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Saturday, September 28, 2013

One Is the Most Frustrating Number

I'm going to rant and rave, whine, and generally just toss a lot of stuff onto the digital page here.

I'm bummed and it's only when I'm not at work. When I'm at work, I feel like I have a purpose. A life. A cause. Sure, it's working retail in a bargain outlet store that is, as you can imagine, not exactly in the best of conditions. It's full of stuff, of various qualities, and it's organized maddeningly. It's never as clean as I want it to be and I can never get it that way.

But while I'm there, I'm doing something useful. Helping people, even in a small way (like getting something from a high shelf or lugging a very heavy carpet up front). Sure, it's not much. I have no impact on a larger scale, in terms of life, and that's a fact I've come to accept.

I will not accept it on a permanent basis. I expect in two to three years to be back in college and finishing up.

But that doesn't mean anything now and it's not the source of my bummed feeling. The source of my bummness (new word) is the fact that I'm going to be 25 in two weeks. Two. Weeks.

There are things that I'm immensely appreciative (I won't say proud) of as I approach this age. I'm in the best shape of my life. I look like I'm still in high school (okay, I don't really appreciate that much at all, but I'm getting used to it). I have a ton of friends, close ones, and I have a few loving families. I'm damned lucky.

But my mind drifts back, way back, to my AIM days when I first started chatting with one of my closest friends. Actually, the very first day we chatted on AIM. She said then that, at 25, the human body starts to degenerate (science, kids. Stay in school, please, it's easier in the long run).

I've been stuck on that since last night, when I remembered it. Didn't sleep at all. Woke up this morning slow and stuck in a rut. Truthfully, I've been bummed for about a week now and I'm bummed because, if I prove science right, I will have wasted so much of peak.

I am on course of doing that no matter what, really, but the realization that it's all just ... gone ... is sobering in the worst way. It's gone, and I don't care that my physical peak seems to have been wasted, at least not directly.

I care that my peak has been wasted with no one. No one in any romantic sense at all.

I haven't had a date since I was 19. Long, long time ago. Ages. Before Obama was president.

I'm single and have been for over five years.

I am quite lonely. This has to be obvious even to the most oblivious of observers at this point. I'm a broken record with this, I know, but this past week has been particularly rough for me being so single.

It seems everywhere I look there are couples. The songs I hear are all romantic. The holidays are coming up and I'm likely going to be alone. I have no doubt that I'll be invited to things but whether I accept that invitation is another matter entirely. Honestly, I feel like it's out of pity and it probably is, and I hate that. But I hate being alone on holidays. But I deserve to be alone on them at this point based on my past actions (read: screw ups).

You can see the circle I've been running in. It's exhausting. I'm trying to figure out how to remedy the singleness and I can do it ... in my head. I can make the scenarios work. I can plot it out. But life isn't a story and it doesn't follow a plot (but one can easily make the case a story really doesn't either if you do it right).

What I imagine myself to do and what I'm capable of doing are two very different things. I freeze. I continually freeze and the gears grind and I don't do anything. I do nothing and I hate myself for doing nothing when I should be able to do SOMETHING.

But I don't. I can't. I try. I was in a really awesome outdoor mall type place Friday. Lots of people, plenty of pretty girls, opportunity aplenty to try something. To put myself out there.

And I ended up pacing for the better part of an hour as I couldn't decide what to do or how to approach or even what to eat. I opted just to leave and find a cooler (which I did, an awesome one for 20 bucks).

I'm this close to making an irrational, stupid, decision. I don't know what it'll be, but my history indicates it'll be epically disastrous and likely end with something important to me going up in flames.

I don't make good decisions most of the time when I'm like this. The one, notable, exception is when I decided to go Primal and lose weight. I was desperate beyond desperate and that was a last-ditch, shot in the dark, heave into the ether, thing.

I don't know what to do here. I have, despite my pride, investigated online dating since I am so astoundingly poor in real-life approaches towards girls. Which I don't understand because I check out (in line, people, in line) pretty girls at my work all the time. I get them at my register. I like that aspect of the job, but I'm fine there.

You make me take off my uniform, put on some regular clothes, and place us in a coffee shop? I freeze. I've done significant amounts of Starbucks time in recent weeks. I've been observing, taking notes, looking for some key to make this thing function even slightly better.

I've adjusted my clothing choices (plain, tightish fitting shits are in, geeky tees are out for public use). That is only a small factor but that's all I've been able to gleam. The results of observations in malls, in stores ... the same.

I got nothing. So, online looks to be where it's at, but there are these fees for membership. They want me to pay in the hope I find someone? The free memberships are sketchy, honestly, and I don't know what to do there.

I feel like a failure outside of work. At work, I give myself a solid B, B+. I'm still learning some things but I'm a highly-reliable guy and I'm getting the hours to prove it.

But in life, my grade is like a D. I want to call it a straight up F but I'm alive and I do decently for myself. But I can't give myself more than a D.

I want to ask, "What am I doing wrong?" but the answer is quite simple: nothing. I'm doing nothing and thus I get nothing. Risk is part of the game if you want to play in the realm of romance (to paraphrase Captain Kirk). I'm like the Reginald Barclay of 20 somethings. Better in my fiction than I am in my reality.

I can write romance, blast it. I can do it. I can do it pretty decently and the lessons are there ... and I can't do anything with them. That's there. This is here. It doesn't mesh, one of the few things in my fiction that doesn't mesh with my reality.

Everywhere I look, it's just a reminder of my really long failure at this. Five years plus. I was going to go into Cheesecake Factory Friday evening and eat there. But then I realized I was alone.


