posted on 6.22.20 / posted in After

When your sea change comes in a bottle

If my life was a home improvement show, it would be early footage, when the crew finds asbestos. If you were binging a few episodes, it would be the part the host told you about during the intro to the next episode to explain why “in our last episode” there was snow on the ground and now everyone is walking around in short sleeves. It would tie together why they’d only talked about gutting the kitchen and now it’s stripped down and framed back out.

They don’t show asbestos removal and remediation because it’s not good television.

I am not good television.

Maybe that’s why I write in this un-promoted blog. At some point I’ll understand why I wanted to make it “secretly public.” To leave a record for later maybe. I know another reason though.

I find things, especially now that I don’t read the news and have left social media. I find things with no claps on Medium that I love, wonder for a moment why I’m the first clap, and realize, oh, this isn’t good television either. A part of me wants to be found like that.

Some of the worst television posts are so brave they get claps anyway, maybe even go viral. I’d love to pull that off but I won’t, I think because I’d love to pull that off.

What’s the hardest part? For me it’s turning off all the noise and listening for the sounds that remain.

I’m a different person than I was 4 years ago. I know everyone is, maybe even everyone feels like that. Or some, at least. I mean it in a more literal sense though.

My brain worked one way for 42 years. A bunch of doctors plugged me into some machines and told me it wasn’t working right, but not to worry, take two of these and call us in the morning. The memory of my first night of deep sleep is pretty vivid. It felt like the end of a very long day.

My brain took a few months of deep sleep to get caught up. A lot of behind the scenes remediation was going on. I didn’t feel different for a few months, and I can’t put a precise date on when I realized I was walking around in someone else’s skin.

The present day me is some Phineas Gage type shit. I hope I’m not an asshole now. The guy I am thinks with the memories of the guy I used to be and tends to think the reverse. He seems like an asshole. So much of my recapitulations come with the question to past me, “What the fuck did you do that for?”

My screaming answer is always, “Because I wasn’t sleeping!”

The stranger part is everyone who has known me for more than five years, and counted me as a friend, liked that guy. They liked him so much that I have to parade his corpse around everyday so they’ll see me. I wave his hand with mine by Weekend-at-Bernie-ing his arm. Even my parents can’t tell which one is me. I’m mostly unseen and this stinky zombie is my only way to interface with anyone who knew me before sleep.

The exceptions are people who’ve met me in the last 4 years, but those relationships are strange too. I don’t mean to keep people at arm’s length, but I know I do. I have to make sense of everyone. So much of my past seems “dark” and it feels almost dishonest for the newbies not to have met that guy.

The hardest part is letting go of potentially everything. Just that. No biggie.

I’m miserable. It feels amazing to admit that. I’m not in a constant state of gloom, have tons more energy than ever before, and I don’t want to jump off a bridge (but do please keep asking me that every session doctor… I know. You have to.), but life hasn’t been that much fun for most of the new me. It’s kinda nice that we have Trump and his pandemic and societal collapse. I’d be pissed to go through this if it was nice outside.

I would rather have all my limbs removed than go back to being the guy who didn’t sleep, but there’s no denying anymore he was happier. He had 42 years of experience being him. He was worn in. He’d learned to live without sleep and his identity was tied up in the broken bits. He was miserable, but he was spectacular at telling himself otherwise. I don’t want to rush to conclusions, but that might be the only reason he was happier. Ignorance.

Misery is the wrong word. I mean it in the sense of hard work that leaves you achey for days. Renovating an old house is full of “miserable” projects. Ever removed lead paint from a 140-year-old doorframe? There are probably at least 4 layers of clumpy paint and it’s hours of scraping and stripping and sanding and worrying your respirator isn’t good enough and you’ve poisoned yourself through your tender watering eyeballs. That’s the kind of miserable I mean. Hard but not difficult work, that’s going to seem to take for fucking ever.