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Authors: Emilio Cecconi

vicarious.ly

BOOK: vicarious.ly
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vicarious.ly

A work of fiction

By Emilio Cecconi

Note from the author: if you have any questions, feedback, or comments please visit
http://goo.gl/WXwzi
and fill out a form. Feedback may be kept anonymous. If you would like a response to your question I will provide it in a timely fashion.

Entries:

vicarious.ly – November 2012

Kyla – March 2007

Roles – November 2012

Philology

Michelle - November 2012

The Algorithm

Kyla II – September 2006

Happy Holidays – December 2012

Splashes – January 2013

Eden

Michelle II – February 2013

Remnants – February 2013

Reunion – February 2013

vicarious.ly – November 2013

vicarious.ly – November 2012

My
therapist
life coach told me that I should start blogging about my life. She says it will help me recover or develop a sense of self. So here I am introducing myself to myself. I don’t know where to start. The only place I know where to start is to begin with who I am and what brought me to start talking about my feelings.

My name is Jake and I am a 26 year old going through what I’ve been told is a quarter-life crisis (QLC).

The question “who am I?” has been increasingly harder to answer. Who am I?

Right now, I’m a traveling management consultant based out of Boston. Four years ago I graduated college. Five years ago I was dead set on getting my doctorate in philology, a subfield of linguistics. Six years ago I met Kyla. Seven years ago I published a theory named
Eden
which ignited the philology world. Before that, I was just a kid who couldn’t wait to explore the world and meet new people.

If only I could remember what it felt like to be happy with the few dollars I had in my pocket given to me from my
adopted
parents when I was a kid. Those were the days the world felt so limitless and full of potential.

Sometimes in order to understand the present you have to understand the past. I’m trying to put together the series of mistakes that I made in life that brought me to the point I am at right now.

Kyla – March 2007

“You’ll never look at me the same way you look at Eden.”

That’s what stands out the most from when Kyla broke up with me. It was March 1, 2007 at the Boston Public Garden. What a scenic and historic place to be broken up in, the country’s first public botanical garden. I have never looked at flowers the same way again. Every time I see one I can’t stop thinking about how one day it will wilt.

Earlier that day I got a text from her saying that we should get away from campus. It was warm enough and the snow had settled. I thought that it would be a good idea to take the T from Harvard Square to downtown Boston. I was pretty excited for the day since it had been a while since I got out of Cambridge. I had been so caught up with coursework and writing conference papers that it felt like a part of my life was just passing me by. While in class I started getting excited about the night and compulsively was checking my phone for Kyla’s response.

She said, “I’d love to go to Boston. Why don’t we go to Back Bay and grab a bite at your favorite used bookstore cafe on Newbury Street?”

That text got me really excited. We met right outside her dorm just as the sun was setting and headed downtown. It was one of those moments when I stopped to look at the sky and just thought that world is so beautiful and filled with so many opportunities.

When we got to the café, it was about a fifteen minute wait to be seated. Kyla and I went through the language and history section. I thought there might be some interesting books I could skim. Nothing really piqued my interest. I did see a copy of
Language in Thought and Action
an overview book on semantics which I thought Kyla would enjoy. I got her a copy as a gift. I told her it was one of the books that motivated my interest in the meaning and use of words.

I don’t really remember what dinner was like. All I remember is eating my bacon macaroni and cheese. I’ve really tried to recall what our conversation was about, but I can’t no matter how much I try. The only thing that I remember her saying was, “why don’t you ever ask me about how I am doing?”

After a light dinner, we walked on over to the Boston Public garden. That’s when I started noticing something was out of the ordinary. Kyla was walking about a step or two further away from me than when she normally did. She also began to be more occupied with looking through the windows of the designer shops on Newbury Street than me or our conversation.

Only a few people were at the park that night. Kyla took a seat on a park bench overlooking the swan boat lagoon. I just was looking at the water waiting for her to say something. She always kind of led our conversations about our feelings.

She said, “You’ll never look at me the way you look at Eden. Even when it’s just me and you, somehow you always find a way for every conversation to go back to her.”

