Trust is a tantalizing word. It hangs in the air when I’m alone in my room at night with nothing but a cellphone. Someone is texting me, happily and without a care, they ask if I want to see a movie on a weekend. Of course I’m not doing anything on a Saturday. My parents will coax me from my room with promises of lunch at Whole Foods before my sister’s violin lesson, and the rest of the time I’ll be playing video games. But when that text comes in to hang, I panic and say that I am busy. I am busy because I ‘have to’ be at my sister’s lesson. A text comes back that says something like: okay maybe next weekend. That fear of awkward silences and desperation to call a parent for a ride home dispels in a moment.
I’ve always been a quiet kid, greatly enjoying my time alone with my thoughts. On Friday’s when I was in fourth grade, the highlight of my day would be coming home to my Nintendo to play Pokémon. When I attempted to invite friends over to my house they were always busy, when I attempted to call their mothers answered and said that they were at the father’s house. My young mind couldn’t comprehend what was happening. What was wrong with my home? We had a TV, I had dinosaur toys in spades. This evasiveness led to the forging of a shield. A shield heavy shield I toiled on for years; a shield that once required two hands to heft. I call the shield apathy. I planted it, and until recent years have attempted to find pleasure in complete emotional isolation.
I found the most comfort in anime and story-driven video games. Things I felt were mature and placed emphasis on character. They were a chance for investment, and a way to become someone I was not.
Art, as cliché as it sounds, has opened my world. Here are people like me, who were inspired by those same video games, watched the same cartoons, and enjoy the same levels of emotional depth. Art is a window to emotion and vulnerability. I found myself taking comfort in others, confiding my loneliness.
Just a few weeks ago two friends invited me to hang out with them on a Saturday afternoon. Ruben and Kevin, they wanted me to be with them, even came to me and asked during lunch at school. So we spent that Saturday rolling on the floor laughing at god knows what on YouTube, driving around town and meeting our mutual friend Cacique for lunch. We sat around in a barroom pizza joint and ordered as much food as we could eat, and pooled money to pay for it. But the laughter, the way everything flowed and felt natural, like I was meant to be there stays with me forever. It was the sound I’d been missing for a very long time.