The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 10

Chapter 10

I didn’t awake until 9:40, well after my parents had awaken.  I’m sure my substance consumption from the night before played a part.  I still had no problem repeating it.  I popped and snorted the last of the pills and smoked at least a gram of the dope and a bit of hash.  I was still high not only on dope, but joy and hope.  I felt invincible, like I could do almost anything, like anything was possible.  I felt I could run any course, fight any foe, and over come any obstacle.  Hell, the feeling doubled when I packed my Rolling Stone, just the sight of Obama on that paper filled my hopes to wondrous ends.  Maybe the country has hope, if we can finally overcome our invisible racial barriers and elect a president based on policy rather that rumor, then almost anything was possible.  If it was possible for me to commit assault and battery, and not only get away with it but find out I was giving a bastard his medicine, I knew just about anything else was possible.  If I could get away with being high on opium at a Christian summer camp, I could do anything.  Hell, I could even talk to her.  I wasn’t expecting her to just come running into my arms, but I was finally ready to at least have a conversation with her outside the class room.  

After I was done packing inspiration struck and I wrote this essay. 



Life is cruel and confusing, especially when you’re a teenager.  And it’s even more difficult when your one of an entire generation with no identity, no empathy, or sense of understanding.  This is the ultimate burden of our generation.  We are completely and totally blank, and we have every right to be that way.


What could warp an entire generation to such record extent? You might ask.  Well, letslook at the facts, we are a generation that grew up with a corrupt mush mouth as president, and we live with an economy that hasn’t seen such hell since the 1930’s.  Plus we witnessed the turn of the millennium, yet we are not what the future was supposed to be.  By now we were promised space station hotels, flying cars, and free energy, but we are the generation of drivers paying four dollars a gallon for gas.  That’s extortion compared to the prices our parents paid when they started driving.  Plus our country hasn’t been in so much turmoil since Vietnam.  The point is very simple, our generation got screwed over and now we are completely warped.   The bar was set to high for us, so we simply stopped caring.  


But who wouldn’t?  If you hate your president and can’t even get a part time job it would make sense if you become apathetic.  Though it is true some of our generation is still loyal to our ex president, the majority has made it clear that he did not do a very good job.  When you grow up with a president like Bush, you just grow up to believe all politicians are evil.  The economy shattered, and he gave the jerks that made the mess a bailout with our money. It was the rich helping the rich.  We couldn’t believe it, the rich would help each other but no one would help us.  We understood how this country worked, and we had learned from history that there really isn’t any point to fighting back.  What can you do when your president is stealing your country and culture while the War humiliates it, and the economy destroys it?  What could possibly relieve such pain?  Only one thing, party.  

We have nothing left to do; the evangelists are always saying the apocalypse is around the corner, so we might as well have a good time on our way out.  We don’t need to label our generation anything.   We are just a big group of party animals who really understand the end of the world isn’t coming, but it’s already happened.  So there is nothing left to do but roll a blunt, and open a tall can.  But then, a miracle happened, something got us to care.

Is our generation still blank and desperate for identity? Yes.  Do we still hesitate to trust politicians?  Yes.  And do we still feel our time would be better spent whooping it up with a joint and a beer bong by the river?  Of course, but every generation feels that way.  But ours is different.  We don’t just sit and complain any more.  We are on the verge of something huge, something different.  WE made change happen in this country.  The youth are taking a position of power not seen since the sixties.  We are on the verge of total take over by the youth that would make Woodstock blush.  We deliver on our promises, and when we say we moved beyond race we actually mean it.

You could call us anything, the new hippies, or beatniks, or any other unnecessary label.  We don’t need one; we are a generation of movers, thinkers, lovers and partiers.  No click dominates the decade or the school yard any more.  We are the most collective generation ever, and we are so close to going over the edge of the cliff into a wild, amazing abyss, that all we need to get started is for one person to jump.  



 I went to the bathroom to get the shower I didn’t get yesterday, if I was going to be in a car with my parents for eight hours or more I didn’t want to be the one that smelled, not so much as to not offend my parents but so that I wouldn’t be the butt of their jokes.  So I bathed, and sang while doing it.

I then dressed and was almost set to go.  While my parents where finishing off their pre road rituals, I smoked more hash and drank three mickeys.  I then snorted the final line of Vicodin and had only the weed and hash left to bring back to Sacramento.  

We then began to load the car.  While helping my dad with the cooler down the stairs, I noticed a cop car parked in the hotel lot.  I became paranoid for two seconds but saw he was taking to a woman in her hotel room doorway while I a man leaned on the other side of the car waiting to give the cop his side of the story.  

When I saw it was a domestic issue, I was relieved and a little proud of myself.  Here I was, the wanted attacker just APBed on the local news, less than twenty feet from the law, and they didn’t have a clue it was me.  I felt like John Dillinger teasing the FBI by walking into their own building in that scene from Public Enemies.  Now I truly felt everything was possible.  My mood had changed completely, I came to Humboldt a depressed lonely angsty teen, I was leaving an experienced, happy, young man.  As we backed out and passed the police car, I smiled and held my middle finger against the window.


It was all over now, here I was In the back seat of my parent’s Sienna again, speeding 80 miles an hour down hill towards my lame hometown, returning victorious.  I felt like I had conquered Humboldt after it tried to conquer me.  I was a totally new person.  I needed a victory anthem, I could just copy Fear and Loathing and play “Jumping Jack Flash, which I did, but I needed my own anthem, something for my story and not just a bit from someone else’s work.  My own anthem had to be my own, yes “Jumping Jack Flash” is a good song to play to celebrate my victory but I still needed my own anthem.  I settled on My Morning Jacket’s “Highly suspicious,” “Get Back” by Ludacris, and “Handlebars” by the Flobots.  So I sat there listening my victory anthems and contemplating my remaining years of high school.  It was still like a prison sentence to me, but a prison sentence that would mean total freedom upon my approaching release.  

And if that’s not enough of a sappy happy ending for you.  Just as we were leaving, I got a very unexpected text from Her, “Hi, Its me, Just wanted to say hi.  I got ur # from a friend, hope that’s okay?”

I wanted to tell Her it was the best thing that ever happened to me, but all I said was, “Its fine, How r u?”  Then I closed my phone awaiting the next message.

So that’s the tale.  That was the journey that changed my life.  A simple family getaway that turned into a run in with the stony law, a potential homicide, and a moment of redemption all in one.  I had become enlightened, empowered, and loved, and it was all thanks to the fact my sister got a job as a cook in Humboldt.


Now as I sat there returning to Sacramento,   speeding down hill at 80 miles per hour, high as a kite and listening to my I pod, I just leaned my head back, looked out the window, and smiled a smug victorious smile.  

That’s when a drunk driver hit us head first going 90 down the wrong side of the street.  My mother and father were killed instantly, and a metal shard got lodged into my knee.  After the accident I went into a two day coma, and when I woke up I was lucky enough to find her, holding my hand.

So what’s the lesson here?  What’s the point of going through all that shit just to lose the two most important people in my life, why even bother trying to be happy when shit like this happens, what the fuck was the point of the whole story?  Well it’s this, lives come and go, so appreciate what you got when it’s there, and don’t compare or compete.  Just love, forgive and forget, and do what you think is right, because no matter how much you demand of yourself, that’s really all you can do to be really truly happy.


Published by James J Jackson

I'm a poet from California.

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