Two Chairs by a Highway

There is a hollow sadness that haunts me sometimes. I don’t know where it comes from. I suppose it is depression with a different feel, coming up different channels like a more subtle monster without such sharp claws and violent swings, but it is one that makes me cry every time. I hope someone doesn’t see me, just like I used to hope people didn’t see me as drunk as I was, mostly because I don’t know what to say when they ask why.

I had it on the way to my writing class today, and I should have used that feeling to turn around and go home. But I don’t like missing class. Every class is a chance to hear something that might spark my mind into some sort of activity that would give me the feeling of being competent.  Today, because of the more subtle monster, the guy like Churchill’s Black Dog, the result of class was complete deflation of any of the hope I get when I write. I left class with that feel of being a useless hack who is worthy of all of the showers of disdain which I imagine so vividly.

But back to my trip to class, all of the cars on the highway were looking mixed and generic the way they do in this mood. Everything was like a very muddy stream. Then I saw two chairs standing right next to the breakdown lane, right where the furry dry itchy brown grass starts to grow slowly. It looked as if they were dropped out of some old pickup truck, that’s what I imagined, and after they were dropped, some helpful party might have moved them to the side of the road so that they would not interfere with the traffic.

One chair was a white plastic lawn chair, one that is stackable and not so expensive at Wal-Mart. The lawn chair was not damaged  but it looked a bit like it had been in a wreck because of various random dark stripes looking like vicious gashes. It was sitting there on all four and exactly perpendicular, as if it was all wrong that someone was not sitting in it, innocently watching the smooth flow of all of the ugliness of humanity, the stream that is an interstate, dangerous but treated as a plastic-tipped-sword fighting arena.

The other chair was a natural wood chair, perhaps a nice chair for the kitchen or a lower-end dining room chair, but it was deeply wounded and showing the chaos of those wounds with various sharp pieces of wood sticking out, ready to stab any soul looking for something nice, and it was sitting on only three legs as if it were falling over but hanging there in a deep trance, ready to attack.

I thought about the family and how unfair that it had happened to them. How badly did they need these chairs? Were they sitting on the floor at home? Could they afford to replace either or both chairs, and if they could not, what does that mean to them? These questions were pouring through my mind like hobby trains on a shabby plywood platform. I wonder where the gratitude is for the good things in my life. It is hidden and locked away. I feel bitterness for how the unseen family has been treated but no gratitude for all of the good things that flow through my life. Just this raw bitterness, and I rode, trying to be polite and hoping that I would be nice to my classmates when I got there to class, ready to feel subhuman about my talents, skills and abilities.

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  1. #1 by carldagostino on April 3, 2011 - 10:12 am

    Imagery, metaphor, simile. That’s the DNA of a good writer. You
    know how to use them. Sometimes depths of depression bring it out. Many suffers I know still retain a sense of humor. That’s surprising.That you went to class is a valuable tool to resist and overcome the Big D.

    • #2 by Carl on April 4, 2011 - 7:43 am

      Thank you for your comment, Carl. I appreciate your insight.

  2. #3 by Evelyn on April 3, 2011 - 9:07 pm

    Excellent writing on thinking you are not an excellent writer.
    true irony.

    • #4 by Carl on April 4, 2011 - 7:44 am

      I write well when I know my topic? 🙂

  3. #5 by Val Erde on April 12, 2011 - 4:28 am

    You’re the first person I’ve seen in a very long time who can express the experience of depresson so well. I used to feel my depressions as muddy, dull, and I understand the description of cars as generic… and your observations about the chairs and their families….. brilliant. Thank you.

    • #6 by Carl on April 12, 2011 - 7:04 am

      Your comment means a great deal. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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