These days I feel buried. My life has change quite a bit lately, and along with some rather bad luck, I'm now sick with a sore throat, a lower back injury, and enough mental anguish at being trapped in the South that it takes every bit of strength to keep myself from literally losing it. I grimace at the flash-backs of places and events of the past as I compare them to the relativity of my current predicament (a bit of PTSD I suspect). I'm not actively trying to be depressed, in fact I'd love for it to be anything but that. Yet another day goes by, and here I am surrounded, at best, by a fog of numbness, or at worst: irrational loss of emotional and physical states. Truthfully, then there's the worst part of it all, not being able to tell anyone. Knowing attempts at explaining things to anyone leads them to just think you're nucking futz.
I'm not lamenting over yesterday, I'm completely broken both physically and emotionally. I've given all I have, and now I sit behind a computer screen just waiting. Waiting to be able to stand on my feet again, to walk, and run. While I realize it's completely irrational to believe coming home physically broke me, I can't help but feel almost everything I've experienced since I've come home is a part of a mechanism to capitulate the individual into assimilation, and "pound the nail that sticks out". The moment I walked back on U.S. soil, I heard the clink of the metaphorical chains around my ankles, and constant strain of insurmountable weight being dragged behind me.
I'm so tired of emotionally vesting myself into a process and environment which continuously aims at arresting my future to conform to some form of indentured slavery most Americans are content with calling freedom. My U.S. education, some twenty-to-thirty-times more expensive than studying at the ULB (or VUB) in Brussels, ensures my soul to to my lenders in exchange for an education. I'm happy for those content with a degree, followed by a job, and a house in the suburbs, but I want the degree to escape, to work for change, and make a difference; however, that's not what you're supposed to do. By asking for an education in American, I have become a slave to the laws that bind me to my loans. I mean, have you ever tested your freedom? Like tried to get a prescription for your back that you've researched, and gone in begging for help, only to told "we don't offer that!"? Have you ever tried to actually leave the country for anything more than a vacation? It's practically impossible without a higher degree and bundles of money. Despite this, my aspirations for doing so, have been laughed at, even ignored by advisers, friends, and family. The immediate prejudices of those who are content and happy with a typical existence become strikingly obvious the moment you admit your discontent with a lifestyle they consider ideal. If witch-trials still existed, I would have been outed by my own sister and burned at the stake ages ago, while simultaneously being held for high treason as my own mother claims I'm an enemy of the State.
I feel like I'm running up a slippery slope and at any point I'll slide back down, broken on the rocky depths of a pit of despair, in sight of hope, but not sure if I can reach it. This is rock bottom, this is where I'm at.
Right now I have nothing left. School at least kept my mind busy, but summer in the U.S., in a reality where there is not common language between my ideas and the people I live around is a mental labyrinth I'm just not sure how to live with. Acquaintances who've not seen me in a while, and who ask where I've been, used to be met with an enthusiastic laundry list of accomplishments, to which they had absolutely no comprehension of what I was saying. After having several people just walk away from me in mid-sentence I decided to respond to the question as "in Europe". Even this answer resorted to comments such as "Well Europe isn't the greatest country on earth, so I'm betting you're damn glad you're back eh?.", and several references to Belgium being in Africa. My latest method for answering where I've been is saying "just busy". My amazing wonderful life of traversing Europe has been reduced down to two words, and an internal dialogue of "F.U. buddy, Europe is a continent (not a country)!" Not that I'm purposely putting anyone down, it's just one of those human truths. I say this, they'll respond like that, and then our conversation serves absolutely no purpose what so ever. Even my mentors are perplexed by me. One paper I received back was marked by my professor as "I'm not sure how to grade this", and another seemed disdained by my French presentation on xenophobia. My favorite part of this reality is when you begin talking about something personal, and even your spouse starts talking over you and changes the subject.
I'm either the absolutely most retarded person on the face of this earth, or I've been exiled into a world which has no respect for alternative opinions. Considering the overwhelming scientific evidence of my minority status where I live, I suppose I should consider the likelihood that the first possibility is the correct one. Yet I hope that maybe there's something of value in all this. I'm hoping that despite my doctor's ignorance into inflammatory cures, I can find the right mixture of therapeutic concoctions of home chemicals to aid in my health. I'm hoping that I can live through another year of being kicked out of the elevator, because a plus size family of two believes they're entitled to ride the lift in privacy at the hotel we stayed at in Myrtle Beach. I hope I can keep my sanity as my state legislature passes a law that allows students to bring guns to school, or that invites prayer into the hallways. I hope I can keep the razor-blades and wrist cutting thoughts at bay while my government bans contraception for women, closes Planned Pregnancy centers, and decides to pass a law enabling fat-kids to be allowed to buy Big Gulps legally without the threat of intervention (State legislators banned cities from banning large soda drinks). I hope I can manage to see the humour of the local drunk on his John-Deere riding mower in the Wendy's drive-thru, while a nine passenger SUV with a Hello Kitty license plate honks and hates the fact my 3-cylinder sub-compact can't merge onto the highway with as much NASCAR zest as she. Last week I'm in Waffle House in a booth next to a table of two men with Bibles on their table and one digressing about Jesus. The other responds with a joke about water-boarding, and how that's how we baptize terrorists with freedom; they both chuckled. I'm going to try and hold my breath as the entire audience at my child's (public) school yells "Amen" during the Spring-Sing and as the students flute the Lord of The Dance in some attempt to fly under my secular radar, yet instantly tingles my internal Wikipedia search function as a gospel hymn written by Sydney Carter. I'm so sick of being told how to act, what to buy, and for people to stand behind some principles of freedom and unity for all, when they reject the very concept that you (might) want freedom over your own body, belief and the right to follow your internal compass.
Who am I?
Recently I had the opportunity to rehearse a scene from the play Closer, and the character Alice. On the final day of class, for exam, I stood there spitting in the face of Dan, who asked me who I am. Though the character's words (and actions) were inked already, it was myself who would scream back, realizing what was before me and what was ahead of me, and that I was that paper cut, razor-edge surface a side of a page of a book, often flipped between chapters, just waiting in life for what's next, but until the page is turned, I am no one.