About an odd dream, which was less important than what came after it:
Last night, I had a dream. Surely I have dreams every night, but it’s very rare that I remember having them, and even more rare that I remember their content. Sometimes I wake up to a vague feeling, a kind of fuzziness at the edges of my mind, something insisting that neurons were firing, that images were experienced. Last night, I was two people at once. I can’t really explain the mechanics of it, dream logic being what it is. Stranger still is that one of me sought only to ceaselessly torment the other in any way possible. The other, for his part, thought little of the tormentor, instead simply trying to carry on with business as usual. Neither was satisfied. I have no particular dislike for myself, but I spent 8 hours last night watching Me try to destroy Me in my head.
I woke up frequently, and each time I drifted back into sleep, I lapsed back into this same dream. At least, I think that’s what happened. I believe that’s what happened because I don’t know anything better to believe.
Lately, this is how things work. I have never been the sanest person you know, if you want to know the truth. Nor am I the least sane. But in recent days, things have become more chaotic. I can’t trust what I see or hear. I lose time in small pieces. It’s almost nostalgic. It will go away, though, because it always does.
So forgive me when I don’t connect my thoughts well from here in. I will admit to not thinking straight.
Mountains from molehills, etc.
I do not thrive on melodrama the way some people do.
You know who you are.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s much to be said for enduring sensitivity to the problems of others, and even something noble in making the problems of others your own. This is why soap operas work, of course — because a lot of us love drama. Let’s be honest with ourselves, here. A lot of us crave sympathy.
I used to be a very sympathetic person. Over the last year or so, I feel that a lot of that has been chipped away and replaced with a bit of unflinching cynicism. There’s apathy there, too. I’m not proud of this, and I have attempted to fight it tooth and nail. But, what can I say? It is what it is. My patience for people turning mundane problems into some epic struggle for their own personal well-being has waned. I no longer have time for manufactured drama. Each of us has to handle our own forgiveness. Each of us has to save ourselves.
On the sudden disappearance of students:
I teach English as a Second Language in a high school, and I visit a junior high school once a week. I lose a few students each term. I usually do not have the luxury of knowing why they’re gone, which initially made me more curious. They simply stop coming to school, and if I ask why, I usually get “it’s complicated” or “I don’t really know how to explain.” One thing that’s certain, however, is that if administrators won’t fill me in on details, students always will, and if I’m armed with a little foreknowledge I can coax the full stories out of the teachers. Here are a few examples:
- Male, 17 years old. His father was a respected doctor whose hospital went bankrupt due to the local economy taking a drastic turn for the worst, and rather than live with the consequences (and the loss of face), he took his family and skipped town. Said student returned a few months later, having left his family to return to school. He is currently living with the family of a friend, and will graduate in May.
- Female, 15 years old. Her house burned down. This one wasn’t so much of a secret, of course, since it made the news. She stopped coming to school for the better part of a year, but managed to pass her exams and move on to the next grade. She is currently a junior.
- Female, 12 years old. She says she has back problems. These back problems keep her from climbing the stairs to her classroom (on the third floor), so she does not attend class. She cannot legally miss school for this, so she stays in the nurse’s office. She is the only overweight girl in her school, and I do not know if all of this is connected, but I see no evidence of her having significant friendships of any kind.
- Male, 12 years old. He does not usually speak. I have been offered no explanation as to why he does not speak. Because he doesn’t speak, he too spends his days in the nurse’s office, sitting in a chair beside the door.
That accounts for four. What of the others?
Sickness, the lot of them. And this isn’t a sickness that has a name, apparently. It also has no consistent symptoms or method of treatment. As best I can tell, it is something akin to Victorian Novel Disease. I am usually told that a student “has a weak constitution” or “their body isn’t strong.” I am not a doctor, but as far as I can tell, nothing is physically wrong with the majority of these students. They tell me this themselves. Consistently, they are social outsiders. In virtually all cases, their presence is not missed as much as it should be. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes they drop out.
The point of this is to talk about Saki.
Saki is one who hasn’t been to school in months. As usual, no real explanation was given as to her absence. Piece by piece, strange tips were dropped. First: “She has to live at the hospital from now on.” Live at the hospital? Later: “She thinks too much. About everything.”
Saki should have turned 14 by now, but I’m not sure when her birthday is. When I met her, she was 12, and she asked me to sign her notebook. Lots of the younger students do this. Before too long, she was a frequent visitor to the office during lunch or recess, discussing such topics as Harry Potter, learning to cook, and boy bands. Her English advanced more quickly than that of her peers, mostly as a result of losing her shyness about trying to speak it so quickly. Despite this, she can’t ever seem to say my name correctly.
Yet, even so, we all knew there was more to this little girl than met the eye. The two other American teachers at the school voiced uncertain concerns as well. She was as cheerful as anyone can be, but there was still something unmistakably dark in her eyes. Something told each of us that she knew more about the world than any kid should have to. We hoped it was something aesthetic. “She just looks like that,” I remember telling myself. I can’t read Japanese faces as well as Western ones.
As it turns out, Saki cut her wrists. She’s alive, but it was serious. She meant it. At age 13, she decided she’d had enough. The diagnosis? “Too much thinking”. What could have been so bad? I’ve got my theories. No doubt you’ve got guesses as well. Barely a teenager, and she put blade to vein and quietly slipped away from the rest of us. I don’t know what to do with it. I am no stranger to tragedy. Suicide (or attempted suicide) is not new. Yet, this one hit me right in the heart.
I’m tired of people telling me how hellish their lives are because they’re having trouble with car payments or a potential love interest isn’t interested. I’m tired of people dropping casual hints as to ending it all as a way to coax affection out of those around them. I’m tired, and I’m fed up with a lot of fucking things, but more than all of that I just want Saki to walk through the door and mispronounce my name again.