Here’s the story of sweat, ambition, and laziness.
You know summer is here when you have to spend 10 minutes in the morning peeling your bed sheets off your buttocks. One can often be left with two ovals of hair on the bed sheets that I am told are very hard to remove. This may be more information than you want, but I think it can be forgiven when it is so darn hot that even typing leaves one breathless. Heck, it’s so hot I’m out of breath walking up the stairs. I have to stop and have a little oxygen-huffing break. It’s so damn hot my hair is starting to look like the hair of Diana Ross. I can’t begin to tell you how ridiculous it is being nearly 25, skinny, pasty, bespectacled, and having a huge frizzy Afro. I suppose I could cut my very long hair, now beyond the shoulder line, but I just can’t. It’s just so gosh-darn beautiful…
But I’m not one of these modern men, a metrosexual type. My hair is the only nice thing about me. The rest of me looks like an inside out turkey. Dating websites would reject me for being beyond hope. Life was much simpler before the internet. There was no pressure back then. If a date didn’t go well, you’d end it amicably, shake hands and all would be swell. Nowadays though, people take to social media. ‘He was okay, but his bed sheets had these two really hairy patches, and I’m not sure what they were…’
The point is, the sooner summer buggers off, the better. Then comes winter and the streets will be quieter. No more young’uns camped in the parks and public spaces with their ‘socialising’ and ‘modern music’ blasting out of these clever mobile touch whatchamacallits. No more teenage boys dancing topless in the fountains. I hate it when they do that. Have they no idea how expensive it is to fix the damage to the nozzles? And it’s paid for out of the council tax. So when those kids are older, they’ll be the ones paying for the damage. That’s irony for you. I think. I could go and look up the definition in my dictionary but it is a couple yards away and I can barely move because of this sizzling heat wave.
At least those teenagers are only topless. It’s a miracle I haven’t seen anyone fully naked yet. Although, that said, fully naked would certainly be more justifiable than doing it on top of a very cold and very sacred mountain…
Still doesn’t beat the summer of 2008, though. I had to walk home from college, for all of three miles, in extreme heat. I was also carrying a large folder. I had to walk because I didn’t have any bus fare and nobody would give me a lift. Bastards.
I haven’t seen many of my school and college chums since I left those places. Sometimes, curiosity gets the better of me and I go searching for them on social media. And there are the odd times I bump into an old acquaintance from those old days. I often wonder what they would make of me.
Just this week, I found someone on Facebook who was in my class at college. Being a nosy parker, I thought I’d have a snoop around. She’s a year younger than I am. Lives in a big city. Earning a huge amount of money. Has a little boy. About to get married. We both left college only four years ago. What if I met her tomorrow? I have only one coat and it’s the exact same one I had seven years ago. It’s the same story with my one pair of shoes. “Oh, I haven’t seen you in years! What’s new, honey? What’s been happening?” “Hmm, well, I haven’t done much. Or anything. I still have the same coat that I did when we last saw each other. You?” “I’m a mother now, just got engaged!” “Oh, that’s… that’s, nice. Well, I have a can of beans that need to be eaten with an old spoon in a very poorly lit room, but nice seeing you again…”
She’s not the only one who has achieved that much from my class. Quite a few have really good jobs now, some have kids and some are married. Four years. Jesus, people don’t hang around long these days. I don’t think any of them are still living in this town. Most have spread across the big cities of the UK and some are now living abroad. That’s a shame. This is a nice town. I wouldn’t leave for the world. But it’s the kind of place that all young people dream of leaving the second they’re old enough. But ignore them, it’s lovely here. You’re very welcome. I mean, there’s absolutely nothing to do, but still, you’re very welcome.
But it’s not just college chums doing well. The folks in my year at secondary school are all doing really well, too. The closest person I had to a friend is 26 now, I haven’t seen him in years. He’s married. Has a kid. Living in London. Really good job. A few of my year are living in and around London now, actually. Some married and some with children. Some are living abroad. And here I am. Probably one of a very small number still here. In the old town. Wearing the same clothes and shoes I had seven years ago.
