The Dispossessed Person

Lost in the footnotes

By:

The dispossessed person found herself on the Floor of her university residence being liked by a sum total of zero people. Always having had friends, this initially struck her as some soon-to-be-rectified anomaly. She had always considered herself blessed with a natural charm. Warm, effervescent, likable—each of these adjectives had been employed at one time or another in descriptions of the dispossessed person.

She was not disliked. It was rather that no one took any kind of active interest in her. The wobbly-kneed entreaties of the dispossessed person were met with a confused silence far worse than disdain during the crucial first few days of residence life. She did not dare make callous reference to the victims of the recent national tragedy in the ironic fashion that her hometown friends adored her for. Maybe she was less savvy w/r/t current irony-sincerity matrixes than the cosmopolitan kids on her Floor[1], or her clothes weren’t quite right, or something; she didn’t know. Maybe she simply missed home and projected a childlike vulnerability that did not jibe with the struggle toward confident adulthood her fellow first-years were covertly yet whole-heartedly engaged in.

During that first semester she would call the old friends she had recently parted with after the best summer of their lives[2] in the dispossessed person’s small, geographically isolated hometown. At first they shared long, heartfelt conversations and jokey catchphrases that nearly brought tears to their eyes (i.e., to both the eyes of the dispossessed person and to the eyes of her old friends) and vows of sticking together forever and claims that no one would ever replace the dispossessed person in the hearts of the dispossessed person’s hometown friends and vice versa. But as time passed the dispossessed person became increasingly unnecessary to those friends as they made large numbers of new friends with more relevant catchphrases and charms more applicable to their current lives (i.e., to the current lives of her old friends). Now, very specifically, they were no longer really her friends, in that she could not communicate with them. Or when she did try to communicate with them it seemed to the dispossessed person like a desperate plea to rekindle what was lost and could not be rekindled.

On the rare occasion she would drink or engage socially with the people on her Floor, strictly from wall floral, just a vaguely-realized member of the crowd, she would become maudlin and try to talk about her former friends, insisting she’d been part of some immense, non-conveyable greatness. Sometimes others would claim their own past lives were imbued with an equal greatness, if not an even more distinguished greatness that was a cut above the recent past of the dispossessed person. But mostly she was politely ignored, because her Floor-mates had heard her pathetic spiel before.

And so in frustration the dispossessed person would retreat to her room and telephone former friends late in the night and some would answer the phone groggy and say, “What, who is this? Call me back tomorrow.” But by the next day she would feel ashamed and not want to call them back so she would cry alone in her room and get desperate enough to make yet another effort with the new people on her Floor in the common lounge, but there was a very clear indication that her Floormates most certainly did not get her in the least and did not want her particular latticework of irony applied to the reality television they were trying to enjoy non-ironically and so she would try to message one of the old, and truly good friends on web messenger and sometimes they wouldn’t answer or they would answer only in brief, which became unbearable to the dispossessed person as she sat desperately in front of her computer hoping for some affirmation that things would be fine if only she could see her friends in person again.

Then came the various holiday breaks, into which the dispossessed person had put a disturbing amount of thought into friendship-affirming activities involving her hometown friends. But undermining this effort was the stark reality that they (i.e., the former friends) had, even within the limited hometown population, formed new connections with previous non-friends attending the same schools as the dispossessed person’s former friends. In short, new social groups had evolved. There should have been room for the dispossessed person within these groups, but it was like she gave off some kind of subliminal stink now, or that she, like an adolescent William S. Burroughs before her, now gave the impression of a sheep-killing dog. Her need was pervasive and ever apparent, causing her former friends to recoil in unspoken horror. The dispossessed person was convinced that when they spoke of her they said things like, “She’s gotten weird now.” And “What happened to her anyway?”

As time passed her parents would telephone to ask what Friend A or Friend B was up to, and years later, whether she (i.e., the dispossessed person) had been invited to Friend A’s wedding or the baptism of Friend B’s child, which the dispossessed person’s parents had read of in their geographically isolated community’s four-page newspaper. When the dispossessed person only mumbled a sad reply in the negative, still not having made new friends all these years later, her parents said, “Whatever happened with you guys? You used to be such good friends.” Since this was the lone question that tormented the dispossessed person’s nights and the dispossessed person’s days she found it extremely galling that her parents would pose this question in their typically oblivious fashion.

Nearly every night she dreamt of her former friends, which caused her to wake up each day with an immense sadness. In the dreams she’d be playing Mario Kart, emotionally sharing under the rolling thunder, or mocking a recent national tragedy with the former friends, but it always led to the inevitable conflict of her having “gotten weird.”

If dreams were merely a representation of parallel realities in something she’d heard referred to as the multiverse, then the dispossessed person still seemed to be for-real friends with her former friends in every single other alternate reality. She was given over to occult and pseudoscientific[3] thinking of this nature and began to believe this was the root cause of her feeling of dispossession, that somehow this existence was an anomaly, that something had gone awry.

