TW: suicide ideation
Do you ever get those episodes of not knowing what to do with your life, thinking that this is the last season of it?
Is Netflix canceling my life during the second season ‘cause no one cares to watch? Are the scriptwriters fired for adding too many mental illnesses to the plot?
Feeling like a scrambled egg when there’s nothing really wrong; being disorganized, without a structure nor the ability to focus on the things that you know you could be doing but just can’t get that dump truck out of the quicksand that is your bed?
Sorry, I don’t wanna sound like an Adderall commercial so I’ll stop here. But really, I was rolling around in bed for hours. Then I was like ‘Hey, move bitc-’.
So I did move, but only to sit on the floor for another forty minutes.
Finally, after draining my brain of thought juices, I managed to get out of the house and take a walk.
Every step (that hurt the poor grass) erased a scribble in my brain until it was clear - all I had to do was kill myse-I mean, read something. Yes, education, focus, relieve the existential crisis, all of that. I haven’t read a book since high school. And where has that brought you, Brian?
Normally I’d be too anxious to go to the library in general, let alone without prior planning. However, my desperation walked faster than the anxiety could run and before I knew it, I was in front of the library door.
After some struggling and questioning of my intelligence and body abilities, I managed to open it. They had air conditioning so good that it even made my body cool down. You can’t see it through the screen, but I’m really hot during summer and sometimes it’s the only thing keeping me from suici-I was so jealous of the workers. Like, these grannies just chill here occasionally telling people to shut up while breathing air so divine I almost thought it came out of Beyoncé’s lungs, having access to thousands of books and free computers for eight hours a day and getting paid for it?
Anyway, I hope my rage didn’t peek through my voice when I said hi to them and asked for the ‘Death Note’ manga. If it did, it could’ve been the reason why they told me they didn’t have it available. Or they just wanted me to go away so they could go on with their perfect little librarian lives that I was so sick of, so I stayed on purpose. The rage filled up my tank and there was, once again, no space for social anxiety.
I walked around that building like I believed in Sweatcoin looking for a genre I liked. Romance? Ew, no. Horror? Please, I saw ‘IT Chapter Two’ and lost all respect for horror in general. Thriller? Too dumb for that right now.
I just decided I’ll go with a classic to try to make myself less of an uncultured swine.
‘Anna Karenina’ was so boring, oh my God. Plus, all of the characters were annoying snobs. Not reading that. ‘Animal Farm’ was referenced in that piece of garbage that was the movie ‘The Farm’ so I couldn’t possibly bring myself to touch it. ‘Wuthering Heights’ sounds like you have to be a nerdy picture-perfect girl to understand and/or like it, and I’m just a stoner-looking pissed-off socially awkward guy. That sentence kinda makes me wanna puke, but I’ll leave it in for you to read anyway since I need some humbling after telling you how smoking hot I am during summer. My dump truck in those shorts-
‘Catcher in the Rye’ was my ex’s favorite book. I thought it was a boring story about a boy who catches bugs in the rye during summer while wearing his grandpa’s hat to appear mature even though he’s still shorter than his bike - perfect. Also, the fact that my cheating ex liked it so much really helped me decide.
I took it home, showed it to my cats, and later fed the last, empty page to the pigeons in my front yard while Taylor Swift was blasting in the background. They all loved it in their way; this book never really went out of style, did it?
Then I went inside and got this sudden urge to take control of my own mediocre life - I just needed to find a rope long eno-I turned my router off. My phone and laptop rested in soft, senior dust at the top of my closet that I couldn’t even reach without a chair, so I was able to gift all of my attention and limited time to that dead tree in my hands. It had to die for a reason, right?
So, the first few sentences were already enough for me to figure this writer out. Not saying I’m smart for that (matter of fact, sometimes I think I’m too stupid to continue livi-), I’m just trying to tell you how cool he seemed. He didn’t tell us about himself because he knows that no one cares. Do you care? Stop lying.
One part about books that always turned me away from them was the first few pages of the boring author introduction. Thankfully, J.D. doesn’t take himself too seriously and just dives right into this dynamic, well-written piece.
You could say I liked it since I read around a hundred pages that late afternoon. I felt like a middle school nerd on a summer break who only separates his eyes from the book when his mom calls him for lemonade. That drink, obviously, reminded me of Beyoncé but I told myself I wasn’t going to use any technology until the next morning, so guess what I did? Yup, went straight to bed with a cup of tea like a boomer.
Okay, it wasn’t tea but diet soda with lemon, however, I still deserve some props, right?
In bed, I thought about the way the main character, Holden, spent his days. He was in fact, as I was told by Salinger, taller than a bike, which came as a bit of a shocker for me. He was also a smart guy who got kicked out of high school for, well, failing every class except for English (since he was a gifted writer, unlike Brian...who said that?).
I understood though. His subconscious did it. It just wanted away from the boarding school environment that was just a dirty pool of shallow kids his age and tears of adults who were supposed to teach him stuff that he doesn’t even care about. The poor guy viewed the world so differently than most people he knew, so he felt trapped and frustrated.
Although that is probably the book's main takeaway, there was something else about it that made me question the way I and other humans interacted. It was related to the fact that the plot happens in the ‘40s when, seemingly, social anxiety wasn’t a thing. Like, people in this book, they just walk up to each other and talk. Teachers invite students to their houses; Holden talks to a random girl at the park and boys at the museum, jokes around with a woman on the train, invites an old friend for a drink without a sweat. If I tried to carry out a conversation with someone on public transport, the best-case scenario would be that I got ignored.