And Cheesecake Factory is not for that. None of the restaurants there were for that. Everyone that went in was either part of a family or had their significant other with them. Friday evening was like that everywhere and it's been a long time since I felt this type of loneliness.

It's not the usual type. I'm here, in Ohio. I have only one friend my age (a guy at work who's 19 and thought I was 16 before I told him I most certainly wasn't) and everyone else I have are friends.  My families are hours away. Hundreds of miles.

I'm inundated with friends and I'm lucky for that but friends aren't enough. It's petty, shallow, vain, and poor form ... but it's true. If friends were enough than no one would get into romantic relationships.

I need that type of relationship.

I feel so far behind. I feel like I did when I had to run laps in gym class during that time of year when they had to time us: last place. Dead last. No matter how hard I tried or how hard I pushed myself, I was huffing, puffing, and out of breath. Everyone was ahead of me, a figure in the distance, and there I was barely walking at a decent clip.

I'm in last place, socially. I am so stunted at nearly 25, it's remarkable. My youngest siblings have more experience than I do at this point. To put that in perspective, they're roughly nine and eleven years younger than I am.

Shall we peruse my Facebook friends list and see how many of my friends, around the same age or younger, are married/in long-term relationships? I'm struggling to name more than a single-digit number of friends I have on Facebook that are single like myself.

The train has left the station and I'm not even on the platform. I'm stuck on the malfunctioning escalator. It's going down, I'm trying to go up, and I'm running in place.

What is wrong with me?

I took a day to hash that out, on paper, and came up with miswiring. Something in the brain is FUBAR. I hate admitting that, but I spent the better part of two months over the spring/summer trying to find a psychiatrist and was turned down. Repeatedly. Or told that there might be a shot at getting in months down the road.

I'm in Ohio now, maybe I should try again. Or maybe I should just accept the reality that I am destined to be alone.

I refuse to accept that. No. Not possible. Not remotely fair and yeah, I hear the "But Zach, life's not fair" counter and I flatly refuse it. Life may not be fair but damn it, I will not accept a denial like this.

I can't keep doing this. I've at this for over FIVE years. I can't do this for five more. I can't do this for one more, really, it's depressing on a shocking scale. I can't keep sinking myself into work or into writing or games or food. I can't live life like that because those things only make up parts of living. They can't replace living as a whole and living as a whole fundamentally requires human companionship.

I desire a romantic kind. It's not a difficult request, not for other people.

But I would rather walk down a busy highway (and have on multiple occasions) than talk with a girl, because I freeze and I die.

I'm weird. I'm unique. I'm the only one like me.

People say this to me. Close friends, people I trust implicitly, people I would gladly take a bullet for, and I want to toss myself into a spike filled pit Mortal Kombat-style when I hear this. I don't take it as a compliment.

It's used as an excuse for the way I fail. A crutch. Something to fall back on.

If only others could hate me as much as I hate me, but they don't. Others are, thankfully, not lost in my head. They're there to give me perspective and bring me back when I start careening off into the familiar darkness. For that, I am eternally grateful.

But I'm so tired of feeling like a complete failure in life. I would gladly work every day for most hours of the day. Lug carpet. Clean up bathrooms. Get old coffee all over my hands (that happened today while lugging carpets). Whatever. I'm accomplishing something there.

I set foot outside it and watch the failures pile up.

I'm clearly broken. I am. I have to be.

Why? I could take a few good guesses. I have no doubt it's mostly, if not all, my fault.

I'm single and I'm tired of it. Beyond frustrated by it. Lost amidst the options, convinced they're all likely to fail, desperate for some hope, and scared this is what I have to look forward to for years on end.

How does it work? What am I missing?

What should I do?

I don't know. I'm going to go to bed now, wrap myself in my Florida Gator blanket, and feel like complete crap. Because that's it. In two weeks, I turn 25, and I am no closer to being less alone that I was at 19. I'm in way better shape and my fashion sense has improved considerably. My odds have increased marginally because of those things.

But the distance remains the same, if not more, because I'm in dead last. I'm huffing, puffing, and I'm weary. I passed out one year while running those laps. It was hot that day and I was an overweight teenager, and I just went down for the count.

I want to pass out here but I'm already so far behind, I'll never see another soul if stop. The figures in the distance will leave me behind and they can't stop. Life goes on for them, for those they love, and for the shared wonders they experience.

I'm going to end up being a part of the past, nothing more than a footnote at best, forgotten about.

I honestly can't say that's a bad thing at this point.

So ends this. I was hoping it'd make me feel better.

It didn't. Thanks for reading, folks. If I didn't have work in the morning, I'd totally bury myself in ice cream and go into a food coma. But then I'd be so ill in the morning and I'm just not gonna make tomorrow worse than it's likely to be.

I'm ending today.


  1. There are about a million things I could say here. Analysis, honesty (brutal in ways, kind in others), reassurance, suggestions, offers to help you find a shrink. But then I wonder if I'll be crossing the line if I do. Which is a part of the problem you face, I think, as well. Because here you are, vulnerable and hurting, but you'd never know to look at you, Zach. You'd never be able to see it past the straight face you wear around, as though you drank the 'be a man' Koolaid you've probably been handed. You're just fine at conveying vulnerability in text, conveying emotion in text, but in real life it's a whole other ball of wax.

    I wish I could say more. I wish that it would be listened to if I did. I wish a lot of things. I hope -- as I always have and always will -- that you'll be okay.


  2. *sigh*

    I met Mr. jespah through the personals. Srsly. It just got us to focus. I know it's not for everyone, but it can work. Hang in there.