got lost

I wuz a-surfin this morning when I should have been a-workin and I found a story on The Civilians, a documentary theatre troupe that stitches together plays from interviews with regular folk about subjects serious and trivial. Their latest show is about lost things. Apparently they'd approached people and asked them to name one thing they'd lost. The answers ranged from the mundane (socks) to the tragic (love, loved ones, faith etc).

So what's the thing you've lost that you can't let go of? It can be anything, from an object to a memory to a vast metaphysical conceit. I lost my sense of adolescent entitlement in my early twenties. That one hurt: I remember the moment that the blind confidence that had propelled me through the decade suddenly crumbled. I was walking in a 7-Eleven parking lot. A car full of grade-A assholes pulled into the lot and started shouting insults at me. I was walking across their chosen parking spot.

They didn't even really give a shit. I happened to be in the wrong spot, so they decided to throw out a few insults and wait for me to keep moving. I was no different from anyone else who could have been standing there at that moment; my body just held a place, and it was just a body. My mind, my personality, the entire history that I carried around with me and held out in front of me, meant bupkus to the shitheads in the car. It meant bupkus to the shitheads inside the 7-Eleven. At that moment I perceived an entire planet full of shitheads who didn't give a rat's ass about me. I had to shed a huge part of myself at that moment, unbuckle it and let it drop. And I had to keep walking before the shitheads in the car shouted at me again.

Understand that I'd been shouted at before by people in cars. Cars had stopped suddenly and disgorged three or four guys looking to fight (usually my cue to wave and run). But I grew up in a small town, where the guys in cars were either people I knew or readily identifiable strangers from some town a half-hour away, bored teenagers trawling strange streets. It was a comfortable, nicely circumscribed universe, even if violence circled its curves now and again.

When I left that town at eighteen I took that universe with me. Four years later it fell off me in a parking lot and I've never gotten it back.

Nowadays, when I encounter a car full of jerks, I give them the finger and keep moving.