So, this is tough for me to post. Yes, I may have written this for a class last semester, and I may have entered it into the McKinney Contest, and I may be very proud of it, but at least in all those instances, there probably would only be a few people reading it. This leaves me wide open to the internet.
Do I feel vulnerable with people knowing this information? Do I feel this chapter of my life makes me who I am? Do I feel that I can shed some light into my mind with this? Do I think that maybe someone else in the situation can read this and figure out that there’s more to life?
All of these things and more run through my head right now as I’m posting this.
Something else that runs through my mind : To shed some light on why it’s written as such. At the time of writing this piece I was reading House of Leaves by Danielewski. The book was a very difficult read for me because of the sensory depravation, the extreme dark tones in the work, and the poor little love story nestled within its pages. The whole time I was writing this, I was unconsciously thinking about that book. I think it helped me make something you can really feel.
So, without further ado (mmmm cliches) -
Blue by Jared Connell
The gun entices my ears with a bright and electric sound. Dancing through the air, it seems to pierce the eardrums as it gains proximity to my skin. The needle touches the skin and I arch my back. The sound has gone dull, much more personal, much more painful. It am reminded of a cell phone vibrate that is muted by a pocket of a shirt.
The needle stings but I know that soon the pain will be gone and my body will rush with endorphins. What I don’t know is that it will make the steak I eat later the best one I have ever had. I smirk and cringe as the ink injects itself into my back.
“Owwww, that’s my spine,” I mutter as the tattoo gun outlines the design on my back. “Stop crying,” mocks my artist, Kim. I shiver a little with my shirt off because of the air conditioned tattoo parlor. I smile to my girlfriend, Margaret, she takes a picture. She giggles at me, but I’m sure she feels sympathy.
Ninety minutes and a coke later, I can look into the mirror. Stunned, I look in awe at the masterpiece on my back. My new tattoo is an asymmetrical abstraction of the sun in the center of my back. The tattoo is gorgeous but it hurts like hell. Impressed that I did not faint, cry, or scream in pain (too much), Kim shakes my hand and smiles. I thank her for another great tattoo and hand her a generous tip.
I head toward the door hand-in-hand with Margaret, she is excited for my new ink. I begin to laugh at her excitement, and I open the door into the heat and blinding sunlight.
Well, I’m sure it’s hot, and I’m sure it’s bright, but this is a different time. This is a time in my past.
Damn. This hallway is too bright. Blink, blink. I rub my eyes and peer around the empty, thin, wood paneled hallway. Oh, there we go. I locate at the thermostat and slowly walk over to it. It’s too hot in my room. I turn the thermostat off and sulk back to the door of my room. Prying the door open, I try to let my eyes gain their vision in the dark. There’s no light in here, I have to feel my way to the left to locate my personal door. There’s my room. I feel for my sheets as I close the door behind me. The room I sleep in is seven feet by ten feet. No one bothers me in here, I drift off into a deep slumber.
It’s wintertime at RPI. Why am I still here? Currently I’m between majors and not doing so well in classes. I find it difficult to not sleep in most days. I am sick of my body. I’m sure I’ve gained about thirty pounds this year already. It’s odd, I didn’t gain any weight during Freshman year. Little did I know that my weight gain would be a total of seventy by the end of this ordeal. I am finding it hard to balance out my stress levels, so I feel down in the dumps all the time.
I look to my right and grab my phone. I slightly mutter a “Hello?”
“Hey, Jared, how are you feeling? Is everything ok? I’m worr…”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Everything’s ok” I interject.
Slowly and slightly quiet I hear “Oh… alright then.”
“Bye Margaret.” I hang up.
Being woken up by my longest-known friend, Margaret, I look around my box of a room. She always knows when something is different in my life. Where’s that light? I slump out of bed and hit the lights, it slightly blinds me. I wish there were windows in here. The room is cozy and warm, but the lack of windows in this box gives me problems. Where’s my natural light? I thrive on light, I need it. Without light I feel nothing. I am nothing. This is the worst possible time for me to finally realize it. It happens to be the middle of the semester.
I stand and open the door to my larger, lounge area. Vaguely, I can see the floral couch against the opposite wall. Rotating to the left, I stretch over my wooden desk and grab the curtains. I should get these open. I pull the thick, dark blue curtains outward from the center of the window. The room brightens slightly. I can now see the wood paneling around my lounge area, and I notice the dull, muted blue floral pattern on my couch. Not good enough. I grab the string on the blinds and slump to get them open.
Fuckin‘ gross, what shitty weather. It’s gloomy out, but I cannot tell if it’s just began to rain, or if it has been raining for a while. Either way, it doesn’t matter, the light is already retreating in the sky. What time is it now? I look over to the analog clock on the wall opposite to me, I can just make out the numbers. Five…FORTY-FIVE?! Not again! I need to get to sleep earlier during the night. The sun is going down far too early for me, it leaves me needing more in my day to make me happy. This strikes me as odd because I live in New York State, I should be used to the light change. The truth is I’m not used to living in a box. It’s hard to not know when there is daylight, and when there is moonlight.
I’m so miserable. At this time of my life, I find myself in a miserable relationship. I am sick of my partner but I find it difficult to break it off with her. I’m depressed, that’s what it has to be.
It’s the beginning of spring semester now and I’m still with the same-old woman. Same-old face, same-old voice, same-old clothes, same-old height. The issue isn’t that things are same-old, same-old; the issue is that everything about her seems so common. The only uncommon thing about her is her dense, heavy, and overall curly hair. It’s all too familiar and not at all warming. Just thinking about her sometimes makes me sick. I cannot bring myself to let her go. I don’t want to be alone again. Shaking in my room, I’m alone physically. At least I’m not alone emotionally, or so I think.
