I'll sing you anything
I would swing from anything
I would give you everything
To not leave you hanging half remaining
Empathy - the ability to experience vicariously the same emotions that someone else is experiencing
About two weeks ago my friend, the girl that inspires me, lost her brother to a motorcycle accident. When I first heard the news of the accident, everyone asked if I talked to her yet. I shrugged it off. Apathy: my defense mechanism, because some time ago, it was made clear that I was never able to be the man she'd come to at the end of the day. So I kept her as far away from me as I could. Afterall, I figured he was just in the hospital. "Just" in the hospital. As if that alone was not enough for me to come out and be there for a friend. I answered to my friends, "Don't ask me how she's doing. I'm just not that guy." And then I found out: he was not "just in the hospital", he died. And then all of a sudden, I felt my body shake, as if there was something I could've done to stop this, to stop him from dying. That night, I lay on the hood of my car in the rain and I cried. To someone just walking by, who could tell the difference between rain drops and tears? But I cried. I cried for everything she was going through. The loss. the pain. The REALITY that someone you come home to is not going to be there anymore.
I never met the guy. But I know and loved her, and I cried.
Tonight, I'm reading her posts. There's this picture. It's during our graduation. She's got her diploma in one hand wearing her graduation gown and a smile with eyes to match. She's piggy-backing on her brother and she's happy. Their happy. And now, he's gone. And it kills me inside and out.
Throughout college, I lost someone every single year. Freshmen year, my uncle died. Sophomore year, my cousin disappeared and my aunt died. Junior year, my grandma died. Summer after senior year, my friend of liver cancer. This past year, my cousin died. Crazy, isn't it?
But losing a brother? That's something different.
I have a brother, and the reason why I took on this superhero thing is because of him. The nightmares of me losing him would kill me. I wanted to become stronger for him. To protect him. To protect all the brothers out there. But being the hero is not why I'm feeling all of this. It's not. Is it?
Under this mask, this suit, is a guy whose heart is beating for someone else. But because of my past, I'm too scared to do anything. I'm too scared to do the right thing. But I guess that makes the right thing so much bolder.
She won't read this. She probably will never know how much I feel with her. And I know I won't be the that hero. But I really don't care, just as long as someone does- odds are it will be herself.
She is a strong person, probably one of the strongest I've ever known and I believe she'll pull through with a fiercer love and passion than anyone ever could. Why? Because she's that kind of girl. The girl that's meant to be happy. With a smile like that, you know she's meant to be happy.
I've been missing in action so long; in not just her life but everybody's, and I don't feel like I should be there. I want to, but who am I really? I can't help feeling that "I'm just not that guy."
But maybe- just maybe, I am.
Before I left campus, I visited one of my favorite places to just sit and think, this closed fountain outside the Earth Space and Science building. When I first got into the university five years ago, the fountain was still in working order, but not anymore. Today I sat there, and thought about all the things that happened the since I was that 17 year-old freshmen. I thought about my past. My past memories. My past ambitions. My past love-life. But most of all I thought about the past me and realized how just much I have changed. When I was a freshmen, I was an as off-the-wall and animated as one of those Japanese anime characters. I was a hopeful impassioned kid. I've come a long way from that boy who would leap onto table-tops with a smile that brimmed from ear-to-ear.
Or have I? Ok, I'm not exactly jumping all over the place, but the same passion comes back into me. I've always been the type of person that wears their heart on their sleeves. The only thing that has changed is that my sleeves got longer and I hid somethings inside, but that passion, that fierce raw emotion is still there, clawing to get out. Is this really growing up? Sometimes in the quiet of night on some lone rooftop, I feel that I'm still the 4 year-old boy clinging onto his father's leg on his first day of pre-school. The future unknown... and scary.
And then I thought that there comes a time in our lives when we must put away the things of childhood, and step forward boldly as a man. Sometimes there are situations when we are forced to step up. But there is a point in our lives when we choose to. And I think that not until this summer, I've put myself into situations when I had to step up as man. Today, as I sat at the fountain steps and drifting between thoughts of what has come and gone and what is to come, I made a choice. I chose to finally become the man I dreamed I would become ever since I first tied a blanket around my neck and played the hero. I am at a point in my life where I choose to be the hero.
As I left my little "fountain of solitude", I began to take responsibility for all the things I have done. The good and not so good. The courageous and the foolish. My friend once said that people don't change, they only become who they were meant to be all along. Tonight, I'm looking the past me in the eye and showing myself: I'm a 22 year-old part-time student; searching for a job and soon moonlighting EMT classes; still struggling to pay off bills; still in love with the same girl since the day I met her. And if I myself am not okay with that, then who will be?
Remember those juggling acts you would watch at a magic show or on TV. It starts with something simple, like juggling a ball. And then they add more balls. But then they kick it up a notch and start juggling something dangerous, like knives. And you know that if you play with knives, you get cut.
Me? I'm juggling.
I'm juggling lives. Besides the crime-fighting I do in my off-time (there never really is an "off-time" for us heroes), there is my real life. My family and good friends, who it would be painful too imagine my life without. But even here in real life, as "safe" as you think it is, you will find that there are these little edges that if you're not careful, you can get cut. This is where juggling gets dangerous. This is where I get cut.
