Floating in the Red Light
I walked into the vintage clothing store Buffalo Exchange to sell several shirts, sweaters, pants, hats, and other clothing items that I wanted to dispose. I was cleaning house. Although everything was crumpled up in my backpack, they were all nice clothes, and some of them hadn’t been worn much. The woman at the counter sorted through everything to see what exactly they would want to keep to resell. She told me they would give me 30% of the total cost they decided. As I watched her sort through everything, I assumed I’d probably get around one hundred dollars. But as she folded the last shirt, she said, “We’ll just take this one.” Confused, I looked and saw that the only shirt she decided to resell was an old t-shirt that said “free Brady” – as in Tom. Of all my clothes, the only one they wanted was a colored shirt with a giant Tom Brady face on it. Someone will buy that to wear it ironically or because maybe they’re a skater boy and think it’s just a cool look for them. That’s fine. She handed me the large pile of my clothes she hated, and I crumpled them all back into my backpack. She then opened the cash register and handed me two dollars and forty cents. There are moments like these every day that remind me, I am a child.
I’m a child because when I didn’t have anywhere to put my gum, I spit it in my hand and gently placed it into my pant pocket. When I arrived home, I was exhausted and fell into bed, forgetting about my gum. I toss and turn. I awoke to find the gum fell out of my pocket and many strands of gum had stuck all over my sheets. I am subletting this room, and these are not my sheets, so I told the owner that I had cut myself and bled all over his sheets without knowing. He bought me new sheets.
I’m a child because several articles of clothing I regularly wear have paint stains on them. All my clothes are wrinkled. I haven’t showered in three days.
I’m a child because I crave honest conversations. I want people to be fully open and honest with me and everyone all the time. I want to know everything. I don’t want anyone to have any problems. And yet I create problems constantly and am a compulsive liar.
I’m a child because everyone who walks past me seems so tall.
I’m a child because my lung doctor had me breathe into various tubes to measure my lungs. He then printed out a sheet of paper, which he handed to me that read lung age: 82. He gave me an inhaler, which I am supposed to use every day. I have not used this inhaler in years, and I call a professional I see a "lung doctor."
I’m a child because the most joy I had in 2019 was standing on my fire escape, smoking cigarettes.
I’m a child because multiple times in the past couple months, I have made elaborate plans with different friends regarding my future. I told one friend I will move with her to Cleveland after graduation to start our own original comedy group and put on shows all over the city. I told another friend that we should go sailing with this sailor I met online who lives in New Zealand. We’ll spend the summer on his boat. I told another friend I am going to spend the whole summer in Canada. I told my parents I’m staying in New York to take classes. I tell myself every day I will drop out of school tomorrow. I see myself crushing it on SNL, making meaningful movies that I write, direct, and star in. And I see myself living with the woman who never loved me.
I’m a child because I pick my nose. And I want everyone to acknowledge that everyone picks their nose.
I’m a child because I am unable to control and cope with my emotions. I feel a lot. I always have. And I don’t talk about it. I repress most things. I internalize them. The last time I dealt with extreme sadness was last night. I did not cry. Instead, I put on shoes, grabbed a football, and sprinted out of my apartment. I ran four miles to the Hudson River. Pier 45. I’ve been there in emotionally destructive states before. I ran. I ran and ran. When I reached the pier, my run turned into a sprint. When I reached the water, I screamed, as I hurled my football into the air. I watched it splash as it settled on the water. It floats. And it will maybe kill a dolphin one day. I threw it. And yet I talk about how I recycle and care about the environment. I put a plastic water bottle in the garbage this morning. The football floated in the red light, reflecting on the water from a hotel across the river. The now red football looked at me. It let me know I made a mistake. Let me know my life was a mistake. This made me smile. I like being destructive. I like to scare. I like to hurt. I like to explode. It’s exhilarating. It’s art. I might always be like this. One day, I might change. But right now, I’m a child.
©2023 Jake Schick