Sorry, Mom: I've Never Really Been Here

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 10.854% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

While the Greek vacation was lovely, I’m told my Mom had one complaint: “He always has his nose in that cell phone!  He’s missing everything!”
Which is interesting, because it mirrors the complaint she always had of me on vacation as a kid: “He always has his nose in a book!”
I remember endless vacations as a kid where my Mom told me to leave the damn book in the car.  And half the time I’d smuggle it along anyway, sneaking a page in here, half a chapter there, re-reading when necessary.  I tried not to do it when there was anything interesting happening – though it often took me a while to determine that conversations not directly involving me were interesting – but what everyone always seems to forget is that a lot of vacations are about standing in line, getting tickets, trapped in that interstitial area between Point A and Point B.
I don’t mean to be rude, I really don’t.  But I’ve got two problems that have always shadowed me: I get bored very very easily on travels, and crowds of people overwhelm me.  When I have the energy, I try to strike up conversations, but being among so many people rubs me raw as sandpaper.
For me, reading (whether that’s a book or Twitter) is a mini-way to recharge so I don’t melt down.  It’s like bobbing into a pool of cool water on a hot day – I’m generally trying to rinse off some excess stress quickly so I can get back to whatever semblance of normal I have.
The world’s a little overwhelming right now, so I’m gonna dart off into this closet to forget where I am.  Then I’ll pop on back.
(And the truth is, half the time when I’m not looking at my book and/or cell phone, I’m not there either.  I wonder whether I became a writer out of some defense mechanism, because while you’re looking at this beautiful Turkish countryside, I’m wandering through a fictional world I’ve created, wondering how the economy in a floating castle works.  I spend a lot of time not here, and the cell phone’s just the obvious sign.)
And I know it’s substandard.  Sometimes I do miss out on conversations, try though I might.  Sometimes I know people wanna share things with me and they can’t get my head out of the otherworld in time.  Sometimes they wanna talk to me and I don’t look like I care.
It’s a weird balance.  Because the truth is, if I put the book down, I don’t think it’d be a much better experience for them.  I’d be more stressed, and more likely to snap, and more likely to withdraw into myself in weird depressions.  (People who travel with me have seen me get overwhelmed, and I promise you it’d happen more without the books.)
The truth is, I am a carefully perpetrated illusion.  I function as a human being because I have very carefully controlled my environment to manipulate myself into productivity – my social life is carefully orchestrated, my social media is designed to allow me the personal contact I need, my outings brief and preplanned.  People like me because I’ve engineered my life so I show up at the good moments and close the shutters when the bad days come.
(Even as part of that environment involves revelatory posts like this, so those who know me understand me on some level.  I’m addressing this to my mother because she’s the one who inspired this, but part of that environmental shaping involves friends and acquaintances reading this and going, “Oh, yeah, that’s who he is.”)
So yeah, I’ve got my nose in a cell phone, or a book.  And I get that it’s annoying.  You have a right to get annoyed, because honestly I’m annoyed.  If I was a normal person I wouldn’t need to retreat.  If I was a normal person I wouldn’t need this continual pressure valve of me nipping off to Elsewhere to come on back a little stronger.  If I was a normal person I could spend three hours at a party without having to close myself in the isolation of a bathroom for a bit so I can breathe.
But I’m not.  I try.  But you have a right to be annoyed because I wasn’t listening when you needed me to, because you wanted to share this experience and it flittered by before I could see it with you.
My life’s a compromise some days.  I’m sorry about that.
I’ll try to look up more.

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