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A Surreal Kind Of Dream

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I can feel things are changing, faster so than I first imagined them to. I pull out my calendar to mark off various dates (including this columnís frequent deadline) and itís already the eighteenth of April. Only about a month and a half before my last semester of my last year of high school is complete. Another well-worn page in the book of my life suddenly turned over. Has my four years of high school been (as many frequently put it) the best years of my life? Well that remains to be seen. As I flip through the book there are many memories, many happy times, many sad. I turn deeper in the book and see all but an infinite number of blank white pages waiting to be filled with stories. And there will be many stories to tell. Things are changing and I donít want them to. Part of me refuses to let go of the people I consider my best friends. I donít want to see them off, to see them disappear from my life. I donít want to lose them. I found out today that one of them has received acceptance to two Universities nearby. I was more relieved today than I had been in weeks. Part of me just wants to go back to the way things used to be, back to that comfortable sand box where life was simple. When living in blissful ignorance was the only important goal, where Iíd care more so about myself than anyone else. It sounds selfish and it is. I like where my life is now. I know whom I care for; Iíve realized whom I love. I enjoy speculating about world events, frequently eating pizza and cake (more so than I should), observing peopleís various mannerisms and getting to know both my friends and myself better. Thereís almost eighteen years of history behind me in that dusty old book, eighteen years of life experience but I still canít come to terms with something as coherent as realizing that things will change. Events that I have to give control over to because thatís the way life unfolds. I try and suppress it and I know that in the end I canít. All these changes, everything coming at me left and right. Itís too fast.

It all feels like a surreal kind of dream.

Come to think of it, everything seems that way lately. I try and bend time to my will, try and slow it down but it seems to have a complete reverse effect. My close friends and I spend an unprecedented amount of time together because we know that after the summer things will change. While they go off to University, Iíll be sitting here in my parentís house by the desk and the computer that Iíve been at for years typing away, submitting stories and poetry, articles and scripts and for a whole year my working life will be confined between these four white walls and checkered window providing me a glimpse of the outside world during long nights meeting deadlines. I have a feeling that no one wants change. Being familiar with oneís street, oneís neighborhood, oneís family and friends is comforting. Leaving that all behind is frightening. The experience of growing up, of moving on is indeed a jarring thought. But itís something we all have to do. Thatís what life is. An endless journey into darkness, into pitched uncertainty. Looking back on the recent years, Iím glad that I didnít grow up too fast and that my life seemed to evolve naturally. I see new friends Iíve made (much younger so than I) growing up too fast. Rushing into relationships, focusing their time on other people more so than worrying about themselves and just letting the little time left in their childhood slip by. Itís sad really and I tell them so. You enter high school as a kid, devoid of concrete life experience of any kind and after four years of slaving away at a dozen different desks, you leave influenced and changed. Hopefully, and if you let your life naturally evolve you meet people that will change the way you think and the way you are, you learn more about yourself and the way your conscious and subconscious selves work and perhaps you come to love and accept these new people in your life, you build relationships that youíll carry with you for the rest of your life. Our stories will certainly be much different. You and I are completely indifferent on the contents of our life events, but what we all share as human beings is the natural progression of growing older and if all goes as planned becoming self aware; realizing that what we do and say matters as much to us as it does to the people that we call our best friends. That our lives will have meaning. And by god, it will have meaning if you want it to. Others can only influence you so much, but itís the decisions that you make as an individual thatíll shape your future. Memories grow old and retire and all that we are left with, all that means something, is in the now, the present and in the bottomless future of endless possibility.

Life. It feels like a surreal kind of dream.