At that time, philology and linguistics professors were regularly calling me and emailing me to discuss Eden. I even got a couple of phone calls while Kyla and I were at dinner. Everything that was happening was a dream come true. Something that I put together in my spare time as an 18 year old in a library got worldwide attention.

“Well it’s not a person. It’s a program that I put on the internet. It’s also the name of the theory that I wrote using that program.”

Strike one. Before she said anything, I already knew Kyla wasn’t impressed with my response. Later on, my friend Michelle told me that I should have asked Kyla about her feelings. She said my response pretty much ignored Kyla’s “social needs.” Women, why don’t they just say what they want without obscuring things? I guess being a master of the history of language doesn’t necessarily make me a master of the meaning of words in a practical sense.

“Don’t you get it? I never feel alone with you unless we're talking about Eden.”

As she looked at me with those piercing green eyes, I saw a single tear go down her face. That moment felt like forever. I saw her begin to close her eyes in slow motion as she was on the verge of another tear. As her eyes were shutting, I knew it would be the last time she would look through me like that.

“Jake, I can’t. This. You. I can’t do this.”

I’ve replayed that moment so many times through my mind trying to understand what was going through her mind. I think it was pain and disappointment.

“Cheer up kiddo. Springs about to be here, summer will come next, and soon enough it will be the fall and you’ll be going abroad to Spain. You’ll be better off without me. It never really would have worked out between us.”

Strike two. Later that night, my roommate Paul told me that was a pathetic way of trying to act nonchalant and cocky. Truth is
, I didn’t know how to react to a breakup. I didn’t really have any words to describe what I was feeling. It didn’t feel real. I started thinking about how every decision I made brought me to where I was standing. I also started thinking about how different my life was about to become. I would have more time for school. But then what about the future I had been daydreaming about? How would that change? I just waited for Kyla to say something.

She said, “Just give me a moment. Then we can take the T back to campus.”

I thought about it. I just wanted to prolong the moment. See if I could do anything to change her mind. Of course I thought I could make her realize how much fun we have together.

“It’s nice enough out that we can take the long walk back to campus. It’s really nice to walk across the river at night.”

That’s an example of too little too late. I put my jacket around her arms and lifted her up off the park bench. We walked to the St. Charles River the whole time not talking about much at all. It was quite the walk back to campus. Kyla spent most of the walk talking about some of the good times we had together. I talked more about how our lives will continue normally and we’d both be fine. We were both right there next to each other separated by the time between events we were talking about. While she was thinking about actual events, I was thinking about the hypothetical.

I dropped her off at her dorm right at the front entrance. What a calm night. A little past midnight as I was walking back to my dorm it started snowing. I walked back into my room and that’s when it hit me. I miss her.

I ended up going back to my dorm room and got drunk as hell and called her up. I had just been listening to the song
Show you How
by the Killers on repeat over and over. It’s a song which starts off as an answering machine message. My roommate told me that I took a guitar and was screaming into my phone singing along to the song playing on my speaker. I thought I was leaving a message on her phone but Kyla ended up being on the other line. I think she stayed on the call for about two minutes, enough to hear my entire rendition of the song.

Strike three. I’ll stop there, as I can name at least a few more strikes that would pretty much ensure that Kyla and I would never be romantically involved again. If only I could have felt something when we were at dinner, or at the garden, or on the river, or while this whole thing was falling apart. What an ending.

A few days later I got an email from Kyla. I assume it was her responding to my phone call from the previous night.

 

Jake,

You’re the kind of person that doesn’t appreciate something unless it’s in the past. I really do hope you find someone who brings you in the moment. I just can’t wait any longer watching you fall in love with things that happened years ago. I don’t want to keep telling myself that someday it will be me.

Kyla

It was the last time we exchanged communication electronically.

Maybe my life would have turned out differently if I hadn’t written the wrong name on the Valentine’s Day flower arrangement I ordered online. I accidentally addressed the box to Eden instead of Kyla. That harmless action made Kyla start questioning everything about me.

Who knows where she is right now. Not a week goes back that I don’t think about that night. I’m not really sure why.

I feel like no matter how much I try to see that my life has changed since that day, many times I can’t. For about a year I ran through that day to see what I could have done differently. After that avenue was exhausted, I thought of how I could avoid an event like that from ever happening again.