Later in the week we talk to each other face-to-face. It’s the first human contact I’ve had in days. Her face is red and her eyes are swollen slightly. She pleads with me through the tears. “I find it difficult to help you when you aren’t trying!” I think I’m trying. She continues through gasps of air. I’m “too difficult.” I’m “too closed.” I’m “drifting away.” I tell her that everything will be fine and we’ll make this work. I’m lying. I decide that she cannot help me. She doesn’t know me well enough. She just doesn’t understand.
The snow is beginning to melt and the sun is around for much longer now. What day is it? I look to the calendar on my wall. Scanning down I notice a picture of a wildlife scene. There is a bunny in the foreground and slight snow covering the ground. Some grass is poking through. This thing is so bland. At some point I would have found it calming, but not now.
With my eyes I continue to scan down the calendar to find that it’s still March. I don’t care about the rest anymore, my attention has gone back to my recent break-up. Reaching to the door, I close it and turn off the lights in one fell swoop. I’m just going to go to sleep, it’s nighttime somewhere. Burying my face into my pillow, I begin to weep slightly. I’m completely alone now and school doesn’t matter. What am I doing? Can someone please help me?
How long has it been now? Days? Weeks? Ah, whatever. The details are escaping me, it is probably still March, the calendar says so at least. Kind and always loving Margaret tries to calm me. She’s has always been there for me. Something sparks in my heart, and I re-find feelings for her. They must have been kindling for years. I love her. Why am I so stupid? Why didn’t I figure it out soon enough? Well, I messed up now, she’s with someone else. Why can’t she be with me? How can she be happy with him? Something needs to happen. I need her. My inner voice wavers on the fence between anger and sorrow. What has happened to the old me?
I talk to her for weeks it seems. Margaret loves me too, she has always loved me, but she doesn’t want to hurt him. I tell her to not worry about him. I am so much more important! I ensure her that he’ll be fine eventually but I can’t know what will happen with me.
I grab my phone, I see a text that enrages me. She says she won’t leave, not even for me. She is far too kind-hearted. My face turns red, I feel hot. I have reached my breaking point. By this time my hand has transformed into a fist, it soars through the thick air, it connects with the wall.
It sounds like a mini forest just broke down. I pull my hand from the newly develloped hole, it’s bleeding. There’s small cuts all down the side of my palm. I peer into the hole, I let out a sigh and start to laugh a little. Did I do that with one swing? I’m oddly impressed with my strength. It’s not until later that I realize how close I was to hearing a crunch from my bones instead. That was too close to the stud. Breathing heavily I slump onto my bed and text her back.
Have I put a hole in the wall, or is it just the hole in my heart I see?
She’s worried, and rightfully so. I tell her not to worry and just to do the thing she feels is right. Of course, this is in addition to telling her about the decorating I just did.
Then I stop. I need to look at myself. The anger has gotten to me. This isn’t who I want to be. What is really happening? Ow. I look down at my hand, again. It seems to have become deeper in color since I looked at it before. I should go to the bathroom and run it under some water.
I quickly make it to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror. My face is red and streamed with. Tears I didn’t know I was crying. They don’t feel right; they don’t feel real. What is happening to me? I sniffle. I am miserable. I am furious. I am in love. I am jealous. I. Am. In. Love.
I decide I need to call Margaret.
I don’t let her say anything else. In a last-ditch effort to sway her emotions, I give her some heavy-hearted and long-winded speech. A speech that I cannot fully remember to this day.
Silence. There is no noise from the other line. I mutter “Hey. You still there?”
There is a sniffle on the other side. She has been crying. She understands me, she loves me.
The next day I find out that she has decided to break his heart so she doesn’t lose mine. Margaret tells me to try and help myself. She sends me on an internet search because she knows how much I love them. I take her advice and spend the next few hours looking around.
I find that what I might be suffering with is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I talk to my parents, and they corroborate the article I found. Apparently, it is common in the males on my father’s side of the family. They call it the “Winter Blues.” My father tells me that he gets it every year, but it’s gotten better in recent years. I don’t tell him, but I know that he doesn’t know that what I felt was more than just the blues. It’s not just that I’m a rebelling youth, but it’s because we’re entirely different people. My parents still don’t fully know what happened, but I think they are content knowing that their son is happy and shining bright.
I found out that when my body does not get enough sun, I spiral into a deep depression. Margaret learns about this through watching me, and her own research. She loves me and surprises me with a “GloLite” as a late birthday present. This device can create light comparable to what the sun would ‘put out’ to trick my mind into believing that there’s more sun than there is. I’m transformed into a happier version of myself. It is the first time in months I have felt this good about everything. I decide that I need to make sure I never forget these dark days. I go out during the summer and get the tattoo.
The bell on the door jingles behind me. As my eyes acclimate to the light, I look to the dark cloud in the distance, a constant reminder of who I was before all of this. I smile to Margaret and we share a loving embrace, because she knows how much this, and she, means to me.
Everything is right in the world because of her, my beautiful abstraction. I don’t need the light when she’s around. She is my sun.
A few bad decisions and a year later, I ask her to marry me. I propose on the beach under a blue moon the following New Years. In tears, shivering from the cold and the joy, she says yes. Margaret thinks of me as her blue moon. I am now a tattoo on her back.
Now, I allow everything to permeate my being. I realize that it’s not about the night, it’s more about the absence of light. I look to my sun as a constant to reminder of what, and who, I need. It is a promise to myself to never end up how I was. It is a promise to everyone whom I love, may I never hurt them through fear of my depression again.