These fucking office windows, I should just stare at the ground as they pass but I don’t. I always have to look, and you know what? It’s the same every single time. Not once has it been a different train of thought that comes on, it’s the same fucking one over and over again. Ad nauseam, lather, rinse, repeat, same shit, different day.
The brain inside my head doesn’t function like most peoples do, confidently presenting my intense reaction to office windows as exhibit A. I’m sure there’s a diagnosis out there floating around, waiting for me to walk into it like a spiderweb where it can wrap me up and trap me forever, but I’m not looking for it. I’ve managed to get this far without putting a label on it, which might not work for the vast majority of people but I guess I’ve learned to live with this fucking brain by now so I can calibrate when I need to. Paradigm of healthy decisions, this guy.
Office windows though, they’re real slippery bastards for a mind like mine and I should know better. I should just focus on the music, run like cops are chasing me, and stare at the fucking asphalt like any other self-respecting introvert-ish person would. Running helps to make this train wreck of a brain a little less “determined to destroy itself” but sometimes a thought will take hold and fuck the whole balance up. A little more specificity would probably be beneficial too, it’s the empty office windows that get me. I actually like windows, it’s probably super-duper cliche but there’s something strangely calming and infinitely interesting about having this little glimpse into someone’s life. Not in a creepy, “hiding in your bushes” kinda way, to me it’s like looking at art in a gallery. You see a little bit of something, and you move on. It’s a little snapshot of the artist’s life, and for me windows are the same thing I guess.
It’s also a little reminder that everything isn’t always falling apart. Going on a long run at night around Christmastime is almost magical, through their windows you see people being joyful with their loved ones, sitting by a fire, decorating their tree, whatever the hell people do around the holidays. It’s this little unspoken, unverbalized exchange, as though the people on the other side are saying “hey guy! see, everything isn’t so shitty!” and maybe it’s just the dosage of bleak cynicism and self-loathing I regularly walk around with but a little warm and fuzzy from something so trivial is nice. Sue me.
So here’s the deal with the office windows. Every time I look into an empty office window I go down the same mental and emotional rabbit hole- I wonder, if I went inside and just stayed there, would I ever be found? If I was just out on a random run and found my way into an abandoned office suite, would anyone ever find me? How long would the people I love look for me? It’s a short fucking list but still, it features such heavy-hitters as my wife, my kids, and my mother so it’s at least a good list. This is where the thought balloon starts to fill with pee, I start doing the math. I start figuring and calculating how long people would look for me, and how many. How quick would people give up? Have I left enough of an impact on the people I love or would I end up being an old, grey memory that fades off into nothing cause I wasn’t everything I should have been? Would my children forget me? Would my wife move on with someone else after a few years? Am I Tom Hanks in Castaway? Fuck! It’s a symphony of shit, and probably emblematic of at least a few dozen mental disorders I could reasonably drug out of my system for good, but I’m determined to cross the celestial finish line without dulling whatever the fuck it is that makes me tick so I’ll be conducting this fecal symphony as long as I’m kicking around this garbage can we call a planet.
The even shittier part of it all, is that there’s also this faint, but very real sort of disturbing beauty in this whole mental scenario. The crushing sadness that comes with the realization that you’ve been abandoned, cast aside, forgotten about. Really living in those thoughts, it has a way of wrapping you up like one of those chenille throw blankets. You have one on the arm of your couch, just like everyone else. It’s there when you’re sick, it’s there when you’re just fucking cold, and you feel safe inside its embrace. Sadness has a sick way of feeling the exact same way, but it’s a dangerous and destructive perversion of comfort at its core. It’s the feelings that enable us to stay in abusive relationships, keep shooting the heroin we know is killing us, and to have that one last glass of scotch so we can tell everyone how we really feel. Comfort can be found in some fucked-up places, and sadness can be the warmest fucking blanket of them all. It’s a dead-end romanticism, kinda like going to a party at Morrissey’s house. I’ve never been to a party at Morrissey’s house, mind you, but I’d imagine it would be like this: a bunch of people having morose conversations about books nobody’s ever heard of, making black lipstick stains on vintage wine glasses a caterer will be stuck washing later, and then leaving feeling outrageously dead inside when they realize it was all fucking pointless posturing and they’d have rather just stayed home and watched The Office for the 476th time.
