I live with Jack in a two-bedroom apartment.
When my parents kicked me out of the house, I found this place online and went to meet up with Jack. From the moment I walked through the door, he just acted like me moving in was a done deal, and asked me all sorts of questions, to get to know me, I guess. I had my doubts at first, between the horrific mess of the kitchen, the strong pot smell and the state of the room, which was being used as a storage space. Long story short, six months later, we haven’t had a fight or disagreement. My freshman year, the guy I shared a room with, Dylan, didn’t speak to me more than twice in the whole year. It didn’t take long to drive home just how different living with Jack would be.
The first time I entered my room, when Jack gave me the tour, it was so cluttered that I’m actually impressed Jack managed to fit all the old coats, magazines and various oddities elsewhere in the apartment. Before I’d had time to unpack, he knocked on my door, holding two beers in each hand. I think I didn’t really know how to deal with him yet, because I remember just stepping away from my door, without saying anything or even gesturing. I don’t think I understood what he wanted. I hadn’t left the house in a while, and my social skills were rusty. Apparently, he didn’t mind, because he just stepped in and bounced down on my bed. He opened two bottles, handed me one and just lounged on my Star Wars bedsheets for a little bit. The conversation started slowly, I think he just made comments on my little comic book collection. Eventually I asked some boring question, about the neighborhood or something, and we got talking. He grabbed my computer to show me some article about marijuana curing cancer, and even opened my browsing history before I wrestled the laptop from him. The way he is, I’m unable to be mad at him, even when he does stuff like that.
There’s no pressure when I talk to Jack, no expectations, from him at least. I know that I’ll always feel self-conscious, but he really makes it easy for me. Every time I hole up in here and talk, I want to show him the recorder. Hell, I even want to show him the recordings. I will, eventually.
I went to see someone a few times. I was badgered into it, and the college paid for it, so I very reluctantly shuffled into Mrs. Tavenobi’s office. It was a very conscientious room, I guess, and it didn’t give me the best first impression. It was so obviously made to feel warm and welcoming and just validating everything you see in movies. The token bookshelf full of thick, topical textbooks; the nice, cushioned chairs, the large windows, the glasses, the thin, pale green sweater and long black skirt. She was friendly, and cracked a well-worn joke about some miniature that stood as the lacquered wooden desk’s only decoration. Then, we got started.
It was honestly tiring, mostly me answering her supposedly profound questions. My side of the conversation certainly wasn’t. I guess it says something that I can’t remember a single thing we talked about for the first couple one-hour sessions. On the third, I came prepared.
She always asked me about my dreams at some point, as if to cross that out of some checklist. When I invariably told her that I didn’t remember my dreams, she told me to write them down as soon as I wake up, or tell them to someone. On the third week, I spent a few minutes sitting in that comfortable chair, thumbs rubbing the polished wooden arms, telling her about the clown. It went something like this:
“I had the strangest dream last night. I woke up, and there was a clown next to me. I don’t even know where I was. I sat up, and there was the clown, his shiny white face inches from mine. All of a sudden, I can’t move, and I feel more terrified than I’d ever been. Lots of time passes, I mean it felt long, and the clown stares at me, his face barely moving enough to assure me that he’s real. At some point, my fist flies into the white paint, and he’s on the floor, except I can’t see the floor and it’s just me and the clown, and I start kicking him in his ribs. I still feel so scared, and it’s almost like I’m watching myself beat him, it’s so weird…”
Obviously throughout the story, she’s behind the desk with one leg crossed above the other, thoughtfully bobbing the glasses with the rest of her dull face. Anyways.
“Eventually, I seem to have taken off one of his oversized shoes, and I’m driving the heel into his face. There isn’t really any blood, and the beating sort of tapers off. The last thing I remember thinking is, I should be feeling more…”
By now her nodding had become so exaggerated that she looked like a bobble-head toy. I’d given her everything she’d hoped for. She broke the short silence tentatively, as if she had too much to say and didn’t know how to start, something like “That was very interesting, Chris.” Her mouth stays open for a bit after that, and then she really lays it on thick. Obviously she doesn’t say anything outright, but it’s these questions, “Did the clown look familiar? Was it a he?”, and “Do you often feel like you’re a spectator to your own life?”.
She was full of energy for the remaining half-hour, and I tried to indulge her, but eventually I just admitted that I’d never dreamed of anything like that. She nodded and continued probing, more directly this time, saying “Do you think that violence towards the clown represents an anger towards something in your life?”. I reiterated: I’m messing with you, that’s not my dream. She’d baited that question, I could tell by her self satisfied smile, and she simply answered: the fact that you bothered to make it up is just as significant as if you had really dreamed it.
I gave up on the whole thing after that, because, what’s the point, if they’re going to pull some bullshit like that, might as well not go.
Oh, I think Jack is back. Anyways, I stopped going after that, and after two half-hearted e-mails, the school gave up too.