I may very well have mentioned already that I am having the best summer of my life by far, and that things have turned out surprisingly better than expectations – and I’d meant every word of it. However, with the summer theatre season coming to a close and with the fall semester looming on the horizon, I’ve come to a realization that this summer paradise isn’t gonna last and I’ll be on the move again. Consequently, I’ve had to analyze the state and prospects of my emotional well-being and I have some interesting observations to share.
I have never been genuinely happy, or experienced genuine joy, in my life and at this point I’m not sure if I’m ever gonna get to experience such a feeling. All my life, what seems to have been “happiness” has only been relief that something I had expected came to be, or that some terrible calamity did not occur – or some consolation I’d given myself so as not to feel bad about myself or things around me. In all honesty, happiness to me has been an elusive folly! Although I cannot say for certain if I’ll be “happy”, I still would ultimately work as a musician – a composer, a singer, or a conductor – as my main occupation, and leave a substantial legacy. But here I am in the theatre business, and it is not necessarily a bad thing because I have a keen interest in the performing arts in general and opera is my favourite part of music, and opera is basically theatre with heavy/serious music. I landed on this job/summer internship by some good chance, and I am thrilled I’m able to work as both a theatre technician (stage manager and board operator) and as a musician (composer). The best part is: I’m better at the job than I thought I was/could be and I enjoy being able to do a good job at whatever. It’s the closest thing to what I wanna do for a career that I could find as an undergraduate student with the skill-set that I have developed so far. I get to work and live in a fairly decent environment, and I get paid. Fun, fun, fun! But one night, I got thrown off my emotional equilibrium after a day full of incidents:
It was the first day of tech rehearsal and those are always hard, for those who don’t know. We work with a very demanding director, who at times (especially during tech rehearsals) can be very difficult. We have a problem communicating: he’s 80+ years old, mumbles a lot, is a perfectionist and has a serious temperament. I work in the booth all the way up and back in the balcony in a 400-seat theatre. He sits in the 2nd/3rd row orchestra seats and gives me directions. We got into some arguments coz we couldn’t hear/understand each other. The work day lasted from 10:00am to 9:30pm – which is not uncommon but tech rehearsals take a toll on you. That night, it just so happens that my 2 bosses (who are also my 2 housemates) had to leave town for the night, and I was left alone in the house. Boy, that was a horrible night! I needed to talk to someone. There was no one. And then came the depression flashbacks …
By depression flashbacks, I meant, it was just like the nights back at either college I’ve been in when I was feeling low as fuck, didn’t know why or how, and didn’t know to handle my emotions. I started seeing my body as a waste of existence and started asking myself questions: What am I doing this here? Why is this happening to me? Why do I have to be alone? Why did I have a hard day? Am I not good enough? Am I ever gonna mount to anything? And so on … I couldn’t get myself to sleep, or even move my body to bed. I forced myself to cook something just for distraction, but I ended up setting off the smoke detector and felt worse about myself. Then the dogs started barking all around the neighbourhood – which meant there was some bear(s) around. That scared me also, since I was alone in the house. I tried to find company online but it didn’t seem like there was anybody whom I could start a conversation with without mentioning the circumstances of my existence and struggles (which are far far far too many). I wished somebody nice just popped up at my place and talked me down the ledge. I finally dragged myself to bed around 2:30am and must’ve fallen asleep after 4:00am. So that was that night!
The aftermath is some introspection (as usual). First order of business, I asked myself this: What would it be like back at school? If anything like this happened, would I be able to handle myself? Well … I examined the cause of the post-tech day rehearsal breakdown. All summer, I’ve been occupying myself very well. I work about 10-16 hours each day, either int he theatre (scene shop, booth, or backstage) or on my computer (writing music). And I am in constant company of those who are do the same thing: we live in the same house, we take breaks and go to bed and get up at the same time, and we talk about work all the time. We’re all in sync and, when we have hard days, we talk to each other and calm ourselves down. That night, there was nobody – just me, all by myself. And that’s when the thoughts crept in. Just being by myself, without company – the things/all the people that have been, in a very good manner, distracting me from my struggles and dissatisfaction about life gone – the depression came back in. It happened within a 12-hour span. It was scary!
Now, when I’m back at school, I don’t get to do this kind of work anymore. I am mandated to take classes I have no interest whatsoever in. There are no relatable fellow students. I have to work for grades and I don’t get paid. How am I gonna function? This is a serious concern, guys. I don’t wanna be back on medication. But more seriously, I don’t wanna be in a gloomy mood. All this time, I think I’m still living with depression. It’s just been very well-suppressed, and a good thing too. The problem is … when the suppression goes away. *sigh* I don’t know.
One outtake from the thought process after this breakdown though is: it’s good to have somebody around – somebody relatable, somebody who will listen. My bosses were good listeners when I told them what happened to me when they were out of town, but of course, they did not have solutions to my troubles. And it doesn’t seem like I could easily find relatable folks to talk to back at school. My 2 closest friends are will be there, but they’re not the most relatable either although they try to listen. And my best friend is all the way in Chicago and she’ll be a senior this coming semester. She’s doing great work as a sociologist and activist, and I don’t wanna distract her from work. And even if she wants to help me out with my emotions, there’s only so much she can do from hundreds of miles away. As for dating, I believe finding a helpful boyfriend would be even so much harder than having an already close friend help me out. I have a very large personal luggage/emotional package with me and most gay boys wouldn’t want to deal with it. Queer people tend to have a package of their own already, small or big. We wouldn’t want a double load in a relationship, would we? And I’m not trying to be dependent on people for my happiness. I’m just yearning for some company and empathy.
Well, happiness still seems rather distant at this point – if it does exist, that is. I wanna be able to sing “Dog Days are Over” at the top of my lungs some day and mean it, ha! For now, I’ll just revisit the Japanese song, commonly known as “Sukiyaki“:
Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni / Happness is beyond the clouds
Shiawase wa sora no ue ni / Happiness is beyond the skies