Saturday, I was supposed to see this off-broadway play called "The Average Asian". My best friend was raving about it and I promised the guy I'd catch it with him. Unfortunately, as I'm waiting for the bus, some dumb young kid and his friends triess to mug this woman behind the park. After taking out that piece of trash, I miss the bus, which makes me miss the ferry. Knowing how plays work, I figured I was not going to make it into the theater. Ushers usually become fun nazis, in order to "maintain the illusion". Give me a break! I felt like crap missing out, and my friends probably think it's just me flaking out again. Disappointed in myself and New York's transit system, I made my way home to spend some time with my parents and brother, since I haven't really spent some good quality time with them in a while. Luckily, it was a quiet night in town, so me and my brother were able to order some pizza and kick back.
Today, the same friend was throwing this barbecue. On top of that, there was this dinner near Chinatown for for my fraternity. This was going to be the last barbecue of the summer before my friends head back to school. And this dinner brings out almost every brother in my chapter; the brothers who crossed when I was still in middle school and the brothers who crossed after me. My fraternity big brother was supposed to be there, and I haven't seen that guy the whole summer. I really wanted to make it out, to BOTH things tonight, but I knew I couldn't. I'd miss out on one or the other. Knowing my luck, I should've known I would miss both. After going to church with my family, I tried to make it out to the dinner, figuring I'd make it out just in time. We ended up going to my uncle's place in New Jersey because my mother was supposed to help out with some wedding plans for my cousin's wedding in October. He has a pool there, and I didn't even bring my shorts. After a little pizza (again), my brother and I just played a little basketball. He actually taught me a couple pointers for shooting, but I'm no 'baller' yet. Finally, I was on my way home... at 8:00PM. There was no way I was going to make it to the dinner in Chinatown now, so by the time I got home, I head out to Bayside, Queens to catch what was left of the barbecue. I called up my friend, and I could tell he was disappointed. By the time I got there, I figured it would be smooth sailing from there. Then some car-jacker almost clipped me as I was crossing the street. If you're going to steal a car, then fine, but at least try not to hit anybody in the process. After issuing a "ticket" in his face, I met up with my best friend. My best friend. Me? I'm far from "best".
A long day. A long weekend with a bundle of disappointed people.
You can think, "Well, at least it was all just plans for fun. They'll survive without you there."
But stack up all these little flaking moments, and what you get is the expectation that I'm not really around. The words "I'll be around" become another empty little clichè.
What kind of friend is never around for the good times, but shows up for the bad times; whose memory is never of the good times, but a nasty reminder of the bad times.
So, here I am alone in my apartment, not around.
Do I feel guilty? No. Guilt is what you feel when you do something bad.
I feel shame. What's the difference? Shame is what you feel when you are something bad.
Did you see that? Are you watching closely?
So, I'm magician. I'm juggler... maybe just a bad one.
I'm a disappearing act. I'm a flake.
I'm an empty little clichè, with cuts.
I thinks it's about time for me re-appear...
Where the hell am I when shit hits the fan for the people I care about?!
At first, I shrugged these questions off- answering to myself that I'm taking care of me. I'm doing what is best for my future and my life.
But what if you feel... shame. Shame because even though you should take care of yourself... you feel it is better for you to take care of others. Shame because you feel that doing the "right thing" in the beginning, is not the right thing in the end.
Something happened. Something very bad happened to one of the people I care about most in this world. And tonight, I lay on the roof of a car, looking up at the pink tinted night skies with the rain falling down on my face... and I cried.
I know what to do, but i don't want to- and I feel like a monster because of that.
"What do you mean?" you ask me. "If you care about her as much as you say you do, then why don't you go out and do something?!" Because I shouldn't. It was made clear to me a long time ago, that the person to be there for her isn't me, and wasn't going to be me... or is it?
Despite what comes to you, despite what you get coming to you in the end, you are supposed to do the right thing. Doing something right is doing something good in and of itself. The Golden Rule says, "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." What is necessary is for you to DO something, what comes afterwards is conditional and is not relevant in an altruistic sense.
First and foremost, we are all called to action.
When news first came out, a lot of people were asking me if I had heard the news, as if there was an expectation for me to do something. Everyone expected something from me, but me.
And I guess it just goes to show what kind of people I have around me. To have high expectations of me, when I would expect less from myself. That faith that people have in you can make you face your fears and act. Act loud. Act strong. Act proud.
Taking care of myself was never my fortè. But sacrifice is.
I guess I am more of a hero than I thought myself to be. Here I go...
-J.R. Fettinger of www.spideykicksbutt.com on "Secret Identity"
Who am I? Are you sure you want to know?
Well, to sum it all up, I guess you can call me one of the "good-guys". A super-hero.
I'm sure you are wondering what powers I have or where i fight crime.
What are my origins? How did I get my powers? And all these little details are fine and dandy to be printed up on some $3.99 book in a comic shop, that's not why I'm writing.
At the end of the day, the super-hero has to sooner or later take-off his mask and be who he was meant to be, not what the world needs him to be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer."
Underneath this mask, I'm just your everyday ordinary guy. Trying to keep a handle on my job. Struggling to pay rent. Chasing after the same girl since God knows when.
I'm the boy next door. I'm the guy you almost walked into on the streets. I'm the guy who felt it was too awkward to try to squeeze into an empty seat next to you on the train and decided to just stand instead. I'm the guy who is always around, but never there when you're looking for him.
So here I am. I'm not a super-hero. Just a guy trying to be a hero... six minutes longer.
This blog is me, with my mask... off.