Thoughts from the kitchen floor

Small essays born out of loneliness.

Most of the time I conceal I'm pretentious. Most of the time, people can't tell and I live discreetly, safeguarding each movie, book and song I enjoy. But then you show up. You are brazen, unashamed, flamboyant, in a hazy mixture of conscious decisions and your own brain's betrayals. Everybody says it to your face, but you continue enjoying whatever you feel like. So you've gone out, studied and practiced almost everything without caring about the rest of the world.

For a moment, if we talk, I feel like I'm setting the walls down, indulging in what I decided was strictly forbidden. Maybe that is why it feels intoxicating, and why it leaves me spinning afterwards. The night comes and I'm still savoring every sentence we told each other. My brain betrays me too, so we're always jumping from one thing to the next, in a flurry that would be normally exhausting. But here I am, still recollecting vividly almost the whole thing, hours after you left me again.

How I would love to tell you how much it melts me the kind of discreet openness you have. You stop being extravagant when you talk about the people you've loved and touched. You suddenly become serious and thoughtful, like you're slowly selecting the correct words to honor what you once were. Like you want to preserve the intimacy you once had, almost speaking of them in short poems.

If I could touch your skin, I wonder what it would feel like. Would I like it? Or would I feel repulsed by it? I keep hoping that whatever the case, I would be able to speak of us kindly, just like you do with the people from your past. I just can't tell where my interest truly ends.

You can tell me how much of a coward I am all you want. We both know you're right. While you were out there trying to find meaning in your life from other people, I was hiding, fearful of getting hurt, stuck between all my own prejudices.

That's how it's always been with me, trying to run away from myself.

I was eleven, or maybe twelve, when it hit me that I was just a leaf floating in the air, being carried over by the wind coming from whoever happened to blow my way. Not much agency or direction of my own, just letting myself be moved around by the whims of other people.

I always felt distant to everything. Like seeing the world through a thick, tinted window. Everything and, specially everybody, always looked a bit too blurry, forcing me to squint my eyes to make out what was happening. Was I even a human at that point? It didn't feel natural to be that way. Maybe I was just an alien, trying to learn how to behave; trying out every day to disguise myself, afraid somebody would look through my act.

When I liked a girl, was that really love? My stomach would turn, my mind would be in a rush, and I could barely talk. Is that what love is? At the same time I felt the desire of getting closer, I felt afraid even more: would this be worth it if it's making me drop the act? Something devastating would happen the moment they would realize I'm just an alien. That their ideas of me are just fiction, that I can't give them what they want. But after all, I wanted desperately to break through the window and see the world without barriers, thinking that loving somebody would allow me to finally achieve it.

Then, was that infatuation, love? Or was it just me trying to fix my mind by leeching off from somebody else?

For a long time the only emotions that could overwhelm me were fear, anxiety and infatuation. The fear of not being human would transform into the anxiety of finding somebody that I could give my life to, so I had to be infatuated with a girl. Maybe not being alone would make me human, or maybe my calling was to just serve as a secondary character to another, more fulfilling, more human, life. So I, unconsciously, became a leaf, going from person to person for the will to live.

The moment I found somebody that accepted me, I was relieved. Thinking life would get easier, I would start feeling more human each day. But it was draining. Without fail, things would break down eventually when my mask slipped off and, accordingly, people wouldn't want to spend their time with an alien. Did I really love them? Would it have been better to never even met in the first place? I wanted to be with them, feel the soft touch of their hands on my skin, hear their voice all throughout the night. I wanted to be everything they expected from me. But it still felt distant, I couldn't be sure of what I was feeling.

Then it ended, again, but this time the pain was overwhelming. The first time I could feel like something was ripped off from me. No more blurriness, no more fog. The sun at noon would burn my skin relentlessly, the rain at night would freeze my bones, my breath would start being erratic. All the songs whose lyrics I never bothered to pay attention to suddenly were weighing heavily on me. Suddenly I was thrown into a world that I could barely understand, but it felt real. At last, I was feeling human.

It must have been love. The way I could let the mask slip off ever so slightly, that led to building plans for the future. We were in a kind of slow burn, that made us feel safer around each other. Not a burning passion that fizzled out, but a constant yellow light illuminating every corner. Maybe that is what love is for me. Something to assuage my fear of being an alien, something that brings me back to the real world. Spent most of my life seeking the brightest flame when I needed a safe slow burn. It wasn't completely without flaws and damage, but the pain it brought alongside the happiness made me feel alive for the first time.

Such a shame I could only realize this in retrospect, long after everything ended. During those years, the anxiety didn't pull back, trying to obscure the meaning of what we were.

Now everything feels overwhelming. The scratches on my knees, the burns in my palms. The same sad songs I keep repeating. I want to run, I want to try new things, I want to sing. For so long I thought I would never have the drive for those things, suddenly having it is exhausting, but I don't want to go back anymore.

