I invite you to read a story. About myself. Why?
What can be interesting enough for you to give it your time?
Well, the answer is in you. It's you. I am you.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But even though both of us have different stories to tell, we are both human.
No point in denying - this similarity is both our weakness and our strength, if we learn how to use it wisely.
What happens in this particular story is a mix of drama, thriller, slice of life, comedy and mystery. The ratios of ingredients vary in every scene. That's an average life.
When you look at some parts - you laugh or smile - because of how absurd the coincidences or mistakes seem. Absurd and benign. Other times the same amount of mistakes and coincidences makes a tragedy - to mourn.
What's important is that you never lose the will to see what's behind the next corner, the next hill, the next mountain. Because horizons and borders - both those on maps and those you make for yourself - are meant to be examined, explored and crossed. Veni and vidi don't always precede vici. To see and cross, you need to first conquer your fears.
Even if you don't have a vision still, you can always create one. If you can't see tomorrow, live today and tomorrow will come on its own. Try to own today, to make tomorrow yours, too. Don't give in to the doubts that murk your thoughts. Doubts will always assist you, wherever you go. But it doesn't mean you can't live and be yourself - maybe sometimes even take advantage of your doubts - after all, doubts come in bulk and aren't only yours. Every question you have is bound to have rooted also in another person's mind. The probability is huge. Thus, do not fear to take a step or to ask. The answers, if they can be found, are useful for the collective good.
So that when a day comes when you go away, that you may regret the least and not every single decision you hesitated to fight for. Because life is not a notebook from which you can tear out the unwanted content. Life's written in stone that is the essence of you.
Now, let me begin.
My story begins when it does. I'm not sure if I can pinpoint the exact date, if I can even think of all the happenings preceding my creation that could have taken part in how my history unwinds. But I was conceived and born just like you. Outwards from the inwards. From this point, both my understanding and my physicality grew outwards from the center that I saw as me, when I finally understood the concept of self. Before I got to truly appreciate what it meant to have parents, I lost them. The accident was quite tragic, a truck driver suffered a heart attack and - quite needless to add - lost control of the wheel. The mass of the truck, even though the speed wasn't above the limit, easily squished my parents' car with them inside, between the truck and the cement wall they parked by. There was no hope. But they persisted in me. In my mind, too, for a while, for a short while, as a 7-year-old boy understands the concept of death, but it takes a while to digest the information, to take in the fact you'll never be able to see, to hear, to touch someone again. To feel the warmth of a hug or a concern in the stare as you lie with a fever.
As I wasn't lucky enough to have any close family that could or were willing to take me, I ended up in an orphanage. It was one of the good ones. Four kids in one room, two desks, a big window with a marvelous view of a sea and the coastline. When the windows were freshly cleaned, seagulls would sometimes crash into them, leaving oily marks of feathers, which were illuminated by the moonlight on cloudless nights.
I was in the room with, among two others, my best friend Adam. I wasn't a very outgoing kid, but I think that before ... the real beginning of this story started - which triggered how I lived the rest of my life and made my look inwards instead of outwards... I think that I laughed a lot. I smiled a lot. Sure, my mom and dad had died and it was tragic - but none of us in the orphanage had any family, any close family, at least. I lived in the moment, as kids do. We live, we look forward to holidays, we laugh at funny things, which are mostly things we don't yet understand - but what matters is that we're having fun and slowly but steadily learning more and more about the world and ourselves.
I just realized I haven't yet told you my name. Whoever knew me better, called me Aki – including myself – a nickname from my surname – Ackerman. To others my name was Hugo.
Back to the story, then...
I usually hung out with Adam, since we were the same age, born a month apart, but on the same day. He had blond hair, but on most days they'd pass for reddish, especially compared to my ashen ones. We were quite different, to be frank. I loved reading (and would gladly be left in the small library we’ve had in the orphanage – preferably alone), while he didn’t especially fancy spending free time in solitary surroundings – at least without some company. He always found a way to drag me out and do the craziest things I would never dare to do alone… and I loved him for it. He was my best friend, the one I could always talk to, the one that always made me laugh. Even though sometimes I had the notion his hazel eyes weren't focused on what he was supposed to be looking at.
That spring day the snow had already melted completely and the weather was warm with thin air and no wind, as if it was trying to make up for all the days when the sun was scarcely seen. Our unaccommodated eyes almost couldn't bear the rays digging seemingly right into our brains through our eyes. And we had to sit till 4 PM by our desk right by the window, blinded by light. By the time the clock announced 2 PM, we were so exhausted that I gladly accepted Adam's idea to ditch the rest of the day, even though the possibility of getting caught and/or scolded was insanely high. At the spur of the moment, we decided to sneak out during the break. That was fairly easy, considering our public school had a yard with a playground and kids from different years, without uniforms, ended their classes at various times during the day and many left the school unaccompanied by their parents or caretakers. We just went out.
As we disappeared around the corner and felt the sea breeze on our faces, I asked Adam where he'd like to go. He didn't look at me, just stared at the sea, shifting his gaze from right to left and then raised his arm and pointed to the east, saying: "There". What he pointed at were the ruins of a castle, mostly visited by junkies and people with shifty business to make deals. Everyone knew it wasn't a great idea to go there. Still, almost everyone went there at some point in their lives. After all, castles are not to be missed, they are to be explored, to be touched like the memories of the past that they are. The memories that still have a form and most of their shape, even though they don't speak with voices that we could understand.
I was hesitant, but as Adam pulled me by my arm, I made a step. Then another one. I couldn't not follow.