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But I am different. I can pick out the day so clearly in my mind, and that marks when the world just flipped on its axis.
(Like this terrifying dream I had last night. I woke up on edge, stiff and tense, unable to calm down and fall back to sleep. A gust of wind came and picked me up, and I was weightless, head over heels, powerless and gone.)
Everything is different in the most subtle way. Do I look and feel mostly the same? Yes. But I seem to weigh more…somehow. I feel more present, and thus am heavier. There’s a stronger sense of gravity that pulls in my daily existence. I am more. There is more to me now than before, and I don’t have the time to catch you up on all that has changed. Either keep up or continue to go at your own pace. I will leave you behind. I have no qualms about that. The strange thing is so many people don’t realize that I’m any different. I probably seem mostly the same. Those recognizable bits are still in there, mixed with the rest, and probably resurface enough to keep everyone happy. But it’s a facade. Kind of. There are just so many people that I live apart from, and they credit my difference to other details, not to June 25. Wednesday, June 25. 10am central standard time. I will never forget that day. I don’t need a throwback Thursday or a calendar reminder to commemorate it. It sits there in my brain. A complete fact. A nugget of truth. Cold and hard. I no longer feel like I did on that day, sucked dry and empty, but I can remember that feeling so vividly, and I think of Richard Fu so often that it is enough.
(He was a part of my life. Every day. Every time. Now I’m doing things and he’s not there. He’s not a part of anything anymore. There are no new jokes; there are no jokes. I can’t stop doing the things, but why do they have to add up when he is only a negative space. It’s stacking up for nothing.)
It suffices to mark the difference in my mind. Me before. Me after. And this may seem overly dramatic and incredibly sensitive of me. Like I’m taking it too far. Like I’m making something out of nothing. But I don’t care what you think. You can never know what it was like that day. You can never know what he meant to me. And that makes me sad, but without that difference of understanding between you and me, I wouldn’t be able to write about it. So you just have to trust that what I’m depicting is accurate. Or don’t. Either way I guess it’s still a decent story. A piece to read. I will never forget that message. The sound of Zach’s voice. Weary and cracked and already a world apart from me. I will never forget that phone call. I will never forget the shock I felt. The disbelief. The strangeness of the whole world, all of it. The bagel I ate. The things I said in between knowing and not knowing. The sense I could not make. The panic. The helplessness. The realization that I am the smallest, most inconsequential being on this planet. We all are. Just one of the billions. We are a fragile bunch. Tie me together, I’m breaking.
I’ve thought about it a lot and I’ve critiqued it a lot. I don’t expect you to care or empathize or understand in any way. I don’t expect much of you, or anyone, because I know the walls of our minds are thick and soundproof. It’s a wonder we can interact with anyone other than ourselves, ever. A wonder we can stop thinking about ourselves for one moment. One second. No, I don’t expect anything from you, not when you have all of you whirring on in your mind. Like an incessant air conditioner. Just know, if you want to know, that I am different than what I was before. You can’t see it on me, but it’s there. I’ve absorbed it. In the line of my shoulders, in the valleys of my knuckles, on the edges of my ribs, in the crevices of my ears, along the curve of my knee. I will wear it out–it’s a raggedy tshirt I will never pass onto Goodwill. I feel like I should apologize. I tried to be sorry, but I’m not. At times I feel like I will never be sorry again. Take it or leave it.

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