Thereís a fucking Jaguar parked down my street, nestled in the modest middle class paradise I call my home. Thatís what the suburbs have become. A peaceful, tranquil, almost separated existence from the rest of the real city, from the rest of reality. The real world is out there. You donít have to go very far. Just out of the suburbs and into the downtown core to see what life is like in the real world. I feel unimaginably privileged that my parents have worked hard all their lives to be able to afford living here. My suburb is perfect paradise where one can sit in a park with friends at four in the morning, drinking and talking about life, love and the pursuit of happiness, watching rabbits in spring chasing after each other happily. Life up here in the suburbs is simple, itís secure, but it echoes a silent scream of plastic existence.

I went downtown recently with a few of my friends and got a much-needed dose of reality. Seeing people deeply impoverished, seeing the garbage, pollution, intense commercialism and sex. It was a pleasant reminder of how multi classed western society really is; how much money we pay for our taxes and how disgustingly little is done to get downtown street dwellers into more favorable, more humane conditions. I walked past a street corner and saw a middle aged woman wearing faded, torn jeans and a tarnished sweater, a cigarette in one hand, a bottle in the other talking loudly and obnoxiously, every other word coming out of her mouth signaling profanity. Itís sad. It really is. North American society is grotesquely divided. Two of the richest countries in the world have people out on downtown street corners begging for change so they can eat, so they can get through another day. Does no one else see something wrong with that? It pisses me off, especially because life just outside the city is a fucking paradise! Iím not totally oblivious to politics in our government. I do tend to agree that partial blame must be put onto the people who live on the streets, because they chose this life. They are the ones who chose to drop out of our free education system (with probable reason to most likely), they are the ones who chose to stopped looking for jobs. Despite that, I canít get over that a rich, fortunate, western society such as ours canít invest their time, money and care into people that need it most.

It makes me puke when I sit down and think about what a comfortable fucking life Iím living up in the suburbs. It makes me puke thinking about how living up here is a fake existence, devoid of any concreteness, of any connection to what lies outside the front door. What the hell do we worry about up here? What fucking advertisements weíre going to wear, what movie we should watch, what person we should step on this week. I hate it here. I hate what weíve become; I hate how the world is slowly becoming empty. Maybe it already is. The only true way to find out is to strip everyone of social class, and to force equal opportunity upon people. That seems to be a literal impossibility since societal ideals are firmly rooted. Hypothetically, if one could shape oneís own society, with ďperfectĒ rules and regulations, with perfect harmony, spiritually, emotionally and physical perfections or what have you weíd eventually end up as where we are now. It would continue to be a subjective system, based on subjective principles. Thereís nothing we can do to prevent the eventual dismal end to society. We will always hate, wage war and give people who are unlike ourselves the finger. Thatís how things work. Thatís how theyíll always work. The universe was created on a blank slate, and so it will end. What matters is what happens in the middle. What stories we tell, what history we make, what people we connect to, the people we change, the people who change us and the people we come to love. Thatís what matters. History will only be important to you and those closest to you. No one else. Never stop thinking. Never stop realizing things about yourself. Never stop realizing the full range of your influence. If youíre not happy, tell people about it. Donít keep things bottled up because it will do more harm than good. It will do more harm than good. There are people out there that do care, that will love you for who you are. All you have to do is find them.

Itís been one hell of a long night. Hope Iíve opened your eyes to some things that to me at least, have proven meaningful. Should be interesting to see what direction life will take me in over this coming year. As for the downtown ďadventureĒ it ended in blood shed. We hear ambulance sirens coming from the distance and see a drunken man cross the street. The ambulance swerves and knocks right into the drunken man, we hear a unforgettable, haunting THUMP, see the man stumble aimlessly around the street until finally collapsing and a glittering pool of blood begins flowing down the street. They take him to the hospital and in the paper the next day itís revealed that he died from his injuries. How ironic life is. An ambulance hitting and killing someone. Reminds me how fragile human existence truly is. How life can change in an instant, by minor word or action. How that pedestrianís life changed so many people close to him. That memory, that life experience will stick with me forever.

The sign reads: WELCOME TO THE CITY.
If I had my way it would say: WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD.

See you in two weeks.

R.F.



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