and I’m back in highschool.
It’s a sunny, October day in two thousand sixteen, there are no clouds overhead. my shoulders rest against the fence, and my face, between the two bars, oversees a sprawling city; with a brown, foggish crown of pollutants. My feet are hot, and I’m clutching my car’s key fob through my pocket.
My mind races with pointless thoughts. My problem isn’t that I’m not enough for the world, but that I don’t want to be enough for the world. I don’t want to pour my soul into an essay for a college application. I wished they were cold and calculating; that my grades mattered more than my soul. My SAT scores over my emotional intelligence. Anyone could write a good essay, even I could. But few could muster good grades, I even I couldn’t.
I settled, but in my mind, it was a huge middle finger to America, and England, and whichever other country occupied my mind back then; with pointless questions about my motivations, and who I was, and why I deserved it.
A few days ago I had one of my first dates with my first girlfriend. We sneaked into Universidad Iberoamericana on a Friday afternoon. We raced down the halls and pretended to care about the facilities. I would apply to that college later on.
Recess is over.
Only two students care about Law class, including the teacher. The nephew of a former governor, and the only gay man in my generation. The gay man was from the Netherlands, and he captivated us through his eloquent use of legalese, as the governor’s nephew poorly delivered his defense.
The teacher never did care, and the dutch man often graded us with her permission. The governor’s nephew was the class favorite though; he had invited all of his friends over to Acapulco for spring break.
The dutch man, while eloquent and self secure on the surface, was deeply, deeply scared of himself, he didn’t like the anxiety that overran him, and the unwarranted hatred people had for him. The first time he socialized with the other men was at a houseparty in my house. He cried, and accused my friends of being homophobes. I was startled. While he remained silent in the hallway I entered the room where all the men, and a few women, sat; quietly.
Their pale faces revealed the gutless discrimination inside them; they knew they were wrong to be bad to him. But they couldn’t stop feeling weird about a man that felt attraction for other men. Hell, through their mind they probably thought the dutch man had a crush on them. Even with their shitty apparel, omnipresent stench, and shitty hair style; they thought that the gay man would find them attractive even if no one else did. I tried to make them look past it, and eventually, the dutch man was let into the group, even if it was only partly.
He never did forgive me entirely.
As the end of the school day approached, we made our way to “homeroom”; the classroom we spend the last ten minutes of the day before the bell rings. I never attended it. I made my way to my American government classroom instead; where the teacher I liked was.
I had failed civics last year, and since no one else failed it, there wasn’t any course I could take on summer school. The dean, instead, chose to leave me with her for the entire month. She said she had no intention on teaching about civics to a crowd of one. Instead she made me write my entire Extended Essay almost a year before it had to be turned in. Summer of twenty sixteen; when Britain chose to leave the European Union, a decision that galvanized my idea that I in fact did not want to be enough for the world.
She was a third generation latina from California; she spoke broken Spanish and graduated from UC Irvine. She had just gotten pregnant, and planned on moving back to America.
By October, I was already on the third revision, and I had a new comment from her every single day on those last ten minutes. We weren’t alone, like every other teacher, she had to tend to her own homeroom group, but she tended to middle schoolers.
This time it was different. One of the middle schoolers, Ray, called me out. I craned over to her table, she folded her Ipad away and looked at me.
-May I see your essay?
I nodded, and handed her my Ipad.
After taking the tablet away from my hand, she headed to one of the corners of the room and sat on the ground. I grabbed an empty chair and sat next to her, as she read the entire thing.
-I like it. she muttered.
-Thanks, Ray. I answered.
The bell rings, and we all rush to the exit, some take a left to the bus queue, some go straight on and have their parents pick them up, and some take a right, towards the parking. My white Jeep has been on the sun for a number of hours, and when I open the door, hot, stale air rushes towards my face.
I wake up.
Why do I remember Ray so vividly? She never cared about me, in fact, she grew ashamed of liking me, so she kept her distance to me on the last days of school.
The Dutch man, why do I feel like I betrayed him so much? Later on I’d follow an ambulance that transported him to hospital, and I’d also find out he had sex with a friend of mine.
My ex girlfriend, why did I like her? After she returned from Arizona, and tried to study medicine here, she eventually wound up in my college, we hooked up last semester. It felt wrong, and we never addressed it.
What have I grown, if anything, in the last three years? Why do I dream of dead years, dead times, dead personalities that mean little to my life now? Am I ashamed for not recognizing my mediocrity, and how it shaped me?
The sweat emanating from my body is not the consequence of a disease, but of the unrelenting heatwave that dominates Mexico City today, on March two thousand twenty. I rise from bed, and make my way to the window. This sprawling city is condemned by a crown of brown pollutants, and I’m in the middle of it.