“The point is to destroy.”
Sometimes when I attempt to write, that sentence comes out before I delete the draft. Nothing else. By now, it seems like an involuntary reflex. The routine usually goes: I write it out unconsciously, stare at it for three seconds, then close the browser window.
I stopped by my parents’ house the other day to look through some boxes I had left there before moving out. Left with two grocery bags, filled to the top with detritus. Release forms from old video projects, dumb writing from high school, seventeen sequentially labelled CD-Rs which turned out to be a backup of my high school PC. There’s also two items I had forgotten about: a manila envelope filled with X-rays marked “DO NOT FOLD”, and a shirt covered in blood within a Ziploc bag.
Sixty-one months ago, I woke up in Bar Harbor, went outside, and began biking to school with my hands off the handlebars. I was holding my notebook for class and felt that I was losing my grip, so I shifted it to the other hand while pedaling. I misjudged my center of gravity and fell to the right. And slid thirty feet on the cracked asphalt. I had my eyes open as the skin on my right arm and right side of my face was shredded. My body slid within a few feet of a parked car’s bumper before it stopped. After getting up, my hand was clearly not OK and I was driven to the hospital by a kind elderly resident. I greeted the hospital receptionist with my arms cradling each other and held upwards, to try to keep them dripping blood on my shirt rather than the floor.
“Uh, hi. I need some assistance.”
After the wounds were dressed, the fracture was diagnosed (scaphoid/radius bones, right hand) and the cast was set, I was released wearing my original clothes. Including the shirt covered in blood, which I apparently never washed. Because I thought the looks I got when wearing it around (even after the arm had healed) were hilarious.
Now, in order for me to have that opinion for as long as I did, I needed to posess three traits:
- A fundamental disconnect from other humans, such that sincere concern for my well-being could not be interpreted at face value, and instead could only be an opportunity for gentle mockery.
- Sufficiently low self-esteem to deny that wearing a shirt covered in blood for no specific occasion would actually be a downgrade from my everyday slovenly appearance.
- Boundless desire for attention, or at least enough to feel no real qualms about receiving regular reminders of the most pain I’ve ever felt, in order to attract the laughter of others.
Unfortunately I had all of these in abundance! And in the intervening years I’ve worked a great deal to move past them. But man, was it startling to see that Ziploc bag. Apparently I had moved it to storage years ago, under the assumption that no matter how my life progresses, I would probably need to wear it again.