Wherein the author relates his mental state during Mass.
“You know, God, I’d just like one week — one week! — where these demons aren’t chasing me. Is that possible? Is it possible to have one week where, maybe, my brain doesn’t over-think everything? Maybe where I can laugh and be entertained, where I can enjoy crappy music and bad movies because . . . well, they’re just so fun? Can I have fun this week, God?
Sure, I have fun — don’t get me wrong, God! — I laugh, I carouse and I chortle. You see it. But, the darkness at the edge of my vision is always there, whether I’m laughing or not. I laugh because I’m terrified by this existence that you’ve dolled out for me. I laugh so as not to be overwhelmed. It’s a survival tactic.
Why can’t I be like everybody else? Why can’t I just have fun? Why does everything have to have depth, gravitas or death for me to be moved by it? Why can’t I just go dance with my friends and make a fool of myself because I’m a twentysomething and that’s what twentysomethings do? Why is it that about an hour into it, I suddenly become aware of the fact that I will die someday, along with everyone else? That those beautiful hotties I’ve been ogling and writing over-the-top love letters to (in my head) will die, too? That our dancing bodies will decompose at the speed of a worm? Why do I never forget a broken heart?
For a week, can’t I just escape this little dollop of terror you’ve seemingly given me? Just a week — one week! — where my mind is quiet and I just enjoy existing? Where I can be like all the other twentysomethings preoccupied with their bodies, thinking that an outward change will suddenly lead to some bombastic inner salvation? Why is it that I don’t really give a damn what my body (or my teeth) look like? Why is it that I’m then preoccupied by vanity a few moments later? I don’t care — yes — but I don’t want to pay the price for apathy (namely fat and nastiness).
I read a few days, ago, God — I don’t remember where, so don’t ask — that all we need is a crucifix and it will teach us everything we need to know. So I’m looking at that big crucifix at the back. You know, that one that was a resurrected Christ until the Rector put it on a cross behind it and painted nail marks on the hands and feet? You know, that one. Why is that I feel like that’s my life? That I used to be resurrected, but now I’m crucified. So, I will consider those feet.
God, I’m really the most hyperbolically selfish person I know and I’m not even crucified (yet). Why is that that everything in my life has to have some awful narrative? Can’t you make the voice of that narrator inside my head — you know, the one describing everything I do — be silent for a week? For just a week. For just a week I’d like to not coerce of my sad life into an opera or a novel. For one week, I’d like to let someone else write the damn story, if they want to.
Be with all the people who’ve asked my prayers. You know who they are. I know who the are. But I really shouldn’t even ask, because you always answer everybody else’s prayers. They ask you for peace and you give it to them. I ask for peace, and — maybe! just maybe! — I might feel relief for five minutes. Hell, their lives are changed by one of those shitty inspirational Facebook image thingies that are littered with misquotes and chilches. I’m jealous, really, I am. For a week, can I be comforted by cliches?
God, I’m an asshole. I know I’m an asshole. I try not to be, really, I do. I want to be fun. I don’t want to buck the system. I want to check all the boxes. God, I really do. But why can’t I? Why can’t I just shut up and go along? Why can’t I just feel good? And laugh and be entertained? And get over stuff. And not think so damn much.
It’s the thinking that gets me, God, as you well know. I’d like to not think for a week. Do I even think? Look, there I go again. I don’t just think — I think about thinking! And I bitch, Lord, do I bitch. As Rae said last week (about someone else), “The Holy Spirit came down and you were bitching.” Yes, Lord, I bitch. But I bitch artfully — you’ve got to grant me that, Lord — I bitch with skill. I can ruin the world with my bitching.
Maybe this is what I want, God, for this one week: until next Sunday, I’d like to be able to look at the world and find a home. A home! Any home! You know I straddle a line between two communities (maybe more) that don’t really care for each other. There’s an uneasy peace going on here in no-man’s-land and it tires me the fuck out. You know, that land you put me in? Sure, they both respect me and they both honor me. Neither loves me — they only love me when I’m laughing! They only love me when I fiddle their fucking tune.
“Be yourself” they all tell me with a smile. Yet, when I’m myself it frightens them. They’ve even told me before not to be so honest; they worried that my soft underbelly would be injured! Guess what? I’m injured. I’m bleeding. God, you know I’m bleeding, so I’m not going to say that I’m not bleeding (Lord, should I say that I’m not bleeding?). I’m not going to pretend (Lord, should I pretend?). I’m not going to keep peace because they can’t handle pain (Lord, I should probably shut up now, shouldn’t I?).
Can I have a week — just one week! — where I’m not myself? Where I don’t over-think, where I don’t over-analyse every situation? Where I just exist? Where I laugh when the sign says to laugh? Where my sarcasm isn’t so biting? Where the darkness is behind me, not around me? Where I’m free from this body of death and contradiction? Where I can be ‘Andy, the horny, stupid twentysomething,’ not ‘Andy the writer, the existentialist, the . . . the . . .” Here he snaps his fingers and continues, ” . . . the . . . What is it? What am I, God? What am I to hate him so much? Just who, exactly, am I loathing?
(Why does it take me twenty minutes of active thinking-bitching to realize that maybe I’m not bleeding, but my masks are?)
I’m not bleeding . . . well, maybe I am bleeding . . . I don’t know. Can I have a week without any blood? A week without blood. Yes, that’s what I’m asking you for. In the name of Jesus, I’m asking you for a week without blood. Remember, God, you said that if I asked anything in the name of Jesus, you’d grant it to me? Don’t argue with me, you said it! A week where like old times, your sacrifice was sufficient and I didn’t have to add to it? Where your blood was cheap salvation for me? I want a week like old times.
I don’t want to be me anymore. Clock me out, I don’t want to do this anymore. I want a week — just a week! — where I’m a child again, reborn from nothing into something, living in wonder to everything around me. Can I have this, please? For a week? Though Christ, our Lord, Amen.”