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Age is a loud similarity between us all. I have an age and I’m going to be daring and say you have one too. It’s loud, I suppose, because it’s always there and running about. No matter how much you wish it away or wish it still, age is a great expanding shadow that will, one day, destroy us all. Lovely right?
I apologise for making the opening of my pathetic attempt of literature so deep and thought provoking, I do that sometimes. But if you are like me and like me, like to be deep and thought provoked, well then you’re welcome.
I maybe should explain what I am writing. This is a book, if it even deserves that title, let me rephrase. This is some words formed together to make almost coherent sentences which will possibly create a few fun filled paragraphs that might bind itself together to muster what may resemble a story that may be called a book. This is something I have never attempted before, I have never required the time nor the patience to hit letters repeatedly. However I am learning and I hope I produce something at the end of this whether it be a ‘book’ or a new found hatred towards writing them.
My therapist, Mike Dawson, (if that is his real name) asked me what was really bothering me right now and the first thing that came to mind was his ugly dress sense but even though my mentality is nowhere near sane I chose not to say this out loud. Instead I said age and the concept of getting older. That was bothering me and still is for that matter. So as part of my recovery he suggested that I should write about it, I said it was a silly idea but he told me to do it anyway. He went on to mention how writing things down is a way of letting things go but still having them there. Does that make sense to you? I hope it does. He then explained that I should write as if I am talking to somebody so I’m doing that. That’s you, you are that somebody. Congratulations.
Right, if you are still reading I suppose I have no choice but to keep writing. Because the main theme for these words is age, it makes sense to write about when I was an age I am not now. Let’s go with… actually you can chose. This will require a good chunk of your concentration so please don’t use a bad chunk.
Firstly, pick a number between 1 and 10. You got it? Good. Now multiply that number by 2. I’ll give you a few seconds to do that, I know how challenging it can be. Now, would you please multiply your new number by 5. I may give you a lot more seconds to do that one. Please will you now divide your current number by your original number. Cheers. Finally, can you subtract 7 from your number? Can you do that? That’s good, thanks! You’ve been very good.
So you said 3, we shall start at 3. Shitty number though to be honest, I don’t remember much. Other than that I was small and young and stupid. Almost exactly how I am now but a little older, I’m still small. I think I was good at 3, bad stuff didn’t really happen till I was 10. Oh, I remember a bike. A red bike with stabilizers and a horn, that was a nice bike, I wonder where it is now? I wonder if it settled down and had a new kid. That’s a long time ago now so I assume it got old and tired and moved slower, maybe kids didn’t like it anymore and it got abandoned or ya know, maybe it’s still in my parent’s shed. I’ll find you bike! Oh, sorry. Yeah, go ahead… don’t be too long though with dinner, I have more to tell you.
You’re making me hungry.
So now you have been watered and fed, I shall continue. 3 wasn’t an exciting age, not really, well it might have been but I don’t remember. All I know it was better then, than it is now. Commas are funny. It’s were you’re meant to breathe right? Like you weren’t breathing before. What about a full stop then? Do you just breathe so much that you feel so calm you fall asleep? Does that happen? I don’t want to use too many full stops then. Ahh! But I have to, I’m trying to be grammatically correct-ish. Sorry, I’ll get back on track. Shall I skip to when the interesting stuff happens? It’s important for you to know though that for the first 9 years of my life I was perfectly sane.
I’m going to consult Wikipedia for this bit.
Okay, I was 10 years old, it was 1987. (I may have consulted my calculator as well.) Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the start of the year and Microsoft released Windows 2.0 at the end of the year. That just begs to question then, what happened in the middle of the year? Other than the Conservative Party being re-elected for a third term?! I hear you shout. Yes, other than that, I had my very first cigarette. GASP. I didn’t really want to write about any of this but Mike said it would be a step forward if I could think about all the triggers in my life that have left me here.
