“So you don’t work, you don’t go to school, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d guess you don’t care for being around people- what the heck have you been doing with all that free time for the past few years?”
“Shit…” I exhaled and leaned my head back on the chair. “Sometimes I don’t even know what the fuck I do. Lately I just lose track of time, like it’s all skewed and blurred, but each year has been a tiny bit different. I guess I’ve mostly been wandering the hills or mountains. Whether on foot or my mountain bike; no real destination. That’s one thing I’ve tried to do everyday, no matter what, to try and keep me sane. I’ve hardly gotten out this last few years, other than out there.”
“Out in the mountains.” she half laughed and half reiterated skepticism. “You’re serious. By yourself? That doesn’t sound like a great idea to me.”
“Yeah, you and everyone else,” I resisted the inclination to roll my eyes. “but I can’t live that way- in constant fear of the what if’s. Hell, I’m hardly even living a life, I’ve got so much fear of life already. Maybe I do it just to flip off the what if’s every once in a while, or I want to discipline my mind and body, or maybe it’s that I feel compelled to just run as far away from everything and everyone as possible. I’m an expert problem-runner-from-er. Especially the ones that have no solutions, and no place far enough away to run to.”
“No wonder your mom is stressed,” with an air of flippancy. “Your parents let you do that, living under their roof and rules?”
I laughed a bit. “Holy shit, you don’t know how ironic it all is. Hell no are they OK with it. I was raised to be afraid of absolutely everything but the white picket fence American lifestyle. They were so strict and overprotective all growing up that though I know their intentions were good- I got left out of everything and didn’t make friends because everyone knew the answer was always no. I don’t entirely blame them for my not having friends; but pulling me out of school so young and homeschooling me because I was “getting an attitude” didn’t necessarily set me up for a lifetime of being a social butterfly. I mean I’m not even a caterpillar. But what any of this has to do with the mountains is that it got to the point that when I was 19 years I still wasn’t even allowed to walk down the street or be in the front yard by myself; enforced by the “our house our rules” sentiment; it was infuriating- and we even lived in the safest state in the country. I was slowly dying at the time, so my grandma on my mother’s side came out from Colorado to try and “rehabilitate” me, and I decided to go back with her for a couple weeks-”
“Hold on, slow down- I can’t write that fast.”
I paused for a minute to admire the massive oak tree creeping up to the window.
“Okay, go on.”
“Well I found my chance to give them an ultimatum to give me my freedom after feeling like I had been kept under lock and key all my life. I called my parents from Colorado saying I wasn’t coming home but would be moving into an apartment in Loveland to train with the state cross country team, because I knew a member of the team through grandma from my last trip out there. I honestly was serious about it all, it wasn’t just to blackmail my parents- I just figured that out last minute. As awful as that sounds, I couldn’t live cooped up in that haunted house anymore- and it *was* haunted, but not to get off on another tangent… So I wrote up a document stating that I would be permitted to go out on my own- no more “you need a man” bullshit- in return that I didn’t move to Colorado. And I’ve been able to go out ever since. Not without constant opposition however, but that’s not the point. So yes, I went from not being permitted to go around the block without my brother- who wouldn’t spend any time with me once he got a driver’s license- to going way out in the mountains, by myself, always.”
“So your way of saying fuck you to your parents, sounds like. Why didn’t you end up moving to Colorado?”
“I honestly have no qualms with telling my parents such a thing- the past is over. I do it for me. I do it so my tireless mind might feel free for a minute here and there, or maybe it builds character- I don’t know.”
“But you still seem to hold the past against your mom.”
“Because she still acts that way. Maybe she’s a little less angry than she was a few years ago- but that’s likely only because of all the hell I’ve unintentionally dragged them along in by not being able to get my ass out of their house. They know what real problems are now. But I don’t want to talk about that again right now.”
“And why not Colorado?”
“Oh, well my parents convinced me to at least go back home to Cali for a week to think and pray about it, say goodbye, and get all my things. I had everything packed and was ready to go when at the very last minute it came out that grandma was taking advantage of me, playing me to get revenge on my dad for “stealing” her daughter away at 18- because my parents met while mom was visiting California. Three days and they were engaged, and she moved away from Colorado to be with dad here- and that was over 30 years ago. Crazy shit to me. Something about “you just know,” but anyway- grandma had held that grudge all that goddamn time, she was trying to use me to get back at dad. I felt so betrayed that I never spoke to her again until the day she died. Not because I was that angry- I’ve never had the energy or attention span for much grudge-holding, but because whenever anyone would try talking to her after that all she did was harp on me about how my life was all my fault and i wasn’t getting better because I wasn’t praying enough, having enough faith, or I was living in the sin of rebellion, on and on.”
“Hm. Interesting… So mountains, check. What do you do with the rest of the time, when you’re not tearing the family apart?” she smiled humorously.
“Oh god, I guess mostly just feel fucking terrible and try to get through the day by any means possible. This year at least has been a bitch like no other- like, I don’t really believe in stupid diagnoses like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, but it sure describes it. but every year sucks in it’s own fucking special ways. But still each one *seems* to be worse than the last, so who knows. Hm…I play guitar, write songs, write other random shit; sometimes I try recording some of the hundred-some songs, but almost always end up deleting anything because I hate everything I make and I have no idea how to create or mix music tracks. I’m not serious about any of that though.”
I thought for a moment. “I spend most of my time at home with a couple dogs at home who like to bark at every blade of grass swaying in our valley of the winds. And some birds who I sort of consider friends, they’ll hang around until they get a girlfriend- just like people, right? But ultimately I think I just spend my time feeling sick.”
She finished writing and looked me in the eye. “OK, now what- In your opinion- has today brought you to seek treatment here?” she was likely trying to insure that I didn’t lie.