“I came,” she said, “hoping you could talk me out of a fantasy.” “Cherish it!” cried Hilarious, fiercely. “What else do any of you have? Hold it tightly by it’s little tentacle, don’t let the Freudians coax it away or the pharmacists poison it out of you. Whatever it is, hold it dear, for when you lose it you go over by that much to the others. You begin to cease to be.” (The Crying of Lot 49)
I’ve developed an uneasy relationship with the world. Not in the narcissistic sense that some power was hunting me, nothing that crude. It’s more a deep frustration with the fact that everything has devolved into a sequence of: wake up, do some shit, go to sleep and get paid every other Friday. And the accompanying sadness that rather than snapping out of it, I’m actively perpetuating it. I feel as if I was expelled from Eden, wherever that used to be. Not vengefully, as if I had eaten some sort of psychedelic fruit just to be contrary. More lazily, like a hobbit who has slowly meandered off the path in Mirkwood and been caught ever since in a haze of the secular and the dull.
The worst part is that the bullshit I need to contend with grows exponentially by the year. Pay your credit card bill. Find an apartment. Get a job. Work 60 hours a week. Commute. Pay your cable bill. Get food. You need food to live The Leach and you’re hungry so why don’t you get off your ass and fucking nourish yourself holy shit this is basic human instinct why doesn’t it drive you? Why doesn’t the internet work? The remote’s broken. What even is a router? How do you turn off the heat? This is awful I’m sweating in the winter, should I call the landlord? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Things haven’t always been this mundane – the world is built upon the backs of its myths and lives are no exception. I may be pretty deep into the map at this point, but if I could find my way far enough back to the beginning, the edge of the scroll… there would be something there. Surely. Faded arrows aimed at lands far out of reach, alongside inscriptions speaking of dragons, wreathed in flame.
I used to believe in fucking magic. And Santa and God, and that there was a better than evens chance I was immortal. Not great odds but a punters chance, you know, like a 1/30 shot. I would have even accepted a fatal flaw of some type… an Achilles elbow or Adams apple. Whatever. I used to believe that my teddy bear – when strategically placed over my neck – would be protection enough against whatever vampires came out of the woodwork at night. In retrospect I don’t think I gave vampires much credit.
There is no single moment of epiphany. These beliefs aren’t lost so suddenly – the world patiently erodes them over time. That said, not getting the letter from Hogwarts was likely the beginning of the end. Unfortunately at this point most of the fantasies are gone. I could walk up the stairs to my room without looking back for monsters by 10. By 12 I didn’t even need the light. A teddy bear no longer protects my neck, it’s just nestled there out of habit. I don’t fear the dark, and can only fly in my dreams. Those losses always seemed to correspond with some life development due to getting older. Realized you’re probably not a wizard? It’s cool, middle school starts this year. Don’t fear zombies anymore? Great, also people are having sex now, apparently. Go fuck someone to celebrate – odds they try to eat you just dropped significantly. Is God no longer a protective, comforting force in your life? It’s almost ok, you’re 21 now. Here’s a bottle of whiskey. You’re going to need it. The trades have never been fair: blowjobs have nothing on magic, and alcoholism is a poor substitute for faith.
That said, it’s not all gone. I remember being in London and craving Subway at 3am. It was pitch black, and an eerie courtyard and deserted streets lay between me and a mediocre footlong. Ten year old me would never have made that trip – there could have been anything out there in the dark. Twenty year old me made the trip…. But after about 15 minutes of convincing himself that there was nothing there and that ghosts weren’t real and everything would be fine. Even after steeling himself for the occasion, he still sprinted to Subway and back, his sad little eyes darting fearfully from shadow to shadow. It was pathetic, like he thought he could confirm for himself that he was truly alone by zeroing in frantically on everywhere and seeing nothing incriminating, as if not seeing something anywhere truly confirmed that he was alone.