Now, I’m just unpleasantly but still pleasantly stuck in the memories of that day. It doesn’t help that I live in Back Bay pretty close to where this night happened. I also eat at that same used book store, stroll through the Public Gardens, and run across the St Charles River frequently whenever I’m not away traveling for my job.

For a while I used to talk to people about how Kyla was still on my mind. I did this until my friend’s wouldn’t really listen to me anymore. So now everything just goes unsaid in my mind. I guess that is until now that I am writing about it.

Roles – November 2012

There was a time that the words
be yourself
actually meant something to me. It was when I had faith in the idea that people have their own identity. I thought identity was something that was unique to each individual. When someone would say a person is
lying to himself
, I would take it to mean that a person’s actions were violating their identity.

In college I would spend nights talking to Paul, my roommate, about existence. We would talk about what we wanted to accomplish in life. If we had free choice over the decisions we made in life. Most of the time we were trying to convince each other that whatever we decided to do had purpose. Those were the days, when we could actually convince ourselves that we were important.

Paul always knew how to put a positive spin on things. He was the kind of person that would wake up each morning and write in his journal, “how can I make the world better today?” He told me that he kept a journal with good things that he did for humanity and the world for rainy days. He said that there was going to be times in life that he would feel like nothing he did matters and he would like to have a journal to help him out of those moods.

“So you’re journal is a kind of time capsule anti-depressant?” I’d say

“Call it whatever you want Jake.”

I thought the guy was crazy for doing that. I actually teased him about it from time to time.

Now I wish I would have done what he did. My memories of the past are distorted to the point of incomprehension. I’ve forgotten almost everything that happened that brought me to where I am right now. I’m trying to piece things together but
its much more difficult than I could have imagined. How did my beliefs change?

“Jake, what do you believe in?” Paul would ask me all the time.

Back then, I believed people are good as long as you look deep down. Nobody wants to do things that are bad. I believed in objective truth. I believed in a lot of things that I don’t remember or feel anymore. I believed in passion, love, unity, all that mushy stuff.

The words: Good, Bad, Identity -- are now pretty much useless to me. I don’t know what they mean anymore. I’m unable to pinpoint when my belief system changed.

Here’s what I believe, my identity is heavily tied to the different roles that I have in life. When I was a student I had responsibilities that meant the world to me. They consumed me and I believed that I existed for the purpose of being a student.

Now life’s a bit different. I’m seeing a different side of the world that
are a bunch of disconnected pieces. In any given week I’m in three cities going to work for different clients. My apartment is in Boston but since I’m rarely there, people have forgotten about my existence. Most nights are spent in impersonal hotel rooms, where I go to impersonal restaurants with impersonal coworkers. I begin and end the week with a bunch of strangers on an airplane.

I’m not part of a community. I’m a visitor to many different communities. All the relationships that I have left in this world are one-on-one. Living life in little pieces has made me realize that the community that you are a part of shapes your world view in ways that are beyond your own control. I see the nuances between people at different country clubs throughout the country. Each person seems like a product of the group of people they spend their time with. It’s called herd mentality. People conform to their surroundings. I’m no different.

The difference with me is that I have to conform to very different surroundings in the course of a normal week. I do management consulting for different companies. I blend in different cities. I blend in when I visit friends from college on the weekends. That’s all I do now, blend. Being unique is overrated.

The only time I don’t blend in is when I’m alone. I just think of the different existences that I have and try to create a narrative that connects them together. The more I travel for work, the less time I spend in Boston, the harder it becomes. The more it seems like I don’t have an identity. There are just a bunch of different roles I perform in society.

Each role that I have comes with a set of explicit and implicit responsibilities. There are certain ways I have to act at work. I act like I used to around my friends that I visit. Every time I see my friends I revert back to the person that they remember.

Who am I when nobody else is around? So where does that leave me when I am by myself? What is my role? What are my responsibilities? I just feel like I’m lost without any direction. It’s strange to think that nobody else can pick up on this feeling. Maybe, except Michelle.

Sometimes I just want something to believe in when nobody else is around and nothing is expected of me.

BOOK: vicarious.ly
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