. Most of the multitude of prescription pill bottles my father kept over the kitchen sink had icons of little sleepy eyeballs or crossed-out martini glasses plastered on the side, indicating that one may experience drowsiness and should not imbibe alcohol while taking this medication. My father did both, in large quantities.
He was weaving slightly between the lines, eyes half open, trying to clutch his coffee cup and steer. When his eyes drooped enough, almost closed, I'd clap, or say HEY DAD. His eyes would pop open, about half-mast, and I knew we'd be alright for another thirty seconds or so. It never occurred to me that he might pass out altogether, as he was wont to do. The Christmas before he died, he took so much medication that we couldn't wake him up with full-fledged slaps to the face, and he was snoring so loud it sounded like he would gulp down his own uvula and choke to death. I just prayed that we'd make it to the interview on time, in one piece, and that my mom wouldn't be pissed that I'd let my dad drive like that.
We made it. I got the job. We made it home.
I envied kids with complete, mostly-sane families. In 2004, if you'd given me a choice between a VW bug full of 100 dollar bills and burritos, or my father's health and sanity, I would've chosen the latter, hands down. I just wanted to be able to get a ride to a job interview, to find my way, to make some money to buy some manic-panic hair dye and jeans that weren't from fucking Kmart. I wanted a life that I could control, that wasn't cradled in the hands of a man who so hated himself, who wanted so badly to die, and whom I so desperately loved.
Through that dream, I'd realized, although it had taken WAY fucking longer than I'd preferred, I'd gotten just that.
I have a bike, bought for me by my fiancee. Her name is Tracy. She's crazy smart, completely gorgeous, and makes fun of me for being vain. She likes Simon Pegg and cats, she dresses up for Halloween like I like, and makes really good fried rice. We ride bikes together on the weekends, when it's not too hot. We're getting married, probably outside, under the trees, like I'd like. If I could take a snapshot of my life, on bikes with my gorgeous soon-to-be-wife, and hold it up to that 14 year old kid...if only. If only I could give her hope.
It gets Better. So much fucking better. Hang on, trust yourself, work hard for what you want. Money doesn't grow on trees. Figure out how to budget, and STICK with it. Do the math after taxes, figure out how much money you need to make in order to pay rent AND utilities AND your phone bill. Realize that, if you are born poor, you may stay poor for a while. I had no income other than by donating plasma and keeping a part-time job for over 8 months, and I still made rent. Get out of your shit town, your shitty life, get away from the things that hurt you. Don't settle for people who don't love you like you are the SUN and MOON and STARS. Unless they carve your name in their arm or break your windshield when you piss them off. Those are the crazies. Know the difference.
It's going to get better, and my fucking god, is it worth the wait.