“I call it viewing from afar, they call it stalking.”
― Troye Sivan
One day I started disappearing…
and I don’t know how to stop it.
It was a day like any other, I woke up and checked my social media; went for a run; showered and then completed my morning ritual with a big bowl of ‘Mini Wheats’. Then as I continued on with my daily routine I casually passed by my mirror which made me stop in my tracks, upon closer inspection I saw the difference; subtle but I saw it; my skin was more pale than usual, no not pale but more clear. Was I getting sick I thought to myself, these days it seems like everyone is catching some virus or another; perhaps this was some illness, I did not feel sick; concerned I decided to call into work and stay home. Convinced I needed bed rest I tread back up the stairs cautiously but half way up I noticed it; stair number 6; it did not creak. My old rigidity house made so many noises as I would walk through it but not more so as stair number 6; it would sound like two cats fighting for the last bit of food; but not this time. I walked up and down several times; even jumping on it but nothing; in fact I realized my old creaky house was more silent than usual. Was I going crazy? Quickly I ran to my scale in the downstairs bathroom and jumped on it; not possible; I weighed less than my miniature poodle. What was happening, I thought to myself.
When I was a kid I was extremely shy; to the point that it would give me panic attacks just by having small interactions with my classmates. It became pernicious eventually leaving me isolated and alone with no friends. I honestly don’t know if being socially handicapped bothered me; I was okay with keeping to myself and reading books, but I guess I gave out some kind of energy of sadness because it was noticed; by my parents.
My mother was a beautiful woman; the type of woman that was always stopped for a quick chat whenever we were out for our weekly errands by random strangers; mostly men. The conversations were for the most part respectful, mostly people asking how her day was going and compliments about how youthful she looked. People always surprised she could be a mother at her age; I found it to be annoying but my mother was enthralled by the attention. Her noticing me beavering away in solitude did not sit right with her and she was determined to set me on a path with a higher social life. I remember the day of her coming into my room while I was reading Bret Easton Ellis’s “less than zero” , she cleared her throat and waited patiently for my eyes to gaze from my book to her. She went on to recount the story of how she met my father; a story that I’ve heard too many times at this point; how she was the most popular girl in school and the day my dad was able to win the championship game which led to their ‘meet cute’. I felt as if my eyes started to roll but with effort I was able to keep them focused on my mother; though this one story did not sway me then; I knew she would be relentless in her quest to get me to be more social. She took me shopping for new clothes; took me to a speech therapist; bought me almost anything my heart desired to keep me happy and ambitious to be more like her.
“Remember to always smile but more importantly, always be willing to listen; most people have a story and they just want someone to hear it”, my mother would tell me.
As I entered high school my demeanor did change and my outlook was somewhat different; I don’t know if was due to the day to day talks with my mother or perhaps this is what happens to all adolescents, regardless I was more ambitious to be more than what I was before. I initiated conversations with people asking them what they did over the summer or what hobbies they enjoyed and I quickly found myself making friends and within a few months I was popular. My once arduous routine in the mornings became more of a prideful one; taking my time and making sure I looked perfect. My once full bookshelf was now full of pictures and other memorabilia of my adventures with my friends; my books tucked away in my closet in some box. Then I created my social media accounts and for some reason people followed me; they would like almost anything I posted. Soon my accounts reached astronomical views and likes; the feeling was enchanting. Coming home everyday from school my mother would look at me and smile; and all I could do is smile back.
My charmed life continued through college; meeting so many new people and experiencing so many new things; new food; new places and documenting them all for my followers to see. One weekend I would be on the beach, the next I would be up in the mountains in some quaint cabin. Looking back on those memories I can’t remember all the details; but looking through my old photos I knew I must of had fun; I was always smiling. As the years passed I finished college and landed myself a nice little cushy office job downtown; though my main passion and source of income was my social media. During this stage of my life I remember thinking I was happy.
As time passed I sort of became numb to the idea of living, everyday was a rinse and repeat from the day prior, my views and followers kept increasing so I knew that I must have been following the right path. I called my mother to get reassurance of my life choices; I just needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job. ‘Face timing’ my mother I quickly came to a realization in the utmost way; I hadn’t visited my parents in years; not even during the holidays since most of the time I would be vacationing. Coming to terms with this epiphany I noticed how much more my mother has aged; still beautiful but noticeably more tired. Wrinkles now presented themselves around her eyes, her skin no longer shined as it once did, maybe it was the quality of the phone call or maybe I was in denial that my mom was getting older. She smiled at the revelation of me calling her and began to ask me a plethora of questions of how my life was going. We must of conversed for hours which only felt like mere minutes to me; I had missed her. As our conversation naturally came to an end she told me something that would echo through out my thoughts in the incoming months,
“its horrible not to be noticed; do whatever you can to stay relevant if not we just tend to fade away”, she said this while sounding defeated.
Months passed and no longer did I feel as if I had a charmed life but a jaded one. I was tired of traveling, I was tired of forcing myself to feel as if I was having fun; to be honest it was exhausting but I had come this far and my followers depended on me. My interests started to span outwards to different subjects even political ones; it felt good to think of other things. I started learning about different subjects researching a variety of topics; I felt like it was time to voice my opinions, after all I do have this platform; why not share my insight to all my viewers. That was a mistake, people didn’t like what I said; I didn’t understand I was just sharing facts that I had learned; why were they so mad? Mean comments came in daily, calling me all sorts of names; I couldn’t comprehend what was happening, I was still the same person why would they treat me this way. I apologized to my followers but it didn’t stop what would happen next; my subscribers started to disappear. Every day the numbers dropped as if I was witnessing a stock market crash, I was left befuddled but more so devastated.
All this happened a few weeks ago; my social media accounts have dwindled away to almost nothing, I haven’t posted anything in a few days; I figured why bother. Now I am disappearing and I don’t know how to stop it, my mothers words keep reverberating in my head about fading away. I feel defeated, I decided to give in to this force and let it happen; there is no fight left in me and with that I collapse to the floor. There I notice something under my bed, its a box; one that looks familiar. With all the strength I have left I pull the box out; its my books from when I was a kid. I chuckle to myself as I pull out one of the books and look at the cover, Bret Easton Ellis’s “less than zero”; one of my favorites. I crack open to the first chapter and start reading and then I feel it; the immense sensation of relief; its almost euphoric. As I dive into the story I feel as if i am getting stronger but more importantly I feel comfort, yes I feel familiarity; as if I was awakening from hibernation and I smile.
Thanks for reading
(copyright Adan Mendez, all rights reserved)