I am the walking dead

I sat in front of this computer screen on Friday night with the intention of writing a humorous little post about something rather corny, the thing is I found it simply impossible to do. You see, Monday was a rather significant day in my life. As most recently recounted here, it was the day that I was supposed to die.

As the years have passed since I first started to have the dreams about December 17th, 2007, I had started to take it far less seriously. When I started having the dream, it was shortly after my father died. As I have gotten older, possibly wiser, I have started to understand that the horrific dreams I was having were probably just my mind trying to convince me that there was some sort of order to it all. Watching my father die at such a young age (both his age when he died, and my age when I watched it) had an effect on me that ran far, far deeper than just emotion, and it left me feeling like everything around me was chaotic; there was no reason for anything, things just happened. I could die at any second. While that is all true enough, I think the very sudden realization of it was a bit too much for my tender brain to cope with.

My mother was living over a thousand miles away when dad died, and through choices of my own and others I was left with my eldest brother (he is 4 years my elder) as my legal guardian after it happened. Books could be written about everything that could have (and did) go wrong with that arrangement, but for my purposes here, suffice it to say that he was no better suited to deal with the loss than I. After that, the girl that I had been dating for several years (a very significant percentage of my life up to that point) and I began to have problems. When our break-up was imminent, on the heels of dad’s death, everything that I had ever known was taken from me. Everything was in disorder and I simply couldn’t cope with it all.

My inability to cope with everything that was going on would ultimately lead me down a long, lonely road. I retreated into myself, and wouldn’t let myself get close to anyone for fear that they too would die, or worse just decide that I wasn’t good enough for them anymore -and worse yet, I started to believe that they were probably right. That sort of self-loathing played a huge part in why I started drinking: I simply didn’t care if I lived or died, and figured that no one else really did either. The battle with both alcohol and my self-esteem would take over a decade to resolve, but that is a story for another day, or possibly a story better left untold.

As for dreaming of my own death, I had always thought that it was a premonition. A frightening glimpse into the future that would be a constant reminder that everything I worked for would all be taken from me. While that may be true to a certain extent, and I think everyone probably thinks about their own mortality from time to time, I have started to think that maybe my mind was just trying to trick me into believing that there was an order to things. At a time in my life where everything was spinning out of control, my mind just kind of picked a date in the future for me to die. Far enough away that it wasn’t that frightening (it freaked me out in the beginning, and even a little right up until December 18, 2007), in fact not meant to frighten me at all, but to assure me that I had at least 17 more years to go. Of course my mind probably didn’t know that I was going to use this as license to do some pretty insane shit along the way; I felt pretty bulletproof after I started having the dreams, and as I was speeding down the freeway in excess of 160mph (or whatever crazy thing I happened to be doing), I did it knowing that I was going to live through it.

The fact that I have come to believe the dreams were just my mind trying to put a sense of order back into my life, though, didn’t mean that I wasn’t a bit freaked out when it actually got to be December 17th, 2007. When I tried to write a little something about the impending date, I couldn’t do it. And I went through that day with an awareness of what was going on around me such as I have never had before. I drove to and from work more defensively than I have ever driven in my life. I took special care to avoid even the tiniest bit of confrontation with others (I stopped short of catching a teenage shoplifter in the parking lot at work. I had his license plate, and we had it on camera, no need to take a chance on him having a knife and an attitude).

As an aside, I got my promotion at work somewhere near the middle of October. Through clerical and accounting errors, I was not receiving my paycheck. Each payday the District Manager was having to email the corporate office to get them to write me out a check. This week was the first week that I received a salaried check without all the fuss. The date of the check? December 17th, 2007. So I didn’t actually die on that date, but I certainly started a new phase of life. Maybe it was a premonition.

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