EXT: A SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD
COREY, a young man in his twenties, is circling the block aimlessly.
When I was a kid, I wanted something really bad to happen to me. A true, life-changing kind of bad. The privilege of a middle-class upbringing, I guess. Going blind seemed like a good option, but maybe too inconvenient for me directly. My parents getting divorced was a popular fantasy, or having my little brother die, which is something I hoped for a lot when he wouldn't leave me alone. I think the casual cruelty of children comes from the fact that nothing seems like it could be forever when you're that age.
Besides, I didn't want the actual event to happen, not really. I wanted the excuse. I wanted to be able to run away and have everyone be worried about me but not angry with me. I guess it was sort of the same feeling as wanting to witness your own funeral. When I got a little older the feeling was more nuanced. I was at my neighbor's funeral with my mom when I was eleven. He'd been married to this lady for like fifty years, and she was always nice to me. Gave me those mints from a bowl and let me touch all of the stuffed animals in her living room. My mom and I went up to her and my mom said she was sorry that the lady's husband had died. And that lady just kind of looked at her and said, "I don't really give a damn." In a completely flat voice, too. I was old enough to be offended but not so old I could let it slide. And my mom knew I was mad about it and said, "Grief does funny things to people. You have to be understanding."
I was so jealous of that lady. I wanted to be able to say whatever I was feeling and have people take it. Not just take it, but give me back sympathy. It was like running away, with words.
I could walk back inside and do that right now, but I'd rather have her back. Dave will come up and tell me she was always such a siren at soccer games and he'll miss her smile, and I'll be able to just look at him and say "I don't give a damn." But there isn't any of the pleasure that I thought there would be.
Maybe my first instinct was better. Maybe sometimes we do want to run away, but it isn't from our messy, frustrating lives. We want to run out of our skins, away from our brains, beyond the aching, tedious, broken rhythm of our hearts.