Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Extrapolating Raindrops To Understand Oceans

Posted on | July 9, 2017 | No Comments

We are walking and talking and laughing and realizing that we aren’t the same sort of people as we take a quick tour of Toronto in a large pack of common friends.

She’s really nice. I listen a little more than I normally do. I ask her a question. Then another question digging deeper. She likes things I don’t. Which is briefly fascinating. She’s smart, kind and knows about stuff I don’t normally have any interest in.

We reach the zenith of our possible connection to each other which happens to be polite conversation.

Toronto is an excellent Darwinian experiment in connection.

Because if you don’t really, really enjoy a stranger you can make zero effort and never see them again for the rest of your life. In fact getting to know someone means violating many well established Toronto rules. You can meet them by swiping right on their picture.  You can meet them at a bar or party when they smile at you and give you permission to do so. But these aren’t really how you get to know someone. You get to know them because you choose to.

We might talk a few more times in our lives but it likely won’t be a choice we actively made.

Very earlier on in our conversation I subconsciously seize on the one thing we have vaguely in common.

She is a fraternal twin. My nieces are fraternal twins.

Ergo I should tell her about the twins.

To show I understand her people.

Talking about loving my nieces is a good social move and also a reflection of a very important truth.

They sort of blow me away.

My sister and her husband love each other deeply. They decided to have kids. Who they in turn love deeply. Their names are Hannah and Avery. Hannah looks like a Cherub out of a classical painting with chubby baby cheeks and a matching angelic smile. She runs head first into things and that often means literally slamming her head into things. Avery is more quiet, and like all children has the occassional health problem. For her it’s a problems with child hood asthma. Which will most likely be something she forgets about when she becomes older but for now can be the object of a great deal of worry.

I remember coming home a few years ago for Christmas and going to the Emergency room to visit Avery.

My sister was patient and funny. Avery got her puffer and the steroids filled her with surges of insane dizzying adrenaline.  She raced around the hospital in her little hospital dress, and devoured her treat, a pink popsicle talking a mile a minute.

. This particular hospital visit was a very low grade emergency. A typical journey they’ve taken a dozen times.Like all children, ocassionally they’ll get sick and the level of fear will multiply. My sister will handle it. As all parents do. Quietly, keeping their fear mostly to themselves.

This was my first journey like this. I wasn’t scared. I just noticed how when Avery grabbed my hand I would feel it in my chest. Stopping to go for a walk with her as she explained the world as pink Popsicle drool dripped down her lips and I’d feel this feeling of love like a prayer. Like don’t let anything bad ever happen to her.   I’ve seen her just a couple times. I do backwards math. If this is what a raindrop falls like as it hits me, I tried to calculate what the ocean must feel like.

I try imagine what Emily feels when she looks at Avery in her little hospital gown. When she has to maintain a game face when things are scaring her and how she somehow blossomed into this full grown, compassionate adult human who occassionally calls me Michael instead of brat.

Only this isn’t what I have been thinking about lately. Or rather I’ve been thinking of what it must be like for Hannah when Avery gets sick.

I remember how Hannah likes to have all of her toys perfectly organized. She says that when her toys are in good working order her head feels clean.

She’s in the vicinity of four years old.

She has no problem breaking out in song and performing a dance routine from Frozen in front of absolute strangers. She likes to dangle upside down. She has learned how to climb humans as though they were a staircase.

She loves to open her arms and run at her sister.  Excited about a hug. They’re extremely close and hug at every possible opportunity.

Hannah is also aware that her sister sometimes has problems with asthma.

I don’t know what she feels exactly. I just know that she has a much smaller world that she can control. Which is ultimately those toys she has in her basement. That need to be perfectly ordered. So that her brain feels clean. I think about how much the two little girls care about eachother. How much they laugh when they’re together. And what it might feel like to love her sister that much. With a heart that is completely inexperienced. That has no concept of scale or time or how things change, break and come back together again. There is only a desire to keep the world ordered in a way adults feel and have learned to ignore. There is only an intimate knowledge that her sister and her parents and her grandparents are her world. And she wants to keep things organized. So they’re protected.

There are few people you met and instantly know there are yours. That these are people you’ll fight for. That their struggles through life will also be yours. That you won’t care that they don’t like the same things you do. You’ll love them anyway.

I think about mentioning all of this to my new friend. Who is also a twin.

I think about asking her how much she loves her sister.

I stop myself because I understand that might sound creepy. People are weird about twins in about a hundred ways I don’t want to participate in.

I ramble a bit about how much I love Hannah and Avery.

She nods her head. Probably imagining that I’m doing what people do in their tinder profiles when they post pictures of children that aren’t their own. And she’d be sort of right.

She asks a few questions.

Smiling. Playing the get to know you game.

As we experiment with getting to know eachother.

Analysing our first impressions.

Doing those calculations we all do.

As we try to add human behaviours together to decide whether this will be one of our people. If we can let go enough to let them really get to know us or if we’ll just fill out the survey questions.

It occurs to me that a lot of our people are nervous talking to strangers. Maybe they play it safe. Maybe it takes them awhile to really warm up to someone. Maybe fifty conversations in you discover that person actually was destined to be your bestfriend. Maybe it isn’t who someone is but where they are when you need them. Maybe the whole fucking thing is trying to extrapolate raindrops to understand oceans.

You go from the smallest bit of evidence and you make a decision every time you meet a stranger.

Will I get to know this person?

Maybe if given the proper chance a person who doesn’t like the same things you do can be one of your people.

Only as you get older there are less and less chances to get close to people who don’t immediately fit. Because circumstances aren’t going to force you to get to know eachother. We rarely talk to strangers. We are almost never forced to have 50 conversations with anyone.

You have to make a decision.

I do.

Maybe I’m missing out.

I doubt I’ll ever know.

 

 

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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