It was a long road from there to here, a lonely trek with deep valleys and high mountains, and I sit here looking back before I look ahead, then moving on to a land I’ve always wanted to be in but afraid I would not be allowed, a place where I hope to pass on what I know about where I’ve been and then learn some about the unfamiliar land for myself. My story is a story told by few, heard by even fewer; I hope that this is not a shallow plea, because many would not have made it this far and there is always something to be learned from the experiences of someone else.

Suicide is rough, painful, and hard; if you fail, you are no longer who you once were, but a less appreciated and a less respected being. If you play it wrong, it can hurt you or a friend, and that’s what happened to me, though it was unintentional. What I learned from this was this: hitting your friend in the head with a handball is bad, regardless of how accidental it is. I felt so sorry for him, and realities of what was essentially a violent game were apparent. It pains me to know that I made him cry in pain, to know that he didn’t have to suffer. On the other hand, I’ve created many scars for myself falling on concrete while playing, especially on my elbows, my right one in particular. Despite the bleeding and the bruises, what I remember the most was the fun, the fun of avoiding danger and the fun of distributing fear, however violent it was. The challenge of a reach, the thrill of dodging, the power of pegging, it was blissful entertainment and innocent fun, until it all goes wrong.

You are short, they say, though a bit more condescendingly and often with less clarity in meaning. I took it in and accepted it, to be picked on is not fun but to be ignored could be more painful. Even now I see the harshness of children in the bodies of teenagers, unaware of the brutality of their statements yet sure of their meaning. To say that words will never hurt you is naive, but to say that words of hate are destructive is just as ignorant. It is the victim that controls the interpretation; it is the prey that the predator chases. But to look back and not see friends but enemies, to build a shield around who you are then to paint a facade to be who you are not, is to be broken into what you are seen to be. Many say that it is, in essence, hate in disguise, but they are not victims but complicit spectators, not perpetrators but spiteful onlookers. The dynamic of conformism is necessary not to continue the emulation but to drive a diversity not only in people themselves but in experiences, and that, I understand, because your enemies of past are your close friends of now.

When I once feverously played games, it was not because they were fun as much as they were comforting, because I was able to start anew, to establish myself and to be accepted. Becoming respected was a prime objective, and to become respected only required time and effort not a confrontation with the past and those who I did not know. At the same time, I could befriend others by simply playing at all, making relationships much easier and the purpose much clearer, with rules set in stone and the competition confined to a simpler, understood world. Games were more than an escape from reality, they took fun and gave it a solid, tangible definition which I could grasp on to and understand, because enjoying a time with someone else requires a commonality, and the commonality was achievement within a game.

Remember suicide? remember how hard it was? It was sixth grade, after I had moved from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to New Hyde Park, Nassau County, and it was hard losing all I had yet having all the stress of trying to make friends and working hard to do well in school. I made it to Mark Twain Middle School before I moved here, and in a way, I had lost what I worked for. I wanted to die partly because of the stresses of school and the stresses of adjusting, and back then I cried a lot. There was this girl, Sabrina was her name, and when she left my elementary school to move to Staten Island, she cried so much because she was leaving - or losing - so much. My first crush, in 5th grade, was on Kaitlyn, and I remember writing a Valentine’s Day note for her as part of a project assigned by my teacher - it was black ink on red construction paper. I was afraid, paralleling my awe of girls now, I tried to copy the handwriting of a fellow student, Raymond, and I don’t think it was successful, and I ended up embarrassed and more confused about girls.

Now I’m working my way back, back from the land of not outcasts but the scared, those afraid of losing their altitude they put so much effort climbing to from the deep hole they had feel into. It is to be forgotten not to be lost but to be unknown, to be satisfied with where you are because it is not where you were. Not unknown physically, but unknown mentally, misunderstood and misinterpreted, reveling in awkwardness because to be a hermit is to not be dead, to be cold is to not be soft. The question that comes up would be - who am I? There was a point where the answer would be - I am not your friend, there was a point where I was quiet because to be quiet was to not draw attention, attention that brings the pain of rejection, the pain of not reaching the expectations set by others.

One thing I know from what I’ve gone through is that at least some shy kids - the not anti-social ones - are shy because what they’ve gone through, and to say that you’re nice yet you ignore them is doing an injustice to yourself and your peers, because it could’ve been you or your friend that made them that way, and to say that one person is less than another, or one person less capable than other, is to hurt yourself more than it hurts that one person. It is so much easier to respond than it is to initiate - a friend is someone that helps you in need not a stranger that claims to be nice when gravitating to someone crying for help.

I’ve always wondered how I’ve gotten as far as I have without doing the typical rebellious or cool things, like alcohol or drugs. A lot of it has been my own anxiety towards doing such things, and the rest has to do with the kind of people I was with - a game addiction for a drug addiction - it’s different yet the same - a senseless dependency. I wonder what many others would do if they went through what I have, though I suspect much of it has to do with my personality as much as it has to do with my experiences, but what I am not looking for is someone who feels pity for what I have gone through - the past has gone and the future is waiting, and I only know how it is to weather the cycles alone.

What I see in many is this lack of motivation, and I want to instill that in others, because I would have to say that the only thing that keeps one moving on and not ending it all is not a desire to live but a desire to do. It is to look at the road ahead and see a hill to be climbed not a mountain to be dreaded; it is to always try it first before you give up; and it is to give up, keep hope, and move on to attempt something else. Often it is satisfaction in the little things that leads one into completing a greater goal, as no large goal is done steadily as even progress has cycles. What I have missed for all these years is not goals or passion or some superficial respect of ability, but a person who I am comfortable with. My desire is for someone who will listen, because I care not for myself but for everyone I know, and though they may not know their own faults and capabilities, though they may have travelled a different road, I set myself down not as the wise elder but as a friend who understands, as it is my wish to be understood.