Q: So, when you look at me, do you feel, as Lacan described in the mirror stage, like a unified ego?
A: No, not really. If anything, I ask: Why is my face too big for my body? Am I sure these are my arms? Compared to my pecs, why are they so puny? My legs too. And I work them out, work them out a lot–That’s what’s so frustrating about it! This goatee that I’m shaving, it’s like there’s more on the left than on the right. There is. Don’t you see? For some reason, my body parts just don’t seem to fit together. It’s like I have a body whose organs are not mine.
Q: You say you’ve been remembering a lot of stuff lately. What stuff?
A: Oh, you know, childhood memories. Like those Sundays, when my family would go out, to the mall usually. We’d be walking side by side, all together, going to the same shops, asking each other what to buy, maybe watch a movie: one freakin’ typical family. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember what we did. How could we spend all day, every week, at such a place? Time came when I didn’t wanna go out anymore. Not that I didn’t want to go out with them. I don’t think it was the teenage thing either where I wanted to separate myself from my family. It’s just, time came when going to the mall on Sundays just didn’t seem like fun anymore. Then they also stopped going. So we just spent Sunday all day at home, my dad watching TV, my mom cooking, me doing my schoolwork, my sisters doing—well, I don’t know what they did . . . But we were just there, in the living room, and, you know, it felt familiar, secure . . . It’s like I could remember the shows my dad watched, how the kitchen smelled, where I was sitting . . .
Q: Do you think there’s a reason why you’re remembering all these?
A: I don’t know.
Q: When did it start?
A: I . . . It just seemed so easy back then. That’s all I had to do: go to school, study, go home, be with my family . . . It’s like I could measure my achievements solely on how I did in school, and that gave a sense of fulfillment. That’s all I had to take care of, all I had to worry about . . . I think that one day, it just hit me: I was no longer a child. I’m an adult. Living by myself, taking responsibility for my own life, living in the real world . . . Maybe that’s why I remembered all those things: I took comfort in them.
Q: So what you’re saying is that you’ve grown more mature?
A: Is it? Is that what I’m saying? Maybe. I guess everything before, all those times that I said . . . I guess whenever I thought that I was mature—all that was just pretending. Maybe I’m pretending even now.
Q: Your dad lived alone most of his life, didn’t he?
A: Uhum. His parents died when he was six. Some family friend took care of him, but yah, he was separated from his siblings, and when time came, he had his own apartment, lived alone . . . It wasn’t a problem, really. His parents were wealthy, left him a lot of money . . .
Q: That must have been lonely.
A: I have no idea.
Q: Do you think that if they didn’t have all that money, they would have stuck together, your father and his siblings?
A: I don’t know. All I know was that I could hardly remember the money. When I was old enough to know, most of it was gone. What with all the drinking and the gambling . . .
Q: You’re mad at him?
A: I remember this one time when I was six, seven maybe. He was drunk, my dad, and I was sitting by his side. He was drinking with a friend. He turned to me–
Q: Your dad?
A: He said . . . He kept telling me that he loved me. He kept saying, “Don’t you know? I love you. I do. You don’t believe me,” and it’s funny because . . . I’m so stupid. It’s like, after all these years, it’s only now that I understood the import of those words–why he had to keep telling me . . .
Q: The loneliness that you sometimes feel—his parents died early, he wasn’t really close to his siblings, he had friends who what, just drank with him–maybe he felt it all the time.
A: He didn’t have to. He could have chosen not to. He had all that money, a nice apartment–way nicer than this crappy place that I call home . . . He didn’t have to be happy the way that others were. He didn’t have to have the perfect wife, docile kids, the parents didn’t have to go out with the kids every Sunday, spending all that freakin’ time with such a perfect family . . . There’s happiness other than that. Or maybe, just: He didn’t have to be happy. He had money, such power in this world. He could have done a lot of things.
Q: Don’t you think you’re being tough on him?
A: He doesn’t have to be weak.
Q: You’re stronger than your father.
A: What am I, Batman?
Q: You’re not him.
A: Why does everyone wanna be so fucking happy?
Q: Don’t you?
A: Sometimes I stay up late at night–and I mean really late–just to hear the sound of the night: the silence that lets me know that I’m the only one awake . . . No, no, I think I like it too. I’m not just doing it to do it. I like staying up late at night.
Q: You can’t just do things just so you’re different. That’s just the same as doing what makes everyone else happy.
A: You know, ironically enough, just as I’ve been remembering all these things, all these childhood memories, sometimes high school memories, you know, that time when I still had friends–somehow I feel that the past year, last year, over my whole life, last year was the only time that I really started living . . .
Q: How come?
A: There’s always been this fear in me, ever since I was a kid: the fear that I wasn’t really living. That somehow, that guy over there, or that girl, was living the life I wasn’t, the life I couldn’t live . . .
Q: Interesting . . .
A: But now, I realize: I’m living. I’ve been living all this time. I’ve just always been too distracted looking somewhere else, at someone else, at what that other guy has, or what that character on TV’s doing–as though that was the only way to live. But now, looking at my life, looking at how I am–I actually like it. I appreciate the things I have, the things I get, the experiences I get to live, even though different from how they portray it . . . And what I feel about my life, it’s not, I don’t wanna call it happiness. They have a monopoly on that. It’s not settling either. It’s just my desire, my own, I mean. I feel all these things, the whole range of human emotions, I feel–and that’s okay for me. I just live, you know. ‘Go after what I want–even though I never get it. ‘Somehow be okay with what I do get . . . And then, just keep desiring.
Q: Good for you.
A: If there’s one thing I fear now, it’s no longer that I’m not living. Perhaps it’s now the opposite: to live like them, be the same . . . want what everyone else wants, lose my difference. Sometimes I fear that the difference I’ve always tried to lose, I’ve succeeded in losing . . .
Q: Hmm . . .
A: But then again, there’s always a bad day.
Q: ‘Never run out of those.
A: Nope. Good thing people like me are marginalized. Good thing life sucks.
Q: Good thing.