Suicide no. 46: Nostalgia
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
Where did it all go?
There were days…weeks…when walking the lonely railroad tracks leading into town while hearing nothing but evening traffic and crickets and feeling nothing but a warm, summer breeze and the delight of youth made me feel alive. Every sign and chunk of coal had a million memories. Every color shone a different mood—a contextual light—onto the fabric of my soul. That was life.
I was alive.
I’d leave the house at night, sneaking out through the window while my parents slept, and just walk. I’d go nowhere, for no purpose—outside of the journey itself. Isn’t that what they say? That “life’s a journey, not a destination?”
That idea somehow and slowly became more ludicrous every day.
With each mounting responsibility of growing old comes the anxiety associated with having to bear a burden. I remember my parents taking my sister and I to the Virgin Islands. We spent a week there in the brilliant sun. At least I did—they spent the whole week arguing over dinner service and traffic and flight schedules and budgeting issues and ad infinitum.
To the extent that it may as well, for those poor and wretched souls, have been no vacation at all.
Is aging simply the process by which we forget why we were ever alive, only to inherit the weight of the world in exchange for our youth? Do we merely trade in that which makes us feel alive to attain the false sense of freedom that comes with wage slavery? I once heard my mother say “The only reason I keep pressing forward is for you two girls.” It sounded so pointlessly stupid.
I only hope she wasn’t right.
Out of everything I’ve seen in my parents, though, she seems to be more right each and every day.
I find myself staring deeper and deeper into mirrors when I look at myself. Part of me sees a young girl, wanting to become older—wanting to be a woman. Another part of me wishes that I’d never reach that point—for, if I did, where would I go from there? The language of life speaks to me, spelling out entire tomes of inanity that wither me from the inside out.
On those walks, I saw the trees in the glorious light of summer, and, despite the asphalt and coal dust blowing in the breeze, I wanted to inhale every ounce of warm air so deep into my lungs that I could keep it there forever. I wanted to feel every note in every song I ever heard until it rang out deep within me for eternity. My wings wanted to touch the sun. Perhaps, for a moment, they did.
Now, I’ve flown too close. With every step I make toward going out into the world, I find my growth and life stunted by that which I must become to survive. Now, sixteen and almost seventeen, I see a lifetime of chores ahead of me. I feel a sort of winter coming in which there is no return to spring.
Rather than wilt and wither away with age, I’d simply rather not face it.