Amy and I had long talks, talks that she said she could have with no other person because not only did I listen to what she said, I analysed her words, anticipated her thoughts and told her what I believed she was going to do next, advising her whether her next actions were best for her or not.
Most guys she knew either she quickly had sex with to give them the only thing they wanted from her or she saw that they were willing to trade something for sex with her, be it money or something else she’d ask for.
I was the only person who seemed to care what was going on in her head.
As I built up the image of her thought patterns and fed them back to her, she saw our cultural differences and wondered about our longterm compatibility.
I cared about her health and wellbeing whereas she said that, given her childhood and schizophrenic tendencies, there was going to be no eventual safe haven for her to settle into; thus, no reason for me to care about her health, just have a good time in the moment and assume we were going to die young somehow.
The guys who gave her money and bought her things were more than willing to live the philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you may die.”
Those were the days…
Amy and I would take a few buttons of mushrooms and wander the streets of downtown Knoxville, observing the people around us, imagining we were them, pretending we were the old couples walking hand-in-hand, taking each other’s hand and acting like elderly life companions.
We had lots of fun when we were alone together, whether sitting on the concrete steps of an empty lot, lying in bed and looking up at the stars through the bedroom window, or standing in a bar.
I knew I could never have her for myself.
When I got the flat across the river from downtown, I thought it was going to be a great place for me to study the material given to me by the Steak & Ale restaurant manager who had high hopes for my future in the restaurant business.
Amy knew it was a great place to bring guys who didn’t necessarily want to be seen in the downtown area with her. She also wanted to let the guys know that it was my flat so they had the impression I was in charge, just in case some of the guys were a little too aggressive or possessive of her.
There were a few.
They knew I had Amy’s best interest at heart and didn’t like the contrast between good-times, self-destructive Amy and the guy she was living with, who seemed to keep her from drinking too much, knowing when she drank too much she didn’t pay attention to people stealing things from her apartment.
Her last boyfriend didn’t care how destructive she was when drunk because he was getting more sex than he’d ever had before and just accepted people walking out with his booze, food and clothing was the price you had to pay to have Amy in your life.
So maybe I was too practical, too square, as it were, just because I was struggling to start my own business whilst working a fulltime job as dishwasher, cook, barkeep and bookkeeper trainee, studying in my offhours to become an assistant restaurant manager, every nickel and dime going toward basic living expenses, let alone funding the daily parties Amy had in the flat, convincing guys that I had all the money to pay for the food and drink.
The nerdy geek, the engineer in training, was still in me.
I was not that far removed from my failed freshman year at Georgia Tech as a Navy midshipman with a fully-funded four-year scholarship, obstensibly working toward a chemical engineering degree.
Amy was only partially getting me away from all that, away from the white picket fence, two kids, one cat, one dog and a station wagon in Vanilla Suburbia.
Both my feet were planted in her world but my thoughts were spread across many potential futures.
One night, when I was looking at my overdrawn bank account ledger, trying to figure out how to get more customers (and credit to Amy for bringing guys who wanted to buy stuff from me), scratching myself because of a flea infestation that started in one of the bedrooms of the flat, I panicked.
I was trapped, falling quickly into debt with no clear vision for my future.
I knew Amy’s future.
She knew it, too.
She didn’t want to live to be old.
She wanted to die young, perhaps of a drug overdose or a crazy boyfriend or some random guy in the back alley.
Amy’s parents had been hippies traveling the country in a camper van, raising Amy on the side of the road, teaching her to live off the land, including theft of food from roadside convenience stores and unlocked cars; accepting money from strangers who fell for the “woe is us, we’re broke and need to buy food for our baby” story, unashamed to be nude in public, squatting to pee or poop whenever the urge occurred, making love with whomever they felt the desire in the moment, making up stories about their lives to entertain others, sometimes have to avoid the police but never on the run from them.
Live and let live.
Amy’s parents eventually settled down, found regular jobs and planned to live to old age.
They knew there was something the matter with Amy and would send her money whenever she lied to them that she was about to start a college class or needed new glasses and was broke — they knew she lied but went along with lie, hoping she might be telling the truth sometimes.
That is, until her mother came to visit when Amy was with her last boyfriend, Tim.
The visit changed Tim. Amy’s mother described Amy’s problems to a fault, making her out to be a sociopath, schizophrenic and petty thief but her mother still loved her and hoped Amy would grow up. Tim was no longer interested in Amy living with him, tired of people taking his stuff, including at least once his dirty underwear!
It was Amy who convinced me to get a flat with her.
She played up the fact we were both outcasts, perfectly suited to shack up together.
My sister, with whom I was sharing a flat at the time, didn’t trust Amy, having seen Amy steal stuff from her. She didn’t think I should spend time with Amy, get on with my life, the type of suburban living in which we were raised and were destined to perpetuate.