Worst (or best?) case scenario - I get so embarrassed that I finally kill mys-
The day after that, I went to the library again.
Honestly, I was impressed by how quickly I learned how to open that John-Cena-requiring door without having my arms amputated. And oh boy did the cold air swipe away my sweat. I would kill one of these ladies just to take their place. Maybe that’s the only negative side-effect of working here. You know, the jealousy of readers like me. Doesn’t matter, the grannies were probably jealous of my as-
So I came calm and collected; my arms were a bit red, but I didn’t care if they cared. Was I awkward? Maybe. But hey - these grannies grew up in a catcher-in-the-rye type of environment and they’re used to people being relatively awkward, right? Or at least that was my cope-rope at the moment.
You know, I told myself I was going to talk to them. Not just sit there and read (although, that alone was scary enough).
After the initial, programmed ‘Hello’, I started walking up to them. It seemed like they remembered me from the day before (probably because no one else came), so one of them asked ‘You? Again? What do you need?’
‘Oh, um, I just came here to read this.’
My social anxiety slapped me on my already red, swollen wrist and told me to stop talking right after I finished that sentence, but, instead, I leaned the cold book on my arm and continued chatting with the privileged fossils.
‘I don’t have this kind of AC at home, and it seems to be peaceful and quiet here, right?’
Well no shit Brian, it’s a library. Please format the hard drive that is your brain so you never have to remember that sentence aga-
‘You’re right, we’re choosing this instead of being at home during summer. The air is crazy crisp here. You can go there and read… Or would you rather sit with us? Charlotte and I are playing poker on Facebook, we can add you as a frie-’
Okay, I did come here to conquer anxiety, but this was way too much. I just chose to sit and read as far away from them as I could while they couldn't read my, couldn’t read my poker face. P-p-p-poker face f-f-fuc-
The next five minutes were just me, the quiet grannies and the radio that played ‘Poker Face’ in my head. I still felt guilty about talking to them, but they didn’t seem bothered, and I could do this again if I had to.
A couple of moments later, Holden’s adventures consumed me again.
I stayed there until I read the whole thing - even if that meant that I was reminded by the librarians that they were closing in fifteen minutes. That made me extremely nervous, but I stayed and even returned the book.
That night, I felt pride in myself. I was a brave soldier holding the anxiety’s heart in my bloody hand, coming home to his cats to brag. I served it to them. They ate the liver too, for nutrients.
Then I put my even hotter summer clothes on - it was time to go to the club.
I struggled to unlock my phone since the fingerprint scanner didn’t work with wet hands, so I had to manually type my password…What? I’m not going to tell you what it is, you nosy intruder.
Now, I had to call someone to keep me company in the club, and also tell me how to act since I’ve never been there before (shocker). There was one person in mind - my friend from high school, Dave.
I haven’t heard from him in centuries (I’m a vampire).
The truth is, we don’t talk anymore because I always get at a loss of topics when I stop seeing someone frequently.
(And also, I limit my human interactions as much as possible so no one figures out that I’m a vampire. Thank god this post is anonymous.)
My bloody hands were shaking as my finger was hovering over the dial button next to his contact, so I washed them and called him.
He seemed genuinely happy to hear my unbearably annoying voice. We ended up talking for around forty minutes about our lives and all of that boring, private stuff.
I finally asked him if he was going out tonight.
He said that he was taking his girlfriend out on a date.
And now what? Do I just give up, go to bed and watch anime? Ye-
First I cry because I just got reminded of how lonely I was without my cheating ex.
Then I go to the club.
Then I go home and watch anime until I fall asleep.
Perfect, now I just need to execute this master plan and we’re good.
After wiping my crocodile tears, I took the bus to the closest club I could find on Google Maps.
I looked at other passengers - they looked back at me.
This has always been one of my biggest fears, as crazy as it sounds. There’s something so scary about people making eye contact with me and perceiving me. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, plus it makes me think that I’m ugly.
But that night was different. The longer I stared, the more relaxing it got until I started enjoying it. I noticed small details about people that I haven't had the courage to ever before - the way they did their hair, their eyebrows and makeup, their earrings. I would’ve cried out of happiness if I had any tears left. You could say that I was in a state of mind I wanna be in like all the time.
Sorry, that was the last song pun, I promise.
The club was big and loud; the atmosphere there was drastically different from the one outside. All you could see outside were elderly couples walking and holding hands. It was so cute that I almost cried again (I have a problem, okay?)
Anyway, they were blasting Nicki Minaj so I couldn’t resist shouting the lyrics and jumping around. I didn’t even care, and neither did the already drunk and possibly high people around me.
I spent around 2.5 hours there and had muscle aches all over my body the next day from doing what I thought was dancing.
If you think I did anything interesting afterward, you are a huge optimist and I like you.
So, you read this and thought ‘Wow, Brian is so cool. I would love to meet him (during summer if possible)’, or ‘I just wasted so many minutes!’, or ‘Damn Brian, I’m about to donate a bag of my blood to you and fulfill my Twilight fantasy’.
You’d be lucky if I cared (except for the third one, send the blood bag over). I don’t even care if you send this to my ex. Who are you anyway? Do you know who you are? Ok, that was the actual last song pun. I just had to include Harry Styles.
Treat people with kindness,
Take a book and carry it,