I grew up in England in the 80s, the era of music and fashion… well that’s what people say isn’t it? Surely that’s like every era though right? The 90s had music and fashion too, so did the 70s believe it or not. Yes, my first death stick. At 10. I think that could have been my first bad choice. You may think that was wrong of me, to smoke at 10, it certainly wasn’t right but you know, it could have been worse. I could have been 9. It was funny actually. My father, James, had smoked all his life. I can’t think of a time he didn’t smoke except from when he was dying, oh no, wait, I think he had a packet of Richmond next to his deathbed. So yeah, I followed my dad’s bad habits. But I can’t blame all this on him, well I can, but Mike said I shouldn’t. I didn’t start smoking on purpose, not really. By that I don’t mean I did it by accident either, the king sized Marlboro light didn’t just fall onto my lips. I certainly put it there – I remember it very fondly. You feel so badass, I’m not even kidding. I knew the dangers but that only made me want it more. It wasn’t till the grand old age of 16 where I discovered the range of possibilities that came with a cigarette filter and paper. I may talk to you about that later. Cigarettes became my escape. Marlboro on drunken nights to remind of a life that once was so very very innocent and the Windsor Blue lights to help me get through the day. It really is a cautious process, one that I participate willingly and enjoy thoroughly. But please, don’t smoke, it’s bad for you. (But so is everything, if you take too much of it.)
So that’s probably my first trigger. Back then I didn’t have any worries, I didn’t worry about getting older. That year in 1987, my dad died. I didn’t care, he was an arse anyway. Smoking was the only thing he taught me; he was never around to teach me anything else. That probably doesn’t sound nice because he was my dad but believe me this world is better without him. Shame he had to ruin my life before he left. This is getting dark now. I’m taking a break.
Where was I? Right, I was 10. I’m going to move to 1990, a nice round number. At the beginning of the year, Rowan Atkinson made his TV debut as Mr. Bean and at the end of the year the British and French Channel Tunnel workers met 40 metres beneath the English Channel seabed. Exciting isn’t it? That is if you had enough money to travel on the train. I was 13 years old and that year I had my first taste of alcohol. I assume smoking put me onto a rebellious track because it was downhill from then on. I think it was a cheap alcopop. They first became popular in the US in the 80s I believe but didn’t really grow in the UK till 1993. So before that if I remember correctly I had a Bacardi Breezer. 13 is a very young age to start drinking but I didn’t actually "start" — I simply had a bottle of breezer and left it at that really.
I’m going to fast-forward to 1997. I am now 20 years old... you know screw it, I’m tired.
Anyway where was I? Oh yes, 20 years old. At the start of the year, Bill Clinton began his second term as President of the United States — not really anything to do with me. At the end of year, James Cameron’s Titanic premieres in the US, also not really relevant to the UK but still it’s a decent film. Oh my god, did I hear you ask what happened in the middle of the year? Oh right, in that case I better answer you, it would be rude of me otherwise. And yes I know, everything that’s happening here happens neither at the beginning or the end of a year, what can I say? I give the middle a reputation.
This particularly section relates to the smoking section. However a different kind. Yes, drugs, I can hear you silently judging already. Not hardcore drugs, the easy stuff first. Weed. Harmless really, effective though nonetheless. Apparently, I don’t know for sure, I don’t google this shit but smoking tobacco is more damaging then smoking marijuana. I don’t know what to think about that. I’ll let you make your own opinions, I don’t want to force them upon you anyway; that would be intrusive and rude. You can happily make your own opinions and I shall let you do that. MooOOOvvvVing on. Like the smoking, I didn’t really do it on purpose. I felt shitty and depressed, I had no plans to try it and no deep desire to experiment with it. I was shown to it and I took it. A moment of curiosity on my part. Entirely my fault and totally wrong but fuck blame and rights and wrongs cos’ after all it comes down to you and I’ll happily take it all on the chin, I’ve made the mistake and I will choose whether I wish to learn from it. And to be honest, weed became the least of my problems.
The word "drug" is a tricky one, it can either be a good thing or a bad thing. Good thing for saving lives and medicine and what not. Bad thing for destroying your internal organs. But hey! It’s like a circle of life, you get sick from using drugs then get even more drugs to help you. Funny that.
So my age has increased within a few pages. Mike said that I should write about the triggers and I have. Smoking, drugs, and alcohol made me the way I am now. I guess I feel better, maybe I have to read it back. As I got older, I tried more and more things that weren’t especially healthy to my insides but even knowing that, I did them anyway. I told Mike that my upbringing wasn’t the best, a rented caravan, an invisible mum and a shit dad made me do things. He said that the early years of my life can’t take all the blame. I had choices to make and I took the wrong ones, that’s why I went to rehab and that’s why I was in therapy… and that’s why I went to rehab and now I’m back in therapy.