That’s the only kind of comfort sadness manufactures in my experience, it’s a warm fucking blanket but it’s not one you should spend any significant amount of time being snuggled by. It’ll keep you, wear you down, and leave you with nothing when it’s finally sucked what little life is left out of your lonely body.
So, that’s the fun-filled adventure my brain takes me on when I gaze into an empty office window while running. Jealous yet? No, of course you’re not. For most people, thinking like this would ruin their fucking week, month, year- whatever. Me? It’s usually like the tenth one on any given day, I’m less used to it that I like to think I am, and I’m more used to it than a mental health professional would tell me I should be. All in all, it’s not the greatest balance but I’m not dead yet so that must count for something. I should have gotten into the fucking movie business, my brain sees everything in fractured desolation scenes. Cinematic little mini-apocalypses any time my mind catches on a thought process containing even the smallest hint of something deeper or a tinge of darkness somewhere bubbling below the surface.
I didn’t get into the movie business though, so here we are. Running in some shitty office complex, having a manufactured existential crisis by staring into an empty office window, and wishing I had anyone’s brain but my own. An easy one, a brain that doesn’t see through all the delicately placed layers of bullshit life has turned into. One that doesn’t see the darkness in people’s eyes that they only think is hidden from view. One that doesn’t know what it’s like to hurt so much that it has more familiarity with sadness than genuine happiness. One that can look into an empty office window and admire the carpet on the floor instead of projecting onto it a bleak and depressing disintegration scenario that ruins my fucking mood for the rest of the week. Is that something that’s possible? We can kill via drone, we have the ability to order enough shit from our phones to never necessitate leaving the house again, and we’ve got the technology to collide particles in the quest to discover the beginnings of the fucking entire universe so we must be able to swap brains at this point, right? No?
I’m not even asking to be a completely different person, I just want a brain that isn’t equal parts doomsayer and Robert Smith lyric compendium, is that too much to ask? Who am I kidding though? This brain I’m carrying around might be what I’ll affectionately call “battle worn” but it’s mine, god damn it. I am immensely proud of the fact that I’ve managed to somehow live almost 40 years without going completely insane from this shit, and I might be a mess sometimes but at least I can fucking think. That’s more than I can say for pretty much everyone else out here, sleepwalking through every day and perpetuating the “work, consume, die” cycle life on Earth has devolved into. I might be overwhelmed by my thoughts sometimes but at least I fucking have them and I can hold my head high in the knowledge that I don’t have to think like the mouth-breathing masses.
By the way, it’s a good thing there isn’t anyone inside this particular office window right now, cause I’ve been standing here for almost 12 minutes staring inside like a jackass and I’m pretty sure I’d be scaring the shit out of any occupant that would be looking back out at me so, lucky for them- they’re somewhere else entirely and I’m here. Alone. Staring into a fucking window. Fuck this, it’s time to kick my inner drill sergeant into gear: “get moving asshole, Christ! You’ve been standing here playing sad-sack long enough, put those fucking feet to the pavement and get the fuck out of here!”
Thanks, internal dialogue. I guess I can’t stay here forever, staring into a window wondering what it would be like to get lost inside and forgotten about. I’ve got shit to do, the first of which being that I need to get some miles behind me and all this “woe is me” shit isn’t exactly marathon fuel. One foot in front of the other, onward past the rest of the empty office windows, pretending they’re not there for me to look into. Pretending that the abyss isn’t always just below what we can see, that things in this world are perfectly OK enough for me to finish this run oblivious to all the darkness I wish I didn’t have to see but can’t for the life of me not see. Just keep running asshole, and maybe that brain of yours will shut the fuck up for a minute. One sweet minute, suspended in time, without a worry or a thought at all. No abyss, no windows, just the empty space of an unburdened mind. Running, breathing, being alive. The simplicity of performing basic human tasks, unencumbered by basic human bullshit. I’m not entirely sure someone like me can ever actually achieve that, but I know I won’t find out standing around here so off I go.
NEXT UP: AN ENDING/CHAPTER 1- DESOLATION SCENES (II)