Right now I am upstairs and eight years old reading Expedition by Wayne Barlowe in my bunk bed that is now dismantled in the garage. I am home sick from school. Right now I am home sick from school becoming in love with elaborate fantasies involving imagined worlds. Right now I am home sick, from school.
I am reading the thing from cover to cover wrapped up in a feeling of warm security that only comes when you have no responsibilities aside from healing in your bed in your house while your mother cooks you meals and your suspicious father furls his eyebrows over concern for your homework. It is full of mystery. My favorite is the painting of the two-legged alien sauntering along the edge of a forest lit up like a hundred bioluminescent Christmases at dusk. I am warm and making these things real in my heart.
And now I am downstairs alone in my underwear with cold legs at five in the morning and there is nobody in the house. His second and third books contained paintings of Hell so vivid that they kept me awake until past sunrise because I could not stop feeling them in my heart, because parts of them were not so unfamiliar. I am home, sick, from school.
Nothing is different here. It is the same moment. Only I have been gone, lost in extended fantasy. Do not tell me to ignore my thousand overscratched itches that tell me that the whole thing has stood like some kind of offending monument before the judgment of reason. I feel every unmeasurable weight of emptiness that fills the promises of this institution, and part of me disagrees but the wick at the center of the waxy myths smolders. This imagining should not be made real. This piece of paper, this fuck fuck fucking badge of universally licensed trudgery and economic segregation. Something is festering and you can't convince me I don't feel real real ill approaching the last rings of the circus. Like it's all making the world so much a better place, devoting years, years, years upon years to begrudging participation in exercises that mean nothing to anyone. And human beauty still finds a way to poke its blossoms out from between the cracks in the lifeless concrete, but that's what human beauty does forever and ever, and FUCK the concrete, here to eternity, because it covers miles of blooming soil. I knew this from the beginning, pacing at the front of my fourth grade classroom during recess, arguing with my teacher about the fallacies of her curricular agenda instead of doing my tardy homework, the whole thing still like some kind of funny joke I could dispel with rhetoric, before it spoiled to fresh anger, disappointment, loneliness. Before I carried unshakable rage through middle school, until I learned how to quiet it and play the game. And now I'm on the other side looking in, and fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck school. Talk about privilege until your lungs collapse. I don't care. This has been very crippling to some unnamable thing that is precious to me. I am a middle-class white male with a competent mind. I am standing at the top of the mountain. And I am surrounded by broken things, boredom, listlessness, addiction, limitless potential defaulted upon in every crucial way.
The technology, the very fun rap videos, the cars, the everything, I'd give it up in the blink of the eye just to be able to believe in my community and its founding myths for once in my life. This hunger has no bottom.
You tell me I am better, that I am educated because I have learned to sit in a chair for eight hours a day. I am sorry that I hate the things you have mandated me to endure. I am sorry that I have never been able to believe anything you say. You did not keep me warm when I was cold, and you did not keep me close when I was sick. Thank you for encouraging me to thwart my own youth every day of my life. I didn't need your help.
Now I'm going back upstairs to read about sightless aliens hunting with sonar across invented landscapes. And it will be made real. Because it fills my heart with wonder and I am home, sick, from school.