When I was in pre-school, I asked for books on traffic laws and animals biology. I just wanted answers. I wanted to know more.
I also wandered around the neighbors in elementary school. Turned out the area I walked around was kinda sketchy. But I didn’t think much. I just wanted to see what’s out there, and then make my way to my friends where there would probably be banana pancakes.
Right around 2010, Paranormal Activity 2 came out. I remember being at my friend’s house, and we would watch it on her TV screen with maybe 10 or so others. I remember how noisy we were, and how it was comfortable surrounded by so many that even if a spirit came to drag one of us, the dozen of middle schoolers there would be able to fight back. I also remember I didn’t look at the screen that often. I didn’t want some creepy gory thing to jump at me.
I remember the weeks followed. I slept with my back against the wall just so that something cannot ambush me from behind. I also slept with the lights on. And when that light kept me up way too long, I would turn on the radio.
Taylor Swift’s “Ours” was the top hit at the time. I remember it always being in the top chart, the “Late Night 20s” was the name I think. I would find comfort in knowing that despite how late it was, there were people out there, working, staying awake, potentially riding their mopeds home after the shows. It made me feel safe, knowing that I wasn’t alone and that there were people up, as if they were looking out for me.
And then one night, I heard the same songs from the night before. The exact order. And the exact commentary.
And “Ours” was once again the 7th or 8th on the list. The host also went “and here is ‘Ours’, continuing to stay in our top 20”. Exact words from yesterday.
Turned out it was all pre-recorded. At best someone at the station is putting the cassette in. But there probably wasn’t. It was 2010.
As time progressed, I think I just forgot about the movie altogether. Not that I moved on from the fear.
Fast forward to 2017, I was in Chicago, wandered by myself after seeing my parents out at the airport. I was at a park, at 11pm. The lights were just enough to not let me randomly trip on stairs, but not enough for me to see what’s out there. I might have even wandered into a maze bushes or something too.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned it was fucking dangerous in Chicago, especially at parks, and specifically at night. None of those thoughts crossed my mind. Nor the ones about the struggles of being abroad. I was pretty oblivious.
I think largely, I formed a formula for life early on. Do X, and be good at Y, and you’ll be fucking happy and relatively well off. The thought of there are people (and probably a lot) out there who aren’t monogamous or are doing it behind trash cans, well, just never crossed my mind. Neither was getting blasted out at a house party. I think I always kinda new there were more than what I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t the way to live life.
Being oblivious was simple. I just did my thing, and exactly just that. I’m sure I came across as a dick and probably was towards some people, but that was fine because that was the way to live.
Until, shit just kinda happened. I was miserable, and for the first time, the formula didn’t work.
I would go on to struggle a lot more, and be oblivious a lot more, arguably a bit less than before, and more conscious of it. I would also go to counselling, and make amends, at least a few of those. Surprisingly most people are nice about it, and embrace it for something better.
The internet somewhat helped, in a sense that whatever I wanted to explore, it was there. And didn’t help in a sense that its algorithm will show me what makes me feel good, and I would stick only to it. So I’m trying to talk to more people, tip-toeing into the unknown, of love, life, romance and the crazy fuck up shit that people do.
After all, the little adventurer back then would be so disappointed that I didn’t keep acquiring knowledge, especially of the things I’m not familiar with.