Throughout the years, many people told me I was insane. More and more as I got older, they said it so much that I started to believe it and then it just got worse for me. I am relatively young but age hasn’t treated me well. It’s burdened me so much that I’m scared to get even older, I’m frightened on how it will go for me. It got worse for me because when I believed I was insane, I also believed that there wasn’t any cure to insanity so as I got older, I was convinced it would only get worse and it did so I was right. Insane people aren’t usually right? Are they? That’s basically what all my therapy is about, rehab sorted out the addictions (ish) and therapy is meant to convince me I am not insane. I am babbling in incoherent sentences, I apologise. Mike told me one thing and that was not to babble incoherently and look what I’ve gone and done.
I am also sorry for the lack of structure to my writing, I haven’t thought one bit about what I will write just it’s something to do with age other than that I just type what comes to me. I probably should have explained this at the beginning so if you haven’t already lowered your expectations, please do it now.
When Mike asked me what was bothering me, I immediately thought of age and growing up because it’s been bothering me for a while. Ever since someone first uttered the words "you crazy motherfucker" at around midnight once, on a park bench somewhere. And this was the first person who actually meant it literally, not just a joke. I don’t remember much nowadays but I remember that, not only because it’s had a major impact on my life and forced me to turn down an even darker path but because I was on drugs then and I remembered a lot more when I was using. If I was on drugs now (which I’m not by the way Mike, if you’re reading this), I probably could tell you more than the time and the place, I might be able to tell you the exact time and the exact place and how many people were in the park and what the bloke’s name was or the temperature or what I could smell but unfortunately all I can do is guess. I assume it was dark and it was cold (I live in England) and no-one was about. Sorry.
I do remember something else though and I only recall it because it’s come to light again as of late. This isn’t a specific moment but more of a reoccurring event that I witnessed a few times throughout my fucked up existence. When I was using and drinking a little too much, maybe a lot too much, I used to just walk down the street. That’s all I really used to do, it’s odd I know, but when I was high or whatever it was comforting and bizarrely I felt superior. I’ll explain.
When I was walking down a street passing people by, I felt superior because I knew something they didn’t. I was high or drunk or both and they did not know. They didn’t suspect anything because they didn’t care. Me having contained a certain type of knowledge (albeit one that nobody could have never known) that was unknown to anyone else made me feel better than them. That makes me seem obnoxious but I was not in a right mind. I am no longer obnoxious, right Mike? So this feeling of having a greater presence amongst my peers gave me another reason to delve deeper into the dark winding path that is my life. Walking down the street was comforting because it gave me a sense of separation, which relates back to being better however it also gave me a sense of belonging. Despite being separate from these strangers, fundamentally we had shared a common ground. Quite literally actually, the street we were on, we both were sharing. Bear with me here. The air we were breathing, someone else had breathed before so to wrap this up, I guess what made me feel comfortable was the thought of being a singular but not a single singular. If that was incoherent, I don’t care, I’m quite proud of it. I suppose that can apply to anybody really, we are all individual in some way or another yet we are all connected. I don’t even know what incoherent means.
Let me take this back to the start of this section, a reoccurring event that I witnessed, yes. Sorry. Again. The event that kept on happening as I walked down the street was caused by an elderly women. I can’t remember her name, maybe I never knew it but this lady is one of the faces that age and harmful toxins have not erased from my mind. Every time I saw her and I saw her a lot, she would walk slowly and stop a few times and then carry on walking just as slowly as before. Now I don’t know whether this was a result of old age, I like to think it wasn’t. It bothered me for years though, I just couldn’t understand why she kept on stopping or why she walked very slowly. I didn’t want to ask because I was high and crazy but it’s something I didn’t stop thinking about.
The reason I wrote about that part of my life was because recently I found out why. I was walking down the street, for nostalgic reasons not because I was high, and the lady was there. Surprisingly she was not dead. She did the thing again and this time I decided to ask her because I am less crazy now. She simply said that she was enjoying the view and that was it, that’s all she had to say about it. She carried on like I hadn’t said anything at all. It took me a while to understand, enjoying the view? What view? Bungalows? Did she have a thing for stair-less buildings? Then I thought about it and applied it to life and took a step back as if to see the answer clearer. Then it hit me. She was a very old lady, she was enjoying the view because it could be her last view. And why would you want your last view to be something you hated? I assume she stopped a lot on the way back to her home as a precaution. Maybe that’s something I’ll do. Appreciate views a bit more without over thinking or getting distracted, actually focusing on something and enjoying it. I suppose to close all this up I’ll leave you with a thought. Getting older means you walk slower.