It is 4:28 a.m. By now I have been awake for three hours. One of the seven roommates snores and two girls made their grand entree a minute ago. Slamming doors, turning on lights, discussing their level of drunkenness - do I love dorm rooms. Cussing in Dutch doesn’t seem to work, but I give it a try regardless.
I manage to remain a pacifist and head downstairs. The lights are still out, darkness how appropriate you are. The lobby is deserted, a miracle. For the first time in weeks I sit in silence. No one tries to strike up a conversation, no one tells me about their passions. I don’t feel obligated to ask about their dreams, so I can focus on my nightmare.
That sentence might raise a brow. People frequently tell me how they’d love to be in my position. But honestly they wouldn’t. Yes, I visit nice places. But flying to the other side of the world is merely changing coordinates, the person remains the same. My standard state of mind is still a flatline and I am not a happy man.
I go to see a waterfall or look at a mountain, but whilst I do the pain accompanies me. Blinking eyes, breathing, talking, moving: it all hurts. I can’t even hold a conversation without my stomach turning. And when the day ends and the curtain calls, the lights go out and my thoughts fade to black.
I endure it and move on despite of this. But there’s no cape wrapped around my shoulders. At most there are some leggings and underwear laying around on the bedroom floor from time to time.
My fingers slide over my notebook. It is starting to look rugged. Pages filled with sarcasm, sex and thoughts that will never see the light of day. I shake my head and wonder how these depressing words found their way to the paper today.
I know why. The girl I tried to kiss last night politely declined. I went for her lips and landed on her cheek. That’s okay, she doesn’t owe me anything. It does however fuel my melancholy.
No one is looking, so I let my facial expression be what it wants to be and put my hands in front of my blank face. I try to track the trail of my train of thought, but stones come rolling in and start painting it black. Transparent machetes strike down on my head and neck. Whilst the decapitation commences I try not to lose my mind.
I am tired, I am so fucking tired.
Laughter and more doors slamming. The girl I like stumbles into the lobby. She’s drunk and holds hands with some skinny guy in similar jeans - the girl I liked. She greets me, visibly uncomfortable. My skull is being made love to by well hung demons, whilst every positive thought I possess gets quartered. As if I give a fuck about a random girl right now.
The twenty-something year old boy in his tights makes some semi-clever remark about me not being able to sleep and he hopes for a compliant response. I look at his bright orange snapback and stare at my scarred, overused knuckles. I let them pass and let it pass. He may have the first prize in the pissing contest. Let them think whatever.
An hour goes by and employees start walking in. I don’t care for having an image as being a loner, so I get up, decide to go to the gym and act as if life is marvellous and I’m untouchable. I breathe in, out and repeat. The trick to staying alive.
The door to the dormitory is already open. I try to be quiet whilst voices in my head scream. I change my clothes, grab a towel from my locker and notice that someone stole fifty euros.
I close my eyes, feel nausea, pain and a supernova of aggression. I throw a pack of condoms to the ground. The world can go and fuck itself.
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Your fellow brain-injured friend here, Vic - this is perfection. I so appreciate your description of your feelings, the pain, the inability to escape it. Describing it to others is a feat the non-injured can't fully appreciate, but it's some of the most important work we can do.