'Sandy' writes to you... In Exile
I received this email from 'Sandy' before Covid. I share it now. I will say no more other than I'm not in contact with 'Sandy' anymore.
Home, not quite Alone.
Hi. I wish to be anonymous but I am passing this on, to the writer Anthony J. Langford, so that someone may read it and learn from my mistakes.
I am 22. Whether I am male or female doesn’t matter. I’m not gender neutral. I just don’t wanna say what. I am writing from my bedroom, where I spend 90% of my time. I spend some time in the loungeroom but I don’t like being with my mum and my brother. So I hang out here most of the time. It’s my hideaway. My Me space. It’s also kind of a prison. Because I never leave it. It’s my own doing though. I can’t blame anyone for that. But I kind of do in a way and I’ll explain why.
I was your normal teenager through secondary school. Normal meaning like all the usual dramas, ups and down. And plenty of those. But mostly it was ok, I guess. Then I went to uni. It was better than school, at first. But then the work got hard and I had to get a part time job too to help my mum out. She insisted. Thanks for that Mum. It could of made my life better if I didn’t have that job.
Anyway’s I loved it for a long time. University, not the job. Mostly because I had a group of friends and we had a lot of fun together. Especially that first year. We had lunches, barbecues at each other’s houses, lots of drinks out at bars and club. All the good stuff.
The second year was more serious and we kind of slowed down a bit, with the partying. Not that we went crazy partying, but with hanging out. Plus, it’s expensive to go out too. I don’t know. People just retreated a bit and before you know it, it’s Year Three and we hardly hang out except for at Uni and on our phones. Instead of doing group work at each other’s houses, we did it online. It’s not the same you know? It’s hard to get meaning across. You realise that when you’re doing something like group work. It’s different if you’re just talking shit or whatever but when you’re focusing on a stressful assignment it’s a freakin nightmare. And that’s when I really starting stressing out. Uni stressed me out. My friends annoyed me. Especially online with all the shit they talk. Notice how some people you think you know them, they talk shit online? You begin to wonder which is the real person.
It turns you off wanting to hang out with them. Not that we were hanging out so much, but it annoyed me having to see them at Uni and sit with them in lectures and pretend we were friends, when I know they had just posted some shit that pissed me off. They act all tough and warrior like and pretend to care about this issue and that issue but I know they actually don’t do anything about it. It’s just all talk to act cool and get some attention. I hate that. Pretending to care is bad enough but the attention seeking thing is really super annoying. I guess a lot of people do it? But I hate fakeness when it’s so obvious because I know those people in real life and I know what they’re like. And they’re not like that!
Take my friend Steph. (Not her real name). She’s obsessed with tatts. Hers and everyone else’s. And also nails. Her nails. Not everyone else’s. She posts about the environment all the time. That’s fine. A lot of people do it. But she never does anything about it. I mean, I don’t expect her to chain herself to a tree in the Amazon rainforests but at least don’t buy takeaway juice containers and throw them in the trash. They’re made of plastic. She buys takeaway coffees and iced tea and I mean, her carbon footprint is pretty big. She hasn’t changed a thing about her own life. Know what I mean? If your gunna sprout crap all the time, then at least do something about your own use of plastics and rubbish. She’s terrible. I don’t think I even want to be friends with her anymore, because of her online profile. I have had to snooze her profile so I don’t see her but of course she pops on all plenty of other socials. And sometimes I have to go like her posts so she doesn’t get agro. She can be a real bitch sometimes if she wants to be.
At least I don’t have to see her anymore. Which is kinda my main point here. Which is why I started this in the first place. I don’t want to see her anymore, or any of my friends, or anyone, period. The thought of seeing people makes my skin crawl. Weird I know but here me out. It began with people. The idea of being in a crowd. I started avoiding lectures because I didn’t want to swallowed by the hordes. Bumping into them because they’re on their phones. Its so annoying. The crowds on the bus to uni. The crowds on platforms. I began going to Uni later so I wouldn’t have to hit the peak. It was really stressing me out. I’d put my headphones in so I could at least block the sound of them out. Them. The people. That worked for a while. In time though, it stopped working. The music made me feel even more enclosed. I couldn’t hear people behind me, then I was the one bumping into others. It was creepy. Bodies ramming into you. Sweaty, smelly bodies. People’s leftover lunches and body odour and sushi snacks and chips and juices and drinks and more phone lights than a Christmas tree. I bet if you turned off all the lights at an underground train station like Town Hall, it would be like a moving light festival. A living Christmas tree.
A similar problem began happening in other places, like supermarkets. I would be walking along looking down at my phone, and someone would deliberately bump into me, that’s what it felt like anyway. It was really freaking me out. I guess I had to put my phone down because that didn’t happen so much but the last thing I wanted to do was to look people in the eye so I would look anywhere else but at them. The Floor. The Isles. In the middle of nowhere. When I went to the checkout I would never go to where there was a real-life person. I would always go to the self-checkout, no matter how busy it was. Then I wouldn’t have to deal with any one.
Now I don’t go to the supermarket at all. I couldn’t think of a worst place to go. Those people with their baskets and trolleys and kids and old people and people on their phone who are more obsessed than me, getting in your way. It’s just horrible. Actually, there are worse places than the supermarket but you won’t find me there either. I used to enjoy getting a takeaway juice. I still like a good blended juice but I don’t want to have to line up in a cue. Worse than that is waiting for it afterwards when there’s a pile of people standing about and if you’re really unlucky it’ll be some older person who decides they want to try and talk to you. What’s with that? I don’t know who they are. Why can’t they all just let me alone?
A few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, I had to go to the Service Centre as there was an issue with my car registration. I tried dealing with it online but no one responded to my emails. So frustrating. If I didn’t sort it out very soon, I was going to have to pay a lot more. I was out of time. I was forced to go into a suburb I hate. It’s a long story but it was so stressful. I had to ask Mum to come with me because I couldn’t cope with the stress. She was really unhappy about it but I’m glad she was there because it was a freaking nightmare. There were people everywhere there were numbers and tickets and counters with all different people behind them. I don’t think I would be able to work out what was what. I hope I never have to go through anything like that again. Certainly not by myself. And most of the time I don’t have to.
That had to end. It all had to end. It only got worse. So here I am. Alone in my room, sitting at my laptop, writing this to you. I have a small desk at the foot of my bed. I’ve got plenty of Wi-Fi so I set it up on the edge of the desk, turn all the lights off, put on my wireless headphones and pretend I’m at the cinema. I like it. It’s fun. That’s at night. During the day it’s a bit different. There’s too much light, even with the blinds closed, and the screen is a pasty grey. I don’t like the days much. I’m aware of where I am. Trapped. Enclosed. That’s when the 10% comes in. I’ll go out. Get some sunshine, as my mum says. Ill walk around the backyard. I do two -laps one way then two the reverse way. Sometimes I’ll do that two or three times a day. Or if I’m feeling really flat, ill just sit on the grass and stare at it, imagining the life between the blades. Microscopic insects, doing their thing. A life beneath us, in the dirt and clay. Life on top of life. That’s all we are. Larger insects running around like we’re all insane, on top of the ground, while just as frenetic, (that’s a good word) but more organised life teems below us. And so, it goes on generation after rotting generation. Milling, scrambling, fighting, killing, reproducing, pausing, finally dying, quickly replaced, so fast in fact that we never really notice it. Just a slight gap before its filled with new beings and the whole messy journey begins over, unable to pass on life’s learning and experiences. Just make the same old mistakes.
You know, I saw a sign a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe it was on my phone or something. I don’t even know what they were advertising but it said, ‘Does your puppy chew your furniture?’ or ‘Why does my dog chew my furniture?’ something lame like that. I didn’t take much notice of it at the time. Then later, I was thinking about it for some unknown reason. I thought, do people really not know why their dogs chew their furniture? I mean, human beings have had dogs around for thousands of years. If we haven’t learnt their behaviour by now, then we must be really stupid. We don’t pass on the learning. We should all know these things. Yes, I think we are really stupid. A stupid species. That’s why I don’t want to be a part of them. They can turn on you. You never know who or when. Even your friends. They can stab you in the back. You can walk down the street and a car runs off the road and bang. Or you can walk down the street and some creep makes a grab for you. Or work in retail and someone abuses you. Or the boss perves on you. And you get underpaid. And have to work too much. And spend years trying to climb the ladder but there’s always another step, another person above you and too many with you. It’s all so pointless. I don’t want anything to do with it anymore. And I didn’t then and that’s why I got out.