Sunday, May 23, 2010

see you in another life, brother

I get attached to fictional characters. Really attached.

But hey, I'm a nerd. And I guess falling-in-love-with-people-who-don't-really-exist is just part of my resume. I think something Harold Bloom once wrote sums up everything I feel. He said, "Imaginative literature is otherness, and such alleviates loneliness. We read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear, overcome by space, time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of familial and passional life."

What brings about this sudden confession that I sometimes (actually mostly) prefer the fictional world to the real one? The series finale of LOST. Go ahead, laugh at me. I was laying on the couch watching the final minutes of the show, and I was sobbing. Like, uncontrollably sobbing at what was happening on the screen. A few of my roommates who have never seen the show joined me for the finale and they just stared at me. The screen went black, I turned off the TV, curled into a ball and continued to cry and cry and cry.

I guess it's easier for me to invest myself into something predictable, something I feel like I can control. And yes, I just did use the word "predictable" to describe LOST. There's a first time for everything. But really, as I was laying there crying thinking about Jack, Kate, Ben, Sayid, Hurley and all the Losties I've grown to love over the years I started to think - I'll actually miss these guys. While the "real world" is so unpredictable and difficult to handle, I always knew this: Jack was going to try and be the hero. Ben was going to be shady. The Island was going to do some crazy things. Locke was always going to be a man of faith. They couldn't ever leave me, they were always there week after week. I could invest everything I had into their stories because I knew none of them were going to leave halfway though. It was easy.

Maybe that's my biggest flaw, my inability to stay invested in the "real world" because it's too unpredictable, too hard. I'm forced to give my heart to actual people who have the ability to break it. I have to work for friendships, I have to let people in, I have to accept myself for who I am. I can't sit from a distance and yell at the screen, I can't shut the book when I need more time to think. Participating when the going gets rough. It's the hardest thing for me to do. To express how I feel, to tell people I'm upset or happy, hurt or excited - I've yet to learn how. Maybe I can try and learn as I spend more time with the fictional friends I've grown close to in my lifetime. Maybe I never will, maybe I'll end up old and alone in some attic apartment surrounded by characters instead of people. Or maybe someday, I'll have the courage to say exactly what I want to say to exactly the right people like every fictional character I've ever admired has done.

Until then, It's back to the Pilot episode of LOST. I think I need another six season run before I'm brave enough to face the future.

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