Somewhere on a mostly deserted beach on the Big Sur coast of Northern California, I was struggling to achieve full lotus, scintillating with wildflowers and waves and wind, and feeling as ecstatic as I’ve ever felt in my whole life, doubly inspired by the psilocybe cubensis and proximity of my Best Friends, and basically trying to stop laughing so I could stop crying. It seemed as literal as enlightenment could get, and my enlightenment was that it was both funny and disheartening how life just rolls on by entirely indifferent to you.
Take for instance how there was no Philip Glass playing when I found an appropriate lull in the dinner conversation behooving me to leave the kitchen table and take my baggage upstairs to my room. Or how the weeks/months that followed were witness to some of the raddest Californian sunsets of any summer ever, and even some pretty enthralling acts of Human Kindness in unlikely places. One unlikely place: a downtown San Francisco hotel room, where I’m shirtless, straddling an attractive and sweaty Northern European-looking boy who’s about to start his freshman year at Berkeley, drumming on his chest to the beat of "I Summon You."
So but then, in walks an old girlfriend (invited—it’s a hotel party), accompanied by an, um, acquaintance from high school (not invited). Uninvited goes to church with my parents, and had once remarked that we really ought to be friends since, he said: “You're one of the only other Christians I know who’s as smart as me.” ....
Aside: one of the reasons I got beer cans thrown at me freshman year is that I’m not a good schmoozer, and sometimes frat parties require serious schmoozing, and in those situations it’s not always the best idea to feign parodic self-importance in the presence of the men whose names are on the lease for Blue House or wherever.
And so after dismounting I mentally prep for schmooze mode (Christian schmoozing—debatably harder) and immediately get the sinking feeling in my chest via: “So I heard what happened with you and your parents this summer.”
“Yeah...it wasn’t...that bad. Do you—uh—still see them oft— ”
“—No so listen, my parents are totally aware of the, um, situation and I just want you to know if you ever needed anything, a place to stay or anything, they—WE...would be totally cool with that. I’m really sorry.”
Dumbfoundedness ensued. Even within the same church, gradations of tolerance, and I just ended up on the wrong end. Goddamn. My plan of staying away from home as much as possible (tricky given my unemployment and sharing of a car with my also-unemployed and thus super-social mother) was fairly successful in terms of avoiding tête-à-tête confrontation, but was peppered with various hiccups in the way of:
1. Finding indiscreetly placed “literature” Mom had culled from various online sources for me about the prevalence of STDs and stunted average life span of gay men.
2. Hearing news down the grapevine, from my oldest sister, that I had apparently acquired one of these STDs. Well, what the doctor diagnosed as a poison oak rash following excessive amounts of time traipsing the poison oak-infested hillsides of Big Sur, Mom had chalked off as an unsolved medical mystery, and had her own diagnosis to offer.
3. Mom visited me after I was released from an eight day hospital stint (non STD-related, assuredly) and, after having a generally O.K. time together, a fight erupted. She called me cold (probably true) and compared me to her abusive, alcoholic ex-husband (I'm skeptical here) and bid me part with, “Have a good life. I still love you,” i.e. probably the most traumatizing thing anyone has ever said to me. At least I’m pretty sure it traumatized me. I was kind of busy being auto-piloted by emotional stoicism and re-readying my game face as I prepared for visiting friends and more parties, traveling, and school.
So like, back to life’s vague projection of indifference: I’m still the star of my own little selfish narrative, but after serious consideration, I’ve decided that I can’t just rule certain people out of my life who have paid two hundred-something thousand dollars for my education and still love me to a fault. The materialness of it even makes my so-called sacrifice of, idk, ideology or acceptance or something sound downright petty in comparison. Life rolls on, and even scary, moralistic injuriousness, Family is one of those things I have a little bit of ungrounded faith in, despite my disillusionment with the filial concept as whole, among other things (I’ve recently been obsessed with depression in some abstract way, like wondering what it’d be like to be a suicidal gay teenager and then watch this and have my life saved.) Plus, I do have comfort in my own skin on my side. I’m more a Kinsey 4 than 3 now, etc. So I figure I can deal with a shit-ton of extra scrutiny or computer espionage or whatever it is my Mom does to essentially undermine the purpose of my anonymity on the blog (the days of E.F. are numbered, that’s for sure). Even the combined gravity of Perfume Genius and David Foster Wallace can’t dampen my spirits. And although D.F.W. did in fact kill himself, life to me right now seems like an endless swim race, swimming being an activity that I suck at and don’t particularly enjoy but still do because it feels like it will pay off in the end, and I know I won't be one of the tragic few who end up drowning. As I’m going I have to keep reminding myself: this is water!