Home > Uncategorized > Invisible in the hallway…

Invisible in the hallway…

I can still remember. Those days.

Being a teen. Lost in crowds and hallways and only feeling safe in my room, or after a quickly slammed 6 pack paid for with money my Mom thought was for a post-game burger and fries.

Most of us had no confidants. We were on our own…….navigating the ups and downs and further-downs of adolescence, with only our acne and insecurity for company. Sleep was a refuge, the only time when we didn’t have to make up our own dreams. During sleep they came on their own….like the previews you aren’t expecting before the movie. So…..on the weekends we’d push on until mid-day. Pleasantly oblivious.

stressSchool was a 6+ hour battle royal intended to jump-start every neurosis we’d managed to keep in check during off hours. Filled with bullies and stoners and freaks and mindless jocks and girls who, if you caught their eye at all, would only giggle. Classes were a hodge-podge of things you didn’t care about mixed with things you could not retain despite constant attempts at rote memorization. If you had any type of gift at all that didn’t involve a ball of some kind, you felt like a freak and kept it to yourself. Even the teachers seemed bored, falling through the doors at the end of the day with the same 1000 yard stare you had. School was an endurance test.

I remember watching the movie “The Exorcist” in this kids’ basement when we were maybe 14…..and then walking home with this other guy, and neither of us able to admit to the other that we were terrified. Then we reached a long dark alley that we had to walk down, and at the same exact time we both took off on a dead sprint until we reached the lighted main road. We just started walking again and didn’t mention a thing. In retrospect this sorta summed up being a teenager for me. If you don’t talk about it, it never happened.

There was no how-to book. If you messed up being 13, you didn’t get a do-over. And if the girl you loved didn’t love you back, chances are that shit wasn’t gonna change when you were 14. Everything was life and death…..and there was no sense of time other than “forever”. You would be this awkward forever. Stuck with the big nose of jug ears forever. Afraid of that guy forever. A stuttering mess in front of that girl forever. Terrified of the devil and Max Von Sydow forever. And you would never, ever get laid.

You were taught, always, to conform. To respect authority even if you knew they were full of shit. If you disagreed, you were never right. Even if you found an alternate, more scenic route that still got you were they wanted you to go, you weren’t allowed to take it. The finish line was not the only thing provided to you.

You searched for ways to not feel this way. The drink or the joints or the pills that made it all go away for that hour or that weekend. The music that allowed you to get lost in a different part of your head, the part that screamed rebellion. That part that wasn’t scared of its own shadow. You found the books that would shape you….or the films that would inspire you. Or maybe the musical instrument that would help you tear down the wall.

It was a constant tug of war. Between wanting desperately to fit in, and being so tempted to finally say “fuck it” and break free. Being in that straitjacket, but secretly knowing how Houdini always managed to get out of it. What would happen if you finally stuck your head above the parapet? Somebody is gonna shoot, that’s what.

But that’s what it’s all about, and it takes the teen years to bring this into focus. Some never get past the crushing conformity, and the rules that aren’t written down anywhere but everybody is expected to know. They go off into the world with their conference championship trophies and their squeaky cheerleader voices and sing “Glory Days” when it plays on the jukebox at the same bar that winked at their first fake ID.

And some run for the hills and dodge the bullets and never look back, and have been causing the right kind of trouble ever sense.

I can’t imagine being my teen self now. With what’s out there. The haves and the have-nots and the trolls around every online corner, and the 100k a year debt for a degree that promises only that your resume will probably get read at least before they throw it away. Forty years ago you got the sense that the game wasn’t totally fair, but not that it was rigged.

I remember. The good parts and the bad parts. And the floating between that 2 that make up most of those years. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. You’re still invisible in the hallways.

Even with the passage of time, some of those same fears appear, like weeds in the cracks of a sidewalk.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 22, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Goddamn man, just, damn. Nail on head=hit. HARD.

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