Having a birthday in a few weeks. Turning thirty.
Birthdays aren’t just ‘birthdays’, of course. Not for adults. They are corrosive mental ordeals; brutal philosophical examinations of the self, annual opportunities for taking inventory of all the time you waste on menial but terribly taxing tasks like standing in line at the post office collecting parcels containing things you don’t remember buying on eBay probably because you make many of your purchases in the dark pre-dawn gloom during dark nights of the soul of which there are evidently many.
This turning thirty business is a bitch any way you look at it. Collapsed youth and raw adult reality collide. A mess is made, a silent soul-stink that rises.
I feel like a vacant block that’s been burned and left empty. I feel like Cameron Frye.
Here’s something that’s never really made very clear: there is a lot of maintenance work involved with mental health, a lot of up-keep. There’s no end point. It’s ongoing, eternal. It can be overwhelming. Insight is encouraged. You are supposed to closely monitor the way you feel, keeping on top of mood changes and paying close attention to fluctuations and such. This can be difficult if part of your problem is that you don’t much like to feel things, and what you do feel is based on control and denial.
It can also be exhausting, boring, tedious, circular. You get a grip, but then you have to maintain.
And you don’t want to talk to anyone about it because you know it will only unnerve them and make you feel even more misunderstood and awkward and neither of these outcomes hold any appeal whatsoever so you say “Oh, I’m alright, I’m okay” and hope you’re holding the soul-stink down. And hope that you don’t have to hear people’s voices shrink and go small with sympathy.
Cameron Frye understood this. It is why he wanted to remain in bed. He was lying in bed on his back genuinely mourning the fact that he was not dead.
Even when Ferris got Cameron out of bed and into the streets and he relaxed some and appeared to enjoy the fact that he was not dead it was clear that his emotional constitution and complex, fragile psyche may have been altogether too delicate to withstand the rigours and ravages of life beyond high school graduation.
He was a teenager but he already reeked of oblivion.
My favourite scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
Ferris: “I’m so disappointed in Cameron! Twenty bucks says he’s in his car right now debating on whether or not to go out.”Cameron: [Cameron is in his car] “He’ll keep calling me; he’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty. This is uh…This is ridiculous, ok I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go. I’ll go. What – I’LL GO. Shit.” [Turns the engine on then turns it off and hits the passenger seat.]Cameron: “God Damnit!” [Turns the car on and revs it up.]Cameron: “Ahhhhhhh! Shit!” [Gets out of the car.]Cameron: “That’s it!” [Paces behind the car and jumps up and down in frustration.]
I like it ‘cos it’s me most days.
Phillip K Dick was this tweaked out science fiction author who wrote the stories that Blade Runner and Total Recall were based on and lived an astonishing ramshackle life and claimed, among other things (‘other things’ being that he was alive and everyone else was dead) that his car would only run between home and his psychiatrist’s office. Take it anywhere else, he said, and it would steer itself right into an accident.
Cameron: [Intoning] “When Cameron was in Egypt land LET MY CAMERON GO”.