Outside the sky is blue and covered in flecks of white dots that double as clouds. Cumulus nimbus is what my junior high school teacher called them, at least I think that is what he said. Can't say that I remember all that well, or maybe the problem is that I remember far too well. I remember the days when I fit in and felt like a part of society.
I know, it sounds screwy. If you know me you'd never have a clue that I am a lonely man. You wouldn't guess that my days feel like they have no meaning at all. I am a good actor. That smile I paste across my face and the silly banter are all part of my disguise. A shield that I use to keep people from seeing that the man is nothing more than shell of a person.
I know, you're thinking that it sounds tired, a cliche and somewhat pathetic to say these things. It is hard for me to write them and even harder for me to accept that the boy who showed so much promise grew into the man who has yet to fulfill one of his dreams. Not one single dream, not one.
My friend Mike says that the reason that I haven't managed to fulfill one single dream is that they aren't ordinary dreams. They aren't the type of thing that you can just do. He says that I should take it easy on myself because dream fulfillment doesn't take place over night. He says that it is better this way because if I fly too close to the sun than I'll really earn the name Icarus.
I tell him that I need to do better, that I can't wait for Godot to show up and help me. He just laughs and tells me that I am being too hard on myself and that if I would just ease up I'd be happier.
Maybe he is right.
The thing is that when I look around all I see are people who look happier than me. All around me are couples holding hands, looking dreamily into each other's eyes. All around me are people who walk confidently into wherever it is they are going. Surely they don't feel like I do. They couldn't possibly exude that much confidence without feeling it.
Mike says that I am crazy. Mike says that some of those people are hiding behind their smiles, just like I do. I tell Mike that I feel like one of those sneetches that didn't get the star. I feel like the kid who missed hearing the teacher's instructions. Everyone else knows how to play the game of life and I don't.
Every now and then Mike makes sense to me so I try to do as he says. I take his words to heart and try to apply them. I look around my office and imagine that they are all scared and lonely too. It works for a while and then I start to get nervous.
I start wondering if maybe Mike isn't confused. I start thinking that maybe Mike isn't so smart and that maybe he is the one that needs to be set straight. And every now and then I find myself in a heated argument with Mike because sometimes he needs to be confronted about these things. I may feel like I am lost. I may feel like I am the only one who doesn't get it, but even I know a thing or two.
I may hide behind my smile, but it doesn't mean that I haven't learned something. And then in the middle of my righteous indignation I remember that Mike really isn't such a good role model. He really doesn't know any more than I do.
And most importantly I remember that the reason I have never introduced my mother to Mike is because if she saw me introduce her to the guy in the mirror she'd think that I was making a joke and she might laugh. And if she laughed that would hurt Mike's feelings. He might not know so much, but he is still a person and you shouldn't intentionally hurt a person's feelings.
*****Sometimes I forget when and where I met Mike. I don't know if it really matters because Mike is the best and truest friend I got. He is the only one who never leaves me and the only one who listens to all I got to say.
And believe me, I got a lot.
There used to be others. There used to be them that got my best interest in mind and those that claimed they did. I don't remember all of their names because when you live the hard scrabble life you start to unlearn that which you once knew.
You can't carry all them hopes and dreams you once had because they aren't real. The streets are real, oh yeah, they are real. If you ain't real you don't make it for very long on the streets.
That is part of why I like Mike and why I need him. He keeps me focused. He doesn't let me feel bad about what happened because it wasn't my fault.
We were walking down Michigan Avenue. It was bright and sunny. She was holding my hand and she never let go. Even after that car jumped the curb and pinned her against the building she never stopped holding my hand.
I tried to pull it off of her. Tried to push it. Did everything that I could do but it didn't matter, cuz she died anyway.
I couldn't save her. Couldn't hold her and make her feel better or stop the pain. Don't know why it hit her and not me. I was so much bigger. Why didn't it hit me. Why did they have to take her. Why not me. She was better than I was and so much better than I am now.
She told me to stop screaming. Said that I should calm down, even as the life was running out of her and heading somewhere else she was taking care of me.
I should have protected her better. I should have seen it coming. I should have heard it. Could have done something more, I know I could have.
Mike tells me that I should finish letting go and just forget. He says that there ain't no point in thinking about her or remembering 'cuz it only hurts us.
Mike says that it is good that I hit the driver 'cuz he was drunk and it is his fault that we are what we are today. He says that I should be proud that it took so many people to pull me off of that guy. He says that it is good that I crippled that guy because I am crippled now.
But sometimes I don't like it when he says it because she wouldn't have wanted it. She would have told me it was an accident and that I should let go. But that is the thing, I did let go. That accident forced me to let go.
I ain't who I was and haven't been for years. Now I am just a shadow who walks the streets. Mostly I keep to myself, but sometimes people mess with me. usually I growl at them and they run away but sometimes the stupid and mean ones do more.
That is ok with me. I like stupid and mean because when I am angry I fight. And when I fight I forget about being so damn lonely.