Part Ten: Why Did You Decide to Move to Argentina?
I just can’t face this story in a linear way anymore. The dread of trying to put it all in order paralyzes me. So many things happened, many of them were mortifying at the time. All I can do is bounce from one to another, try to put them out plainly, but the time escapes me. There is no sense of chronology.
It is cold and dry. Out on the quad in front of the Humanities Building, I shiver in my leather jacket. On the back, in pink, are painted the words, “Are you hung up?” My ass is on the cold ledge of concrete everyone uses as a bench, absorbing the iciness through my jeans. I smoke cigarette after cigarette before my psychology class.
Across from me on the mirror of the ledge I’m sitting on, facing me, are three kids. They’re laughing. I hear some words when they raise their voices. “…crazy bitch…in front of everyone…”
One of the other guys laughs. They are skinny, unshaven, look like hackey sackers with pointy elbows, their adolescence still in full swing, their voices not quite over cracking. They move closer together and talk conspiratorially and my heart beats faster. I stare fixedly at them as they burst into laugher, leaning away from each other to spare their ears.
“I can fucking hear what you’re saying. I know you’re fucking making fun of me!” I yell it across the quad at them, near tears.
“Hey,” says one guy, loudly but his voice full of tenderness, “we weren’t talking about you. I swear.”
Even from this distance, I can feel his sincerity and how wrong I was, and even though before I was so acutely humiliated I felt I had no choice but to defend myself, now I feel remorseful, brutish and crazy. I say, “OK. OK.” I hang my head and silently hate myself. Fucking idiot. Mother fucking crazy mother fucking idiot. I drop my cigarette on the ground, swing my backpack over my shoulder and pull the heavy door to the building open and go in to class. The heat is a wall I walk into.
The class is set up like a small auditorium except the floor is not at an incline. The professor is an animated guy who wears pinstriped shirts and writes the main points on a transparency projector. The material is difficult — there are so many classifications for crazy people and it’s hard to keep them all separate, to differentiate between clear-cut symptoms of one condition and another, one type or another. My butt starts to warm up in the molded plastic. I fiddle with the metal spiral of my notebook on the fold-out desk. Something about these chair-desk units is like a highchair.
He is at the front of the dim room and the class is filling up with sober faced kids who listen quietly in the dimness. I don’t know if any of them heard the outburst outside and I try not to look at them, but people leaning together in conversation catch my eye and I fixate on them, try to hear what they say.
Class starts and I listen in the gloomy room to known symptoms of psychological disorders.