“Something I’ve noticed, maybe it’s just because I’ve been hanging out with the wrong crowd, is that at some point or another people think they’re weird,” he said. “Like they’re special or unique.”
“Ah?” I said between mouthfuls of peppers, meat and rice. Damn, this guy knows how to make good curry.
“Like they all think, ‘Wow, I’m so weird, why do people hang out with me?'”
“Ah. I know what you mean. You know, like I swear, word for word I’ve had different people tell me, ‘I feel like I’m just on autopilot’ through life.”
“Yeah. I think it’s because it’s just how– maybe it’s different in other countries– but at least in America, it’s just how our society is. It’s expected for us to go through college and we’re pressured to do a lot.”
He desired to interact with people on a deeper level on the regular basis, but our culture’s a little bit too prissy for that.
“I know what you mean,” I said for what felt like the hundredth time and laughed. “It’s like, I wish I didn’t have to wait until 2 or 3 o’ clock in the morning to have a meaningful conversation with you. Like hey, why can’t I just have this conversation with you at Starbucks– or any coffee shop– in the afternoon?”
It was his turn to laugh. “It’s a little different though, the atmosphere. It’s all about the environment that you’re in, right?”
Lately I noticed that I’ve become a stress eater. Whenever that exam’s coming up, things aren’t going my way or I feel like I didn’t live up to my own expectations, food’s right at my door. Why hello, Mr. Late-Night Diner! How lovely to see you again. Yes, I would love to have some gravy on top of that– while we’re at it, let’s get a few Mountain Dews too, hm?
So in an effort to be healthier, I turned towards jogging. If something’s ever on my mind for too long or I begin to feel lethargic, I put on my sneakers and get the hell out the door. I guess it’s like I’m literally running away from my problems (ha!). The idea is this: if I just wear myself out, I’ll be too tired to think. Works like magic.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m horribly, tragically and wonderfully in love with the night. When I’m with him, I feel the most alive and creative as I possibly can be– and our affair happens all the while the rest of the world’s asleep. If there’s a chance to be with him, I take it even though I know it’s bad for me in the long run. There’s something I find extremely comforting in his silence, our silence, that’s reassuring.
It didn’t come as a surprise then, when I found myself always running past 9 pm– sometimes around 11 or even midnight.
My usual routine: runrunrun, take a break and then run back home. There’s a small creek on one of our college quads that I really enjoy chilling at. I find the place to be a little meditative, just isolated enough to be a safe haven but it’s a huge public space, so it’s not A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The day was oddly hot. I glanced over at my usual rest area and noticed a young couple sitting bluntly in the middle of it all– so I’m like OK, let them enjoy their moment. Ah, young love. Let me just go over to this extremely dark area by the bridge, it’s whatever.
I stretched for a bit and then began to enjoy the moment. Took a deep breath and looked at everything around me. I found myself captivated by the water, the way the light bounced off the surface. How fast was the water moving? Could I see the bottom? What’s down there anyway?
I must have leaned too far in. The next thing you know, I notice a huge blur from my peripheral. “Hey!”
I looked up. She was a woman of average height, hair up in a ponytail with a friendly demeanor. She had a backpack on and casual clothing. I took out my ear pud with a feeling of uncertainty. “Hi.” Can I help you?
“Are you okay?” she asked with an European accent. What? Of course.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” I said with a smile. It took me a a moment to connect the situation together: how I was sitting near the edge, how her brows were furrowed in concern, and how I was staring down at the water, the bottom of the abyss–
Oh my god. This woman thinks I’m suicidal. I laughed without thinking. “Thank you. Thank you though.”
“Ah, alright, I was just making sure,” she said before going on her way. Before I could really understand what was going on, she turned her head back as if she doubted my answer. Did she expect me to jump the moment she turned her back on me? I smiled at her again, not sure if that assured her any.
I looked at the water again. Squinted real hard. The water was only around ankle deep. Maybe I’d break a few limbs, but not die.
What a nice gesture, I wrote on my Facebook status after describing the incident. In retrospect, I should’ve worded things more carefully. A few friends asked if I was okay– I wondered if “suicidal” was going to be the next thing associated with me. I guess in a kind of sad way, the foreign woman taking the time out to make sure I was okay restored my faith in humanity. Just by a little bit.
Life is so odd.