Life sucks. I'm depressed, and a complete failure at all I touch. And while it remains undignified to admit total depression in one's life publicly, you are a complete loser to admit failure without simultaneously checking-into an expensive Malibu rehab center right behind some depressed actor like Ben Affleck. Even for Affleck the glamor of rehab or a new hair design beholds his followers and lovers.
You don't need a DUI to know you drink too much, only one beer. In my case, I only need a mirror. There I stand. Almost 40. Balding. Ok, bald technically if I'm more honest than Affleck. Deep crows feet. Zero offspring. And the only prospect for change is a fair chance I'll loose my job this year.
One disagreement with the corporate elite and I'm homeless. Silence is all that keeps me inside my eight by ten square foot studio, or a step-up from the box they'll carry me out in. It wouldn't take much to become more dependent than I was at age 12. My career started at 13, and I stowed away more cash mowing lawns than I can at $70K a year. Trying to reposition my prospects before layoff is equally as futile and about as bright as holding a sex-addiction seminar for priests. Depression sets in.
The other night I was dinning with my cousin, Rebecca. She is not depressed. She is happier than she has ever been, with the love of her life waiting in the wings and a successful career as an attorney, she is looking forward to coming home to Gotham soon from her sterile-stint in San Jose. I am thrilled everything has linked up for her better than Google. But she committed the worst social sin of all, when she asked me whether or not I was depressed.
No longer sure if it is favorable to lie, my answer was, "Yes. I'm depressed." Although, the laundry list of reasons why life today means little came clean without resistance. I don't have a relationship. Dating sucks like a pedophile. I hate my job and career. I don't believe in democracy. The United States is heading for a brick wall at race car speed. Television already crashed into the lowest common entertainment denominator, and The New York Times isn't much better. "So, those are some reasons," I state breaking a smile.
"But when were you happy?" she asked. A trick question only the closest family member can get away with. Once. I would have cuffed any friend for hinting this follow-up line of questioning.
"When?" I repeat to buy time. My guard was down, and venting built-up frustration was feeling good. I remember a happier time, but don't enjoy recollecting passion. It makes me feel worse. "I was happy when Steven and I went to Paris. I was in love, we were in love, and we were in Paris -- how could anyone be happier than that?"
"Wasn't that last year?" she asked.
"No, that was in 2000."
That was already three years ago. Any hope of salvaging past memories during this conversation succumbed, I'm convinced, to my sagging stomach muscles. "To think," I said to Rebecca, "Y2K was the last time our votes counted for something."
The grass was green and we were innocent and we humans collectively mattered to each other and to our politicians. Right, bullshit. But something changed, not only within me at the end of "a" relationship that year, something changed even well past what happened the following September. Something fundamentally changed around me, and the result leaves me dispirited, or about as inarticulate as George W. Bush.
I make a good wage, but barely survive. I have met more unemployed professionals in the past six months than I think the U.S. government knows about. Guys my age go all out for their personal ad online, but do nothing intelligent on the date -- like ask for a second one. Prices are going up faster than they did in the 1970s and yet inflation is not. We have the highest number of nuclear weapons in the world and yet we threaten to invade any country with a single warhead.
It is the lack of power over my own life that depresses me most, I tell Rebecca who is now looking at the cute waiter, Derek. Maybe my accent is on events of two Septembers past. But even that was so horrible, this city, this country, wish it away like a dying relative. This isn't about holding on, I said, "Maybe life spins so fast we've all lost our grip," she twitches in agreement.
The concept of living each day to its fullest is an excellent idea if you are a puppy. Humans need more than spirited clichés to follow, for tomorrow kindness is not guaranteed. Adopting a child has faded without an apartment for two. I've disengaged with other singles --the dating scene has become a series of one-night-stands. I've disconnected with my profession --journalists ignore the implications of our government's actions. I've alienated my colleagues --who spend hours upon hours of each day on conference calls discussing ways to sugar-coat bad news to the out-of-touch executives. (Many of them are depressed too.) Why have I fallen out of sync with everyone else? Rebecca does not know, she confides.
And there is nothing I can do about any of this. Powerless.
"Wow," she said. "Let's change the subject."
"No," I shout. We need to bring back good times, I said. I loved communal living, like it was in the college dormitory. Anything was possible, no one was offended by wearing boxers on a Saturday afternoon into the cafeteria. You had built-in buddies sharing your room. Now I have one plant, and even that is a female.
Life is best lived asleep, I said. Dreams denounce depression, because they are under my control. No matter how bad the jokes, my audience floods the stage with laughter as I headline some spaceship comedy club. Regardless of weather I can enjoy a swim, without feeling cold. Making love means I grab the guy I want, plant a deeply passionate kiss, and he responds. Mixed in for fright is the occasional nightmare --falling from the sky, watching a plane crash into my building, or simply being mauled by a rabid tiger in a jungle of licorice. Now, if only I could find a dream job that doesn't end when the alarm chimes, I would once again have power and happiness over my life.
"Have you thought about seeing a therapist?" Rebecca asks.
"Yes," I said. "They are depressing to date."