Drastic changes began to happen in my life.
Unprepared and unwilling, I was separated from almost everyone I trusted and loved, and even my parents, the only family members who were still by my side, could not spend much time with me. They both had things to worry about, such as monthly household expenses or other small privileges that, due to their efforts, we could afford.
Even at night, when they came home from work, we didn’t talk enough to each other. All that emerged from their mouths were the same daily recurring questions: How have you been? How was school?
And, like them, as if to prove to the world that I was their son, I also answered them in only two ways, everything is fine; everything is normal.
I acted that way because I never liked to show weakness to anyone, so they would never know how lonely and stressed I was.
My pride was so great that I could never ask them for anything, not even the help I needed to overcome my greatest fear.
I was afraid of the dark and loneliness.
It was impossible for me to feel comfortable in a house inhabited by my two greatest fears, so I had to overcome them to get used to my new life. But, to do so without the support of my parents was not at all easy, so I had to ask for the help of a close cousin, who, by phone call, with her voice accompanied me on my journey as I explored the lonely house until my fear gradually vanished.
On that occasion, luck was on my side, as I got the result I wanted, but it came with a high price to pay, and that was to distance myself even further from the family I had left behind in Brooksville.
That happened because after getting used to my new home, I could enjoy more of the calls I made periodically to feel accompanied, yet having a clear mind also made the contrast between the two environments became more evident in my eyes.
On a Saturday like any other, when my parents were at work, I was bored with watching TV because I couldn’t find anything interesting, so I thought, why not call my cousin and ask her how things were going over there? So, I did.
We talked for hours, laughing and teasing each other. It really was fun, almost as if I had gone back a couple of months into the past, but eventually, the conversation was cut short when my aunt announced that it was time for lunch, so with a warm goodbye and a mental hug, we ended the call.
After that, well…
At the end of the call, I could not help but be stunned for a few moments. I stood there in front of the telephone with no expression left on my face while, with unfocused eyes, I stared blankly at the house’s roof for no reason.
At that moment, I could not help remembering the recent call because, in it, it was not only my cousin’s voice that reverberated in my ears, for I could also hear her little brothers, who among themselves were fighting to choose who could talk to me first, meanwhile, their mother, my aunt, was scolding them furiously for their actions, demanding them to behave appropriately despite their young age and, finally, the noise of the television resounded in the distance, which, apparently, was watched by my aunt’s husband from the living room sofa.
They, as always, seemed so happy, so content and friendly, yet there I was, far away from them, in a house that was too big for me alone, waiting for my parents to arrive to greet me and give me that hug I needed so badly to forget what I had just heard.
For that reason, as time passed, I stopped calling my other family, and thus, the relationship that had accompanied me for so many years crumbled.
Such was the greatest act of cowardice I could have done.
Besides, that relationship was not the only thing that was lost after I moved, my excellent ability to socialize also disappeared, and the fact is that, until then, in my almost ten years of life, I had never considered myself someone shy, after all, how could I be when I trained myself by chatting with my large family?
I daily talked to them about many things, from nonsense or craziness with my cousins to mature topics with my aunts and uncles… well, maybe those weren’t, but I thought so.
But after being enrolled in the new school, all that experience seemed to vanish because there I became the introverted boy in the classroom, that one who did not talk to anyone unless they approached me first, and even in the isolated cases when that happened, the conversation was quickly cut off since I did not show interest in that person.
Living trapped in such a day-to-day life, I had no motivation to go to school, but despite that, I did it only to please my parents, although, being in that place, I counted the minutes and hours, wishing for classes to end as soon as possible.
Even the classes didn’t seem to me to be interesting because, to me, everything was so easy and boring.
That repetitive routine continued throughout the rest of elementary school, and maybe I would have stayed that way for much longer, but that all changed in my first year of middle school after I met the first friend I had made since I moved to my parent’s house.
Fat Oliver was an ugly nickname my classmates called him by, a moniker that annoyed me as much as it did him. I was disgusted that they made fun of my best and only friend like that, although, in private, I also called him chubby, but that was because we trusted each other.
Anyway, that guy was the one who got me out of my daily routine by making me decide to stay at school even though classes were over, all to talk to him some more.
At first, we only talked about video games and movies, but, during the summer holidays, before entering our second year of middle school, I became interested in the world of comics, so after recommending some to him, our conversations became more varied and even more heated, so much so that sometimes the teachers scolded us for chattering in the middle of class.
Then… well, in a way, that was a bit too soon, but I consider that the second turning point of my life came in my third and last year of middle school, just when Fatty got interested in the otaku world, and just like I did with him, he tried to transmit his tastes to me.
Disgusting, that was the first thing I thought when I saw the overweight boy arrive at my house, covered in sweat from the summer sun and wearing a T-shirt illustrated with an anime image of a little girl. For the first time in all my life, I thanked God that my parents also worked on Saturdays.
My first impression of that world was the worst. I feared with all my heart that I would end up dressing the same way as him, so even though the anime at home was quite fun, with my interest at a low ebb and my wariness in the clouds, I didn’t dare to delve into it on my own.
However, Oliver’s insistence was tremendous, as for several weeks, he recommended dozens upon dozens of anime of all kinds, both new and old, and both comedy and thriller.
I was really fed up. I wanted to tell him to stop, that I didn’t like it, that it bored me, but I did not, after all, he read the comics I told him without a squeak, so, in order not to lose the only friend I had, I looked at them with reluctance.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans in store for us.
In the middle of that school year, while playing video games at my house, the boy told me that his parents had decided to send him to live with his brother in another state.
Curiously, as shocking as the news was, without being alarmed, I indifferently asked him when and why.
What he told me was that his parents decided to send him away because, near the university where his brother was studying, there was a high school focused on sports, so they wanted to enroll him there for him to lose weight. They were concerned about his health.
After listening to him speak to the end, I responded with a brief reply of understanding before falling into an awkward silence which did not last long, as we later continued to play as if nothing had happened.
It is worth noting that by that time, my relationship with my family was no longer close plus, I had also become addicted to everything related to the world of the internet and video games, so combining all those circumstances resulted in my emotions stagnating.
Of course, I was saddened to hear it, but except for anger and joy, I could not express emotions like sadness on my face, or at least not in front of someone. I couldn’t even ask him to stay, as I understood his parents’ choice. Losing weight would be the best thing for his future.
However, I didn’t want things to end like that because, in those last months, I only talked to him out of obligation about a subject I didn’t like to hear about.
I wanted us to have the same fun conversations we had before, so I tried to immerse myself in the world I loved so much. Because of that, I watched several anime, saw a lot of manga, and read dozens of novels.
In the end, I got what I wanted, but… I ended up overdoing it.