I love everyone with judgment.
I accept that the reality you wish to perpetuate with your thoughts and actions is as real as any other, despite impractical application or clashing with society at large.
I am a passenger on this planet-sized boat, with a very, very, very short lifespan, willing to go along with whatever, whenever, wherever.
If Amy wanted a flat with me, then why not go for it?
While I sat cross-legged on a mattress like an island floating atop a carpeted sea of fleas, I questioned my sanity.
I don’t know that I’m very smart, or smart at all. My memorisation skills are poorly developed, my discipline for concentration limited and my self-confidence very low.
I had a flat half paid for, debt that was piling up, an absentee girlfriend and a future as a barkeep that might not pan out, unsure if I wanted to be a bookkeeper working dawn to dusk just to fund Amy’s lifestyle.
Everyone told me that Amy was fucking crazy but I never saw that when I was with her. We clicked in a way that brought out the sane, rational side of her, a side where she could think about going to college, could take a job as a waitress at a downtown diner and bring money home.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be with her 24/7.
She said whatever she wanted except when she was with me and knew that I’d ask if what she said was a delusion/fantasy when it didn’t make sense. Sometimes what she said was a convuluted mixture that she couldn’t tell if it was real or not. She was used to guys just ignoring what she said as long as they got what they wanted, whether it was her on their arm making them look good or something else.
Maybe I shouldn’t be an analytical nerd 24/7.
Maybe I should just go with the flow, ignoring what people say, and get what I want for myself from them without caring about the longterm consequences for the people I take advantage of.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been sad lately, giving of myself to others to help them find their way, get better, succeed, whilst I wallow in the detritus of a depressed lifestyle.
It’s not maybe.
I think I know what I want to be something more than I am but whatever it is — fear, depression, laziness, lack of motivation, lack of self-worth — keeps me from stepping up out of this comfortable mudhole.
If I think about it too much, I wish myself dead rather than face myself again in the same dusty, moldy, cobweb-covered mirror tomorrow.
Some people have their dreams they are turning into reality, whether it be start their own clothing store, build a global distribution network or set sail for Mars.
What is my dream?
Rather, what dreams have I not already turned into reality?
I live in the cabin the woods I dreamt of as a kid, residing in a community of academics, engineers, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs of many professions, writing daily, sipping coffee in cafes, with a couple of cats and a life companion who not only pays for most of the stuff we own but also cooks our dinner and washes/dries our clothes.
What else could I possibly dream of and want?
After all, I worked on the space shuttle main engine controller, helping to put people in space and build the International Space Station. I published a novel and received a professional review of my novel. I worked in Europe and lived there weeks at a time, traveling to places I wanted to see and places that changed my perspective permanently. I owned two Italian sports cars, twin 1984 Alfa Romeo Spyders.
I have a sunroom instead of a greenhouse.
I haven’t yet traveled to Italy but global tourism has turned the sites I want to see into ruins crawling with human-sized ants.
What else do I want?
Well, I want children of my own to carry on the genetic if not the cultural legacy — that’s about it, all that’s left of my childhood dreams.
Everything else I do is related to helping my friends make their dreams into reality, which I willingly volunteer to assist.
At 55, fathering children is risky.
My window of opportunity for healthy, socially productive children may have closed.
Instead, I may father an Amy Easter who brings joy to many but will never live a stable adulthood.
Is that so bad?
Didn’t Amy and I have a good time together until she said she couldn’t live with me, that she was ruining my life, that she knew she was fucking crazy and wanted to die, and then moved in with a guy who was into carving himself with broken pieces of dirty Coke bottles, hoping he’d permanently scar himself with infections, possibly die, take Amy with him?
I lost touch with Amy after she moved out.
I also lost hope and wanted to kill myself, imagining driving off a cliff along the Pacific Ocean coastline.
I stole my parents’ station wagon and drove from Knoxville to Seattle to LA and back in about two weeks’ time, moving out of the flat and back into my parents’ house to complete a collegiate associate’s degree whilst dating married/divorced older women.
Sure, I’ve repeated this story many times, revealing different details, but I’ve done so in order to ask myself if there’s anything new I can learn from the retelling.
What if all my life has been has been to help others see themselves and act according to their true nature, whether that be self-destructive or successful entrepreneur?
What if it’s to help only one person other than myself become someone they never dreamt possible?
What if it’s not any purpose at all and I’m just here, now, writing, and in the next moment, showering to prepare for working the night shift, and the next moment doing something else, so on and so forth, just sets of states of energy in motion with a feedback loop that generates an imaginary sense of self?
How can a set of states of energy in motion undo its illusionary sense of selfhood?
And will that get rid of this longterm sadness I’ve felt for the last few months so I can tell a person I want to have children with her and get on with my new life, changing my plans according to her answer?