An empty stage

These days, friends are in short supply. People my age don’t suddenly start making good friends. Your best friends come from your youth, from days before all the bullshit, the people who knew you beforeyou turned into who you are today. It’s a shame how my friends keep dropping away, one by one. It’s disheartening when a childhood friend turns out to be a manipulative prick who fucked around with you for his entertainment. It’s sad when another childhood friend disappears because of a little tiff over him forgetting his baseball cap at a restaurant. You get lonely when one of the newest friends you made ends up getting married and moves away to a different state. And you feel lost when one of your few remaining friends gets married and moves out of the neighborhood. I mean, come on, let’s face it: people grow out of their old lives when they get married. Their own friends fall by the wayside while they grow into their new relationship. Them’s the breaks.

I was on Yelp looking for a good video arcade. The great city of New York apparently has none though, not really. There was a mention of one in an AMC theater in the Upper West Side. I looked at the photos of the theater and memories crawled back into my consciousness as I recognized the venue. I remember the day Luanne had brought her brothers (my best friend) along with her boyfriend to the theater. I was invited and went along. We watched Saw III there. Or was it Saw IV? I can’t remember, but it was the one with the needles. I don’t remember what else we might’ve done, but it was fun…it was a fun day. It was a chilly autumn day, complete with nippy air that was colored with gray and tinged with a sickly green, befitting for the day’s activity. It was probably around Halloween time, probably some October day. I just remember that it felt good to go out and catch a movie with a friend.I sit here in a yellow cafeteria chair, hunched over my laptop that sits atop this table whose top is the color of orange red clay you imagine an adobe hut is made of. It was only six or so months ago that I still had a friend I could call a close one, one of my best friends. Only six months ago I was sitting in this sameseat,with him next to me. We talked a lot of trash, we hated the world together…it was nice to have a partner in crime. Six months ago, I may not have had romance in my life, but at least I had my friends. Today, I sit here alone.I don’t think most people know what it is to be alone, to be truly alone and lonely. I’m not going to sit here and cry emo, saying that nobody understands me and all that. It may be the truth, but that’s not really the point. To know what it’s really like to be alone, you’ve got to have had it good before. And then you’ve got to have lost it all.

I look at my life now and I’m at a loss. I have this vision…I’m standing on a stage, but the auditorium is pitch black. A clunky mechanical lever ka-chunks into place, turning the spotlight on. It is front and center and shines right into my eyes from the audience area. There’s a darkness around the spotlight. I look around me, my hands at my side, palms facing up, as if offering myself to divinity. I’m standing on this stage, looking out into an empty audience. I look around and there’s nothing but an empty auditorium, silent, save for the buzz of the spotlight. There’s not a soul around, not in the audience, not on the stage. Looking left, looking right, my brow furrows and I say to myself quizzically, “…what the fuck?”

My life’s been reduced to fleeting moments of emotional connection… That pretty girl who looks at me as the two of us move in opposite directions, the painful feeling of intrigue and the torture of what-if. A glimpse of kinship with someone you strike up a random conversation with. In a city with millions of people, yet completely alone. What cruel fate has been devised for me?

I’m growing too old too quickly…I’m in my early twenties, a young man by all accounts. It’s far too soon to start feeling that the good old days have already passed me by. If the best times of my life have been put behind me, I don’t know what there is to look forward to. My friends are gone, I have realized that the world will never be what it should, and I stand here on this empty stage, alone and confused. What will happen to me twenty years from now, thirty years?

  • UpStagers

    Well, wow! As I began to read this, I was sure it was the writing and reminiscence of a man in his fifties; forties to be sure. But no… My dear young(er) man, you have so much to learn. You have so many changes to manipulate through. Embrace them! Embrace the pain because it means growth. Trust me- I have been there, and I am there now. And I'm a few years ahead of you.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Upstagers. I'm well aware that there is much ahead of me…but hey, sometimes things just get to you. Uncertainty weighs far more on my mind than my circumstances in itself.