I’m not sure what brought my mind back to that morning, but something must have set me off.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before here, but let me recap. Please note that this story is a few years old, but I am in a bit of a writing mood so I want to play with it a bit. It has been a while since I last told it anyway.
A few years back a friend and former flatmate moved out from my apartment. I knew at the time that he had some mental instability, however it was something that never really got in the way of our relationship.
Early one morning he buzzed the intercom and asked if he could pick up some stuff that he had left in the apartment. I said sure and let him in. I could smell the whiskey on him almost before I opened the door, and the man that stood in the doorway was clearly disturbed. He was wearing old pants, a back protector (kind of like an armoured vest for motocycles) but no shirt, and carrying his helmet. I had been working the night shift the previous night though, so I didn’t really give a shit.
I told him i was going back to bed, but he asked me to check his emails.
“The computer’s on, go nuts” I said drowsily.
“Man, after all the shit I’ve done for you the least you can do is log in for me.” There was something in his voice that made me think that arguing was probably not the best idea.
“Fine.” I sighed as I sat in the computer chair, which faced away from the kitchen. “What’s you user/pass?”
“XXXX@gmail.com,” he said, before mumbling something.
“What was that?” I asked, starting to swivel my chair.
“I said XX…” and then he was upon me. He put his left hand on my left shoulder, and I instinctively moved my left hand to brush it off – and it was my left hand that caught the knife. I can still remember the hot pain as the blade bit into my hand and neck, and the eternity of swirling counter moves that spun through my mind. It was probably only a second, but it felt like an hour before I remembered that my brother was crashing at my place. I screamed once, but the pressure was still on my neck and it was hoarse and quiet. I wriggled in the chair and grasped the knife tightly, cutting my hand more but removing enough pressure to call out my brother’s name.
In the police report, he said that I sounded like I was gargling water at the time, and almost didn’t bother getting out of bed (he was also working the night shift at the time).
There was a scuffle and eventually we got the upper hand. The guy left (he actually buzzed again 5 minutes later, before the police arrived, to ask if we’d let him in to get his helmet back), and after the police had gone we got a call telling us that he was locked in a mental hospital.
I think he was there for about 3 months at least – long enough that the police didn’t bother charging him.
Once we got that call we unlocked the door and wend shopping. I remember going to the supermarket and thinking “you know what? Fuck it. I’m going to buy some fatty bacon and enjoy the shit out of it.” I also decided at that time not to let myself play the “what if” game. Before that point, I used to beat myself up over everything. For example, I had a female friend that I really wanted to date, but like all nerdy teenagers, I always botched it and ended up in what would be known as the Friendzone a decade later. But after every meeting, or phone call I would keep doing the “what if I had said X, or done Y… then things would be different.”
It was paralyzing me to the point where I know that I came off as more than your average weirdo. Thankfully I was forgiven.
But after that day with the knife-wielding maniac (and he actually was diagnosed with Mania, so I can say that) I stopped playing the What If game with the past, and only did it with the future.
I think, in some ways, it has made me a bit callous. I know that when my Dad died my reaction was less screaming and wailing and more “Okay, so that happened, let’s go through the motions of getting the funeral sorted.” But in other ways, it means that I (think) that I am focusing my energies on more productive thinking, and more productive What If games (i.e. those looking at the future, or business cases etc).
Now, I don’t suggest that you go out an get someone to almost kill you. It is a risky game. However, I think that sometimes you need a kick in the pants to change your thinking. I was reading the story of Sophie Hayes (http://sophiehayesfoundation.org/about/), whose story is terrible not only in what happened to her, but the fact that it is happening to millions of women across the world – and I suspect if I step outside my hotel I could find a victim within 200m (I also wrote about a similar book some time ago: Slavery, Inc).
To think that something as terrible as being trafficked can happen to someone and yet they are able to continue with their lives makes your day-to-day problems seem pretty insignificant. So if you’re bummed about how much school or work sucks remember that there are sometimes worse things that can happen. And, in all likelihood, there is someone who can appreciate your story and maybe give you some advice.
Okay. I think that is enough. I am quite tired yet hopped up on a strong, after-dinner espresso. I think that I will crash soon.
Oh, and there have been two AG chapters in the past week for those of you keeping score.
Today’s picture is a boat that got burned in order to help guide some spirits home…