The girl I talked to for just a few hours, I keep regretting not calling her before it was too late. But this feels closer to love, more than just infatuation. I don't feel the need to throw my life away to serve her. I don't feel the same anxiety as before. For the first time I wanted to chase the connection I felt out of pure desire. To try another slow burn, but now starting from a better place.

Life is still scary and unpredictable, but the excitement hasn't wore off yet. I want to take the pain and the bliss as forcefully as they dare to come.

The longer I live, the more dull days I see pass, the more I long for somebody to validate me completely, to accept me whole and give me enough space to grow where I know I'm flawed. To stop receiving support little by little, always having to look for somebody else when we've reached our patience's limit and I still feel starved. Is it too late to just now realize that this is pretty much impossible to get? Nobody else knows what I've experienced the way I remember it, with the same conclusions I have come to. Even people with the same burdens as me haven't been able to agree on everything.

The girl I've talked to recently, that understands what it feels to be perpetually clumsy and disoriented, could never offer me the space to rant about balancing my family's plans for me with what I want out of my own life. She is still too young, a couple of steps behind from what I've lived.

The boy that understands what it feels like to look at yourself in the mirror and never be sure if you'll ever be whole, could never understand what it felt like to lose years of your life while you were taking care of another person, leaving your identity to deteriorate completely. He has always given himself room to be selfish.

The divorced woman that knows too well how ruthless and sudden a breakdown in a relationship can be, how hopeless it feels to pick up yourself again and believe that you can find love again, could never understand what it is like to feel detached and alien your whole life. She knows why she feels the way she does and lets herself be consumed by it.

Maybe it's because I try to fulfill this when I have a partner, that I wish for it to be reciprocated. Maybe that is why I feel betrayed when they can't keep up in return. Even when I know that trying to do it will leave you exhausted. That it will wear you down, slowly, withering away your life like you're left to rot in the sun.

Only now I can see that I ought to take the pieces from every person and start attaching them together. Nobody will offer me a completed puzzle.

Sometimes I want to call her to tell her about this song I just found. How this artist made a composition so beautiful, so engrossing, that you need to drop your life immediately to experience it. How it reminds me of all those ticks she had, and the way she used to laugh, and the countless times we drove together late at night. Maybe it would've been the right song for our wedding, or it could've been the song we obsessed together for a month, or the artist we fantasize of seeing live someday. Maybe she wouldn't have liked it at all. Maybe it would have become a song that is more hers than it is mine.

If somehow she answered, maybe I could have an excuse to tell her how I was always right but also so wrong all this time. That I knew there was something wrong with me, even when she decided to ignore it. That I should've treated her with more patience, because she too was also not at all there. Always so ironic how we pushed and chastised each other while neither being able to control how we are, or even fully aware of it.

Then I would have a closure so enlightening I would forget the regret, so forceful I could die peacefully. But we don't acknowledge each other anymore and I can't have my closure. Feeling the release of pain, doubt, and regret is great, but it isn't a right we get every time. She wanted me to never disturb her again and I'm not willing to break this contract. Maybe she also wants to tell me some last few notions about us, but she's stuck in the same dilemma as me.

How perfect it would be to just talk one last time, but when it is over, it is over. You have to let go, loose ends included.

I always thought of myself as being trapped inside a dark room. Where there are no windows and the darkness encompasses every object within it. Where I know there is a light bulb, but it is turned off, the switch lost between the mess and my clumsiness. Where I hope there is a door, though I do not know how to reach it. Each day, I'm stumbling through all the furniture and possessions inside, bruising my legs, my arms, cutting my hands when I pick up something I shouldn't have. If only I could turn the lights on, I could get out.

Each day passing just like the last one. I don't know any better but I'm still not used to the darkness. Each day I remember how I never quite felt like everybody else, but if only I could find the light switch, I would be the same as them. Treating it as just a problem of not knowing how to navigate this room. At some point, I would learn how to walk in the darkness, like everybody else, and I would turn the lights on, and I would be on my way to the outside.

There are some delusions we tell ourselves to reject the pain we feel. The delusions feel good for a long time, but then they cause their own pain too. Sometimes, the pain is so great, that you would rather finally accept the truth you kept hiding for so long.

When I decided that I had enough of harming myself from playing in the dark, I thought I could finally accept that I was scared of seeing everything clearly. For when I finally found the light switch and turned it on, there weren't any doors in the room, and all the objects inside of it reminded me of all the memories I had buried long ago.

Now it is too late. The pain that I had deluded myself into thinking I could wish away, is still with me. The pain has always been tied to my very core, to kill it would involve killing myself too. Even going back to the darkness would not erase this fact. I have seen every nook and cranny of this room, bathed in the light I wished for so longingly that I now resent.

The only thing left is to accept the pain, not as something that I need to remove, not as something I need to hide, but as something that is fundamental to me. This is the hardest part. I always knew I was slowly killing myself, but I thought it was a fair price to not accept I'm not normal.

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