It’s a crushing weight, being needed.
At least that’s what I’ve come to believe after all this time. Thirty five years to be exact. Although I suspect the first three or four years don’t really count do they? I mean during that time you pretty much just eat, sleep, and cause lots of problems to those closest to you. Then again, I don’t suppose those first three or four years are all that different from the rest. Not in my experience anyway.
How did I arrive at this conclusion? Well, I mostly observed it. I think. Or perhaps I deserved it. I don’t really know. It all depends on who you ask and what version of reality they choose to share, or believe, or force on you. But who cares? Well, I guess you do now that I’ve promised to tell you.
Let me start again.
My name is Felix. Not really, but I think that’s a pretty cool name and I like to pretend it’s mine. Truthfully, my name is, uh, well you see, I don’t really know my real name. I’ve had many – Oliver, Hardy, Cornelius (that was one of the worst), Alexander, Arthur, William, Howard, Henry, Jacob, Jackson, etc. You get the picture, right? I’ve changed names about as often as I’ve changed my underpants. So, can we just agree to stick with Felix and pretend it’s the truth?
Now, where was I? Oh, right, how did I arrive at the conclusion that it’s a crushing weight to be needed?
– – –
It all started in a storm drain in London. The year was 1922 and a storm drain is where my parents left me as an infant. Too cold to cry, to alone to realize it. I was hardly aware of my own existence at the time, but I suspect that I was hungry, cold, and feeling utterly abandoned. If an infant is indeed capable of such feelings. I can’t say for certain. But the fact is I must have been scared.
That’s not true, I lied. Did 1922 London even have storm drains? I’m a compulsive liar, to be completely honest. But the story I’m attempting to tell you is true. At least I hope I can tell the truth from here to the end, but only time will tell.
It’s a difficult thing for a liar to tell the truth, you know? Well, not so much to tell the truth but to admit when he is telling the truth. Is there even a difference between lying about telling the truth and just plain lying? Both are perverted versions of the truth, but then again what isn’t? Furthermore, can a liar even discern truth and lies? And are we all not liars?
Everything we see is a lie. Is the sky really blue? No, it’s just your eyes interpretation of the light passing through your, blah blah blah. Is it cold outside? No, it just feels cold to your dreadfully demanding body that insists on keeping everything inside at a constant 98.6 degrees, or somewhere there about. Not to mention, right now it’s early August and in the low 80s. So, then there’s that. But you get my point, right? All of life is not so much what it is as it is what you perceive it to be. Or something to that effect, so they say. Who are they? I can’t be certain.
But I am certain I must sound like a cynical, jaded old man at this point. Ten points to Felix for telling the truth for once. But I’m really not that cynical. Minus 15 points for lying again.
– – –
I must warn you, it’s exhausting inside my head. There is a consistent lack of consistency here. Some might call it ADD, or ADHD, or HIJKLMNOP-DD. I definitely made up the last one, bu the first two? Well, that’s for you to decide. Regardless, my fair warning to you is that it can get quite dangerous inside my head. You never know what random rabbit hole I might jump down.
So, there, you’ve been warned. Now I don’t have to lie to my therapist. That is, if I had one. His name would be Jim. Jim Schrödinger, or maybe it’s Erwin, er, I mean would be Erwin if I had one. The point is my mind is a terrible and exciting place. Full of mystery and wonderment, tales of woe and sadness, joy and jubilee, but mixed with perilous selfishness, a constant need for new stimulation, and the frequent and sudden urges for coffee, or chocolate. Maybe even chocolate AND coffee? No, let’s be honest, that’s actually quite terrible. Unless it’s white chocolate and coffee, then it’s sheer delight. Better yet, caramel and coffee. Now that’s a match made in heaven if you believe in that sort of thing. Me? I’m not so sure.
– – –
So, back to the storm drain in 1922 London that wasn’t actually a storm drain in 1922 London, but rather a mansion in Brookhaven in the early 1980s. Brookhaven – an elite neighborhood (I use that term loosely) in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. There’s only about seven homes in the community that spans roughly 963 acres. Yes, that means each family has about 130+ acres of rolling hills, babbling brooks, lush gardens, and everything else that’s required for a place to be called an oasis. Well, six of the families had this anyway. The seventh and founding family of Brookhaven, the Brukdaal family- pronounced Brookhaven, yea, I’m not sure how that works either, I think they’re French or Dutch or something-own about 163 acres. This accounts for their ridiculously large ‘garage’ where Mr. Brukdaal spends most of his time with his 37 cars. He’s a hoarder, or Collector as he would prefer you perceive.
That’s where I grew up. I wasn’t orphaned in a storm drain in 1922 London. I’m not even British. I’m American, Irish-American to be exact. And I do know my real name, but I’m not going to it to you. At least not yet, maybe not ever. So, for now I’ll remain Felix. Felix, the privileged son of a wealthy Irish- American family in the ghastly suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. From the elite community called Brookhaven. With enviable wavy, dark hair and a muscular build. Ha, not really. With sandy colored, not wavy hair and a small frame on the verge of being slightly muscular but never quite getting there.
It’s hard to build muscle when your life doesn’t require it. Why lift weights when you have servants to do it for you? And why run when you have 37 cars to choose from? Well, that’s how many Mr. Brukdaal had to choose from. But me, I only had five – the Ferrari, the Land Rover, the BMW, the Benz, or my personal favorite the… Wait! Why am I telling you about our cars? I don’t know, it’s hardly relevant.
So, that’s me. Or was me. Not so much anymore. I’m no longer the privileged son of a wealthy Irish-American family. I am the orphaned child in 1922 London, or better yet I’m the 35 year old drunk on Vine Street begging for spare change. You’ll recognize me by my dirty, sandy colored hair and my far from muscular build. I’m anyone but that jerk from Brookhaven. At least that’s what I choose to believe, for we all must believe something.