At her place of work, the dispossessed person was standoffish and spent most of her time chatting on online message boards that promoted astral travel to other dimensions. Slight connection with fellow posters, those smiley faces that would respond to her occasional witticism[4] were more or less all she had left of any kind of friendship.

Some nights, maybe three in the average week, she would drink half a bottle of wine and at first she would remember the early-period happiest times[5] and then the mid-period happiest times, and then the heartbreaking final summer[6] happiest times spent with her former friends, but these thoughts always spiraled into a deep despair that led her to look at the Facebook photos of her old friends and their babies in baptismal gowns. She would see groups of the old friends together, and some new girls, interlopers was how she thought of them (i.e., the new girls), even now that they had been friends with the dispossessed person’s former friends longer than the dispossessed person herself had even been friends with them, and she (i.e., the dispossessed person) realized that the way she was living was a sick way to live.

With each passing year she increasingly dreaded her birthday because on your birthday it is customary for everyone who has ever said a passing word to you to acknowledge your birthday on your Facebook profile with a friendly greeting. Her greeting numbers dwindled each year, but most of her core former friend group remained loyal in at least this perfunctory regard, although their messages were very basic and to-the-point, barely extending beyond the monosyllabic with “Happy Beeds!” and other niggardly, toss-off comments, all while she saw the same former friends posting long and involved birthday messages prefaced with “I can’t wait till tonight it’s going to be wild….” on the walls of the interlopers when it was one of their (i.e., one of the interlopers’) birthdays.

And so it came to be that the dispossessed person joined a nunnery, not for the companionship of the sisterhood, nor even as a result of devout faith[7], but simply to withdraw from society. It would reinforce the former friends’ assumptions that she had indeed gotten weird, and so the dispossessed person hoped they would forget about her altogether and the dispossessed person would not have to worry about Facebook Beeds messages or nightly dreams or the disproportionate happiness from friendship and the correlating warmth of FB public wall postings bestowed on the interlopers, whom she, in spite of her better instincts, had come to hate.

And but so it also happened that the sisters in the convent sensed the sort of sheep-killing dog elements of the dispossessed person’s persona until she began to feel that in their sisterly way they were distancing themselves from her emotionally as much as sisters in a convent could distance themselves emotionally from another sister in the convent (i.e., in this case, the dispossessed person).

****

[1] Searching for friends outside the encompassment of her designated Floor never occurred to her (or to others on the Floor for that matter).

[2] That summer’s appeal consisted of: weekend water-skiing; many nicknames; all-night Mario Kart tourneys; beach tanning; rolling thunder over the lake; board games; sugary alcoholic drinks; romances; rumoured romances; reality television watched both ironically and non-ironically; laughing till tears, in tents; off-colour jokes like: “I’ll fuck the grave of each victim of the most recent mass murder/national tragedy”; heartfelt sharing sessions; the “three secrets” finally revealed (A); nervous (reality-television informed) anticipations of their futures; bonfires; waitressing at the Country Club with her two absolute best friends; expensive adult-style caffeinated drinks; kisses finally exchanged between long-time male/female (and in one case female/female) friends now that the conclusion of their shared experience grew terrifyingly near; and a correlating sense of something ending and a (reality television/romantic comedy/sitcom-informed) sense of a fast-approaching total new beginning.

(A)   For years this dweeb guy had held the attention of the dispossessed person and her two best friends in their homeroom class with grave and persistent advertisement of his “three secrets.” Secrets he would not possibly share, though the lone joy in his oft-tormented high school existence came from entertaining their many insulting guesses as to what the three secrets might be. In late August of what would come to be known to the dispossessed person as “the final summer,” confident his future exposure to them would be reduced in the extreme, he finally revealed that, (1) He had one lazy eye (which he’d kept secret out of bizarre fear that someone would cover his good eye, rendering him temporarily blind) and that, (2) His supposed father was actually his stepfather, and that (3) He practised meditation on a daily basis—but given the dire tone with which he’d long promoted these secrets it seemed hilarious to “her girls” that the three secrets ended up being so minor-league in nature, with the possible exception of the lazy eye, so they burst out laughing, particularly at meditation, but after seeing the hurt in his eyes, they reassured him that they were only laughing because these secrets were no big deal; which was typical, as none of her old friends had malevolent or cynical natures, really. (A1)

(A1) Their national-tragedy/grave-defilation humour was more a response to undue national hysteria as they then perceived it.

[3]The science itself was cutting edge and fairly valid, but her understanding of it was superficial, hence pseudoscientific.

[4] Regarding a recent finding of Michio Kaku or a CERN-related anecdote from one of the other leading authorities she devoutly listened to on multiverse-themed late night radio programs each night. She had learned to fall asleep to these broadcasts, lest despair spirals involving earliest/mid-period/final summer happiest times keep her up late into the night chewing her nails.

[5] Including but not limited to: High school dance preparations, the first cryptic references to the three secrets, initial drug/drinking experiments & c.

[6][See Note 2]

[7]Although she was starting to think there was something to this multiverse concept.

 

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