Anything can be turned into an addiction. That’s what they should teach you growing up in school. The nurses should pass out orange glossy pamphlets that read “Do Not Over-Indulge.” But then I guess they would have to explain to 10 year-old me what indulge means. So instead they give lectures and play poorly recorded videos harping on “Just Say No” in terms of drugs or alcohol. But I have an addiction and no one to treat it.
I know it’s an addiction because I grow melancholy and introverted when I don’t get it. Life gets dull and the senses run into a muck of grey, pooling on the grey sidewalk as grey-tarnished shoes stomp carelessly through. The world is occurring around me and yet I am living with my eye inward, hazed into a stupor.
I have an addiction that no one recognizes: but what does it matter? I wouldn’t let them treat me anyways.
The bus bounces along the uneven roads and I with my luggage am wedged in between the seat and the wall. I have become an extension of this dingy old bus, ragged and sweaty from my travels. The sun glares through the windows, angry that I have found refuge. Its rays reach for me and I notice my right arm growing a pinker shade. By the time I arrive, I will be one-half darker than before, probably an ode to my personality. To my left is my travel companion, not exactly one with the bus but not exactly having to fend off the attack of sun either. Instead, she is desperately avoiding the large eyes of the children around and attempting to ignore the thump-thump-thump of the child-turned-soccer-player in the seat behind.
This ride is the state of my mind and at the moment, it’s my high.
The classroom lights are yellow. Not the bright golden yellow that paints fields of sunflowers or the cascading yellow of Tuscan sunlight at 4 o’clock in October. This light is the yellow of despair: the mustard color that hides dark undertones in its seemingly cheerful shade. I am coming off my high and the mustard tarnish is only the prelude to the grey that is to come. It houses enough promise of another time in the horizon but now it is already fading from reach. Soon, the walls of my mind will slip off their golden hue and it too will run down. Sliding under the classroom door, slithering down the hall, drop-by-drop it will leak from the elevator shaft to the ground floor. Where, as I drag my feet on my journey home, it will pool with the rest of the colors of the world to form a new muck of grey.
The wind picked up speed and I hurriedly rushed to the station. It pushed me faster and reminded me that there was a winter coming. The cold would soon set into my bones as I was forced to end my vacation. At this moment, there was still time. Withdrawal would be hard but I needed to enjoy the last drop of sweet salvation while the effects were still in place.
I reached the station and blended into the crowd, moving towards the train. I hopped on and counted the stops. Seven until I would reach my intended stop. Seven, six, five, four, the stops were too long for my liking, three, two, finally. I bounded for the doors, paid my fare, and hurled myself up the stairs. Once at the top, the sunlight tumbled into the entrance behind me and I made my way into the London warmth. The day had grown gorgeous during my Tube ride and I knew that today would be with me always. I had given the city a piece of my heart and a moment of time to listen, and she had returned the favor with a token of English sun spread across my cheeks. On hard, rainy days later, my cheeks would blush with that same sun-kissed red.
I turn over, the tenth time in the last five minutes. Sleep will not come and instead my mind is working itself into a frenzy. Nothing will soothe my thoughts and I feel itchy from inside out. I want to climb out of my skin, and leave it puddled there with the rest of the grey bed sheets while I run far and free. But my body becomes a cage, my bones the bars. Words vibrate around like angry wasps and the sleepless night is anything but quiet.
I wake in the morning feeling incredibly exhausted. Apparently, sleep in the peak of withdrawals is the most burdensome of activities. Remind me not even to bother next time. I will sleep when I collapse. At least then I won’t have dreams on edge.
I sit slumped in my desk chair, staring at the screen. I have lost my passion and my connectivity. I need a small fix; at this moment, anything will do. The street noise outside my window is the only thing that reminds me to breathe. Otherwise, I might hold my breathe thinking that time has frozen. The distance between now and good is too far.
I long for that trip, the one where there are new sights, sounds, and sensations. Every day in between is one step greyer and one stone heavier to bear. Travel pumps through my veins and spills out into rivers of my surroundings, where the bricks and the trees and the waters drunkenly soak in the colors. I am obsessed and without it I get bored; the world turns dull.
Anything can be turned into