– – –
Fifteen years was all I could take of that sorry excuse for a community – Brookhaven. Seven families who barely knew each other’s names. Well, I barely knew all their names. Everyone seemed to know my name, De… HA! You almost caught me there. Rewind: Everyone seemed to know my name, Felix. I don’t know how, but they seemed to know a lot about me. Or at least they thought they did. But no one really knew that much about me except Elayna. She was the only redeeming part of Brookhaven. To most she was quite hideous, but to me she was an angel, a ray of sunlight. It’s true she wasn’t easy on the eyes and had a
doleful personality, but at the time I barely knew it. And if I had it wouldn’t have mattered. Even when I started to notice things like that it still didn’t matter.
– – –
The first time I ever saw her I was about seven, she nineteen. She lived in the second to last home in Brookhaven. The last being the Brukdaal’s. And we lived in the one just before Elayna’s.
Elayna Borgenminky. She was home from college for the summer and found herself wandering through the lush gardens of her family’s property. They were more spectacular than my family’s gardens. No, not in the physical sense, but in the sense that they had nothing to do with my family. The beauty of our gardens was overshadowed by the fact that they were ours. Everyone knows that once you acquire something it’s no longer magnificent, but rather mundane and not as great as the next grand object of desire.
Nevertheless, I found myself exploring the Borgenminky’s gardens quite often. They didn’t seem to mind. Mostly because I never got caught and never left a trace of evidence I had been there. Until that day. I was struck by something. Cupids arrow perhaps? No, it couldn’t have been that. Probably the thorns of the rose bush I stumbled over when I saw her.
I had no physical attraction to Elayna. I was seven for crying out loud. I barely understood the concept of physical attraction at the time. With her it was something else. The way she winked at me and motioned with her spindly finger that she would keep quiet about seeing me there in her parents’ garden. It would be, “our little secret”, she assured me. “Don’t worry about the rose bush you stumbled over, I’ll tell everyone I did it.” She said all these things without saying a word. I knew I could trust her. I felt safe, secure.
We had just met, but we were the best of friends. Lifelong friends. The kind of friends that can go years without seeing or speaking to one another yet are still so intimately connected. Who know everything and nothing about each other. The details of their lives – their comings and goings, their favorite foods – these are things of which they know little to nothing. But their souls – the longings behind their eyes, their hurts and sadness, their fears and worries, the glimmers of hope you see in their smiles, the joys you spot in the tears that hold on for dear life and vow never to fall – these are the things that prove you know everything about each other. It’s the unspoken, but understood.
It’s in this first encounter that we both realized we were eternally connected.
– – –
For the next eight years I suffered through life in Brookhaven. A life of privilege – the finest foods, coffees, teas, desserts, all the luxuries that money could afford. It was a death sentence.
I rarely saw Elayna. She would come home to visit for a few days then leave again. Back to college to graduate, then studying abroad for another degree, and then another. She must have completed three or four degrees in all her travels. But I didn’t really care about that. I just cared about the few days I got to see her each year until the time I was fifteen. We didn’t have much to say and we certainly couldn’t spend much time together lest our families learn of our wildly inappropriate relationship. Heaven forbid that we act neighborly to one another. God knows nobody in Brookhaven ever did. Let alone the fact that she was twelve years my senior and that would not be in the least bit acceptable to those who had no understanding of what it’s like to truly know someone.
So, we met in secret. It was never planned. Not once did either of us have to suggest a meeting time or place. Our souls just drew us to the right place at the right time. Or so it seemed to my romanticized imagination, and I suspect to hers as well. Though I never really knew for sure. We didn’t speak of these things, only of the things that our eyes chose to reveal to one another.
– – –
The last time we met I remember more vividly than most. The usual fears and worries were there in her eyes, but there was something new, different. Like a fire trying desperately to escape the vast expanse where I first noticed it. The kind of raging inferno that you are too terrified to expose to the fresh air outside because it might just consume you, but the kind that you are constrained to set free. For the first time I can remember I wasn’t able to understand what her soul was saying so I was forced to ask.
“What is it?” I asked in quite possibly the most pathetic squeak of a voice. So pathetic she barely understood what I asked and she couldn’t help but laugh. Not at my question but at the frailty in which I spoke.
“Felix, you can’t possibly want to know the answer to your question.” “What do you mean?” I quipped. “I mean exactly what I said. You cannot possibly want to know the answer to your pathetic question.”
I probably should have been offended, at least that’s what convention would tell me, but I wasn’t. Instead I was comforted. She was right. I didn’t want to know the answer because it terrified me. She knew that, but she also knew I had to ask. For she was the one that taught me the importance of asking questions.
“It’s perfectly okay for a question to go unanswered, Felix.
As long as you are brave enough to ask it doesn’t really matter if you find the answer.” She had once told me in one of our secret meetings. “But a question that is never asked will kill you inside. Do you hear me, Felix?” I nodded. “No, I mean do you really hear me?” She insisted. I simply nodded again. “You remember that always. And don’t you ever forget it, Felix.” She used my name three times that night.
So, like the perfect soulmate/friend that she was, she chose to leave my question unanswered, and she somehow managed to subdue that fire in her eyes.
Perhaps to spare my curiosity, or more likely to protect herself. I’ll never know. That was the last time I ever saw Elayna. The last time our souls ever connected.
But I never forgot.
– – –
A “question that is never asked will kill you inside.” She had said.
I suspect she was right, because I’m quite certain I’ve died a thousand deaths since that night.