I can go even further back, too. My mum works in my old primary school. Has done for over 20 years. She often moved me to the front of the dinner queue so I’d get the best food. I loved that. Someone from my class at that school has just started working there. I left in 1999. The 90s was a long time ago. I’ve seen people from my primary school since but they’ve just walked right passed me, so I naturally assumed no one from that long ago would remember me. But this girl who just started working there, when she saw my mum, the first thing she said was, “How’s Alan?” I remember her very well. She was the prettiest girl in the year. I can’t quite believe she remembered me, though. You know what my mother’s response to her question was? Glad you asked.
“Oh, you know him. Never changes. Never does anything. Lazy. Can’t get a job. Exactly the same as he always has been.”
Oh, gee, thanks mum. That’s one hell of an endorsement…
I wonder if anyone else remembers me. I wonder if Dan remembers me, a little kid I was tasked with looking after. Lovely kid. I wonder if the twins remember me. We had identical twins in my year. Both really liked me. This was a problem because I could never tell them apart. How was I supposed to choose between them? I even wonder if Lotte remembers me. What we got up to shall forever remain a secret…
What would all these people with all their achievements think of me? Have I lived up to expectations or am I a failure? I can’t believe what some of them have achieved in such a short space of time. I’ve heard people shout my name when I’m out and about. It very rarely happens, but it has happened. These people could be old friends, classmates or acquaintances. But I ignore them and carry on walking. And if I’m with someone, they’ll ask me who it is shouting my name and I’ll shrug my shoulders, just so the person shouting will think I’ve forgotten them. But I haven’t. I remember every person from every class. I’m just worried what they’ll think of me. “How’s life going?” “Erm, I don’t have one…”
I’m happy for all these people, of course I am. But when you compare all their achievements in such a short space of time to my achievements in the same time, I’ve achieved nothing. I’ve stood still. But that’s not deliberate or for a lack of trying, it comes down to being introverted. Every decision for us consumes us with fear, guilt, trepidation, anxiety and shame, all rolled up in one huge ball of doubt and misery. Life is like quicksand – one is constantly battling against suffocation and drowning. And all this makes many decisions insurmountable and one’s judgment a mass of tangled wires. And then you see what others have done and the heights they’ve reached and you become consumed with something some would perceive as jealousy, when in fact it’s envy of those who are not trapped in a cage of insufferable shyness. And you can’t break out of this cage because your brain won’t let you. It consigns you to a life of servitude to a master that doesn’t allow expression, creativeness and, in some respects, free will.
I’m not saying I don’t have a good life. I know there are many who don’t have what I have and I know I’m lucky for that. I know it’s not right to compare oneself to those I knew who are doing so incredibly well. But I can’t shake that comparison. It’s like a virus eating away at my brain for some reason. Ignorance really is bliss.
I don’t know where I’ll be in five years time. I’ll hopefully have a job by then. And a little place of my own where I can grow old all by myself and then die and not be discovered until I’ve turned into a puddle of goo. And by then, I’ll have my weekly visits to mother and father in their old people’s home. They’ll be over 70 by then. And I’ll be a 30-year-old virgin. Unless somebody reading this has no standards whatsoever and happens to be living in northeast England, in which case, give me a call…
I’ve had a very strange few weeks and the weeks and months to come are going to get even stranger and, in all likelihood, leave me quite miserable. But you never know, readers, what the future will hold. Maybe yet there’s still hope that somewhere in the sky there is a star with my name on it that will herald good times to come.
Although I don’t think any change is gonna happen any time soon. It’s so hot I am quite literally welded to my bed and lack any kind of energy to even move.
You know, I think mum was correct with her ‘lazy’ comment…
American novelist, Roman Payne (b. 1977), once said: “You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”
Peace Out :|:
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the archives page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other two blogs:
To Contrive & Jive
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post
Hark Around the Words
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post