An Autumn Fever Dream

The date is October 22, 2009. I remember this because when I woke up in my haze this morning, I knew that I would remember this date for no reason at all. I come to find out 10 minutes later that this is not going to be a day worth remembering. In fact, it will be one that passes me by as I rest my sick head and watch the world turn without me. It occurs to me that I have an exam, and a beefy one at that. My brain goes into a panic. A fever starts coming on. I’m restless, hopeless, and useless to the outside world. But I study. I try so damn hard to study as I repeat to myself that everything is going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine. I am not losing my mind. It’s just the fever. Things are fine. Most of all, this material makes sense. Everything will be fine.

I get into the classroom. Fuck, how did I get here? I want so badly to walk up to my prof to back out. He stands tall in the front of the class yelling loudly and excitedly. The man might as well have a megaphone, he is so fucking excited to give us this exam. I sink into my chair, and wipe down a sickly layer of cold off my face. It makes no difference, as it reforms almost instantly. Things start to go blurry. The walls are breathing. I get the sensation that I am melting, and not in a way that you would in order to enjoy fireworks. I mean army men underneath a magnifying glass, spiderman toy in the microwave, CD in the sun, this is the real fucking deal! I am melting! And soon my brain will follow. I wipe another layer of sweat off. Concentrate. By this time, everyone is already balls deep in the exam, which is 100% essay questions. I briefly consider writing about my melting. No, I have to concentrate. When I was a kid, I always would take long periods of time to reflect back on what life was like 1 year ago, and compare the differences. I also ate a lot of pizza rolls. What does that say about America? Think! Think! Okay, one year ago. One year ago. Here comes something.

I’m standing on a porch. I don’t know who’s porch it is. I’m Teen Wolf 3. I am the man, without a doubt. Joe leans into me and says “It’s a beautiful thing.” At first I am somewhat taken off guard. What is it that’s so beautiful? And then I see the beautiful thing. “It really is.” I reply back. Within 20 minutes the beautiful thing turns ugly. Real ugly. But not too ugly. It seems that these things were prone to happen at just about any time. Things were constantly changing, people were constantly changing, and my change, well, came from my reaction to all the changes.

I’m standing on a porch. I know who’s porch it is, but I’m not sure if I want to be there. Roscoe lies on the ground, staring at the ceiling. This was not because he was messed up, it was because, well, it was the thing for him to do at the time. “Where do you think that thing came from?”, Roscoe asks me. I look up and see a chunk of wood protruding from the ceiling, painted over as if it was part of the ceiling. “It was probably a part of a hinge?” I half-assedly reply back. We go on for 20 minutes about this chunk. Not because we were bored, frustrated, sad or anything of the sort. It was only because these things were prone to happening.

It’s very late, but not too late. I expect to find Roscoe at my doorstep, but find Opie instead, manically pouncing through my house carrying a clipboard. He rambles about things that I can’t comprehend. We need outdoors. We walk through the city, as he grips onto his clipboard for dear life. I can’t tell if he’s really excited, or if a fuse was blown somewhere deep inside his mind. All that I knew was at the time it was something I couldn’t handle.

It’s the first snow of the year, and Joe and I walk around the city trying to find Christmas lights. There are hardly any, with the exception to a couple of parking lots. This city has no Christmas spirit at all. But it’s one of those nights that you forget about the next day only to remember clearly 7 months later. It was one of those talks about life, football cards, underaged smoking and the band Chicago. There was a smell in the air that everything was changing again. The season was bringing on better things for everyone, and I knew that if I just kept my hopes up, my change would happen soon. Either way, I am grateful that life could be this way, if not for me, but for other people. And the snow brings on a good hue to cover the banal greyness of late autumn.

It’s 2 nights before Christmas Eve, and we stand on top of the hill. It’s 3 in the morning, and temperatures may have hit 0 already. Nobody else minds, because they’re into living this moment. As 2 young relationships bud while going downhill on a sled, I am stuck at the top with my thoughts. I spot a baseball diamond below me. It glows through the layers of snow, as if it’s trying to tell me something. And something snaps. I can feel the pain in the world, as it is all being directed towards me. Things aren’t right. I have to get home. Now. I could die on the way. I’m probably going to die on the way. I am approached by smiling faces, who talk about going back downhill again. No, this cannot happen. I collapse. It’s over.

Now I’m standing in front of the porch. It’s the night before Christmas Eve, and we stand out in the middle of the road. I am still haunted by the visions I saw inside the glowing baseball diamond, just 24 hours before. At the time, I knew something bad was happening. But now we stand in the road. And as painful as it is, I feel like I was watching some sort of deconstruction of my best friend. I don’t remember how long we stood there, staring off into opposite ends of the distance. My new jacket has a fresh layer of snow covering it. I know now that my out of body experience actually meant something. As all of them did. These things happen because I am mentally connected to my loved ones.

I’m sitting on the kitchen floor. I’m in a post-panic attack haze. As I ran through the snow, I was rescued by Roscoe and Alice. Or was it Colin and Alice? Although things remained the same, these things were prone to happen to me as well. I remember seeing the dark cloud hanging over me as I sat leaned up against the refrigerator. This appliance turned into a furnace, and with a little luck, a chinese fortune, a day wasted, and a little Phillip Glass, a miracle happened. Indy found her way home. Opie went away and never came back. There was a sense in the air that everything was going to be better from here and out. But it was actually the beginning of the end.

Looking back, I think it’s a fair assumption that misery brought us all together. Whether it was because of an unexpected breakup, a long awaited breakup, or 2 years of emotional stagnancy, the 3 of us found some sort of bond through having problems together. I guess I didn’t realize that I might’ve been taking some of the fondest times of my life for granted. I wish I could go back to a time where popping pills and reading Cosmo was a Tuesday night activity. I miss spending hours on that porch, sucking down American Spirits, and the occasional or usual Gambler. Quality of time didn’t matter, because nothing mattered. We had eachother, and that was all that mattered. And then, Winter came, and the two of them got better. Hanging out turned into hanging out with girls. Hanging out with girls turned into bastardized double dates with Shamrock Tanner as the 5th wheel. But it worked out for the better for everyone. Everyone found the change they were looking for. Everyone except…well…me. Which is why I’m the one writing this. I live in a time now where nothing ever happens. My friends are now constant, we have good times, misery is hardly ever spoke of. But maybe it’s misery that we all need to become better people. And now the 3 of us live in separate cities. How this happened, I will never know. But what I know now is that I’ve spent the last hour writing out an exam, and I’m not even sure of what I wrote.

And then the exam is finished. Or at least, I just got done answering the last question. My fever has subsided slightly. The room is quiet, peaceful, everyone hard at work while the prof eats candy and reads a book. There’s no way I can be done before everyone else. I don’t even know what I wrote. My brain went on autopilot. I read what I had answered, and somehow, it all seems right. Everything makes sense and will probably get full or partial credit. It’s nice to see that miracles can still happen.

I walk out into the gloomy fall day to think some more. I go into another building and try to study my French. It’s not happening. I need something. I walk outside to try and see if I can bum a smoke from a stranger. It’s raining now, and there’s nobody outside. Except for a girl on a bench. The bench is underneath a tree, protecting it from the rain, and there is a ray of gray light emitting onto it. And of course, she is smoking a cigarette. “Any chance I can bum one of those?” I ask shyly. She smiles. “Only if you hang around while you have it.” So I do. I sit with her underneath the tree, and for some reason, give her the abridged story of my life. She gives me hers as well. Life is strange. It took me 4 and a half years of going to college to have an authentic conversation with a complete stranger. I felt like I knew her for years. It was all very strange. I finish the smoke, and tell her that I have to go flunk my French class. “Well, if I never see you again, have a good life.”, she insists. I pause. I can’t reciprocate that statement, because I don’t ever want to say to anybody that I’ll never see them again. “By any chance, would you like to get a Gatorade sometime?”, I give her the line that I’ve been giving girls for the last 7 months. It has yet to work. “I would”, she pleasantly replies. Now it’s awkward because I can’t remember her name. I give her my number, and walk off into the distance. And there you have it. Change. It happens all the time. It happens to all of us. It just takes a lot for us to notice.

And after all, who doesn’t like Gatorade?

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