A story about being alive


I stay up all night, long after all the old movies and infomercials are done. I had watched Ben-Hur for what seemed like the first time.
I think about how I’ve been sleeping in later and later, and how I don’t especially care. I haven’t bathed for seven days. I feel as if I have no friends – and I don’t.

Moving to a new place is always difficult. Though I’d had troubles in my previous home, mostly because I’d get into fights and win every one, I miss it. I miss the people who didn’t want to kick my ass; I even miss the people whose asses I did kick, and would later come to my house in groups to threaten and spit.

I walk outside. It is foggy, and the fog is so thick that I can feel its wetness seeping into my clothes. The sky is beginning to light. The fog will clear soon, when the sun gets to be overhead, but it is five in the morning, so I still have time. I walk back inside to put on my shoes. I forget socks.

Outside again, I feel the cold, healthy air on my face. It’s coming from the ocean (today I miss the smell the most), and it’s cold enough to perk up my small male-nipples and turn my legs and arms a little purple. I know this will pass, and it will be annoyingly hot in the afternoon. My mind is blank as I begin to walk. I walk over the hill, toward the harbour. I change my direction, beelining to the ocean, to pass my school. I go to what I will in the future refer to as the smokepit. I see the cigarette butts of forgotten years mashed into the dirt and pavement. I don’t know yet that I will be here, that I’ll sit here with friends and enemies around me, almost at arm’s length. I continue my walk.

I get to the ocean when the sun is finished warming the sky, sunrise long gone. I walk through the War Memorial, over Water Street. I walk down a small dirt road. I must touch the water. I go past empty shops and ancient houses, and find the seashore. St. John’s Harbour is not fit for swimming, I realize, but I take off my shoes. I forget them, and place my feet in the cold, cold water.

Suddenly, amazingly, I am filled with my connection to the earth. I know of nothing around me. I can only feel the rocks and seaweed under my feet. I reach down at the seaweed, and timidly touch it with the first two fingers of my left hand. Its green-purple surface shines in the brightening light. I feel important, I feel necessary. I feel as if I am a part of a greater whole.

Because my feet are in the ocean, so cold.

I look to my left, and I see a jellyfish caught between some rocks. A memory surfaces of when I was young, catching jellyfish and bringing them in to shore, laughing at their brainless forms. I do not know if the jellyfish is alive, I don’t know if tide is coming in soon, or if it is going out. I scoop its pink-blue-white form up with both hands. The tentacles fall under my hand. I hold it at arm’s length, careful not to get stung. That would ruin my day. I note with some wonder its weight as I place it in the water.

I get up without noticing its progress. I turn away, almost smiling, immense happiness fills my chest. I don’t want to see if it lives or if it is dead. I simply know that I did something good, some small, minute thing. My disappointment would be quite great if it was dead already.

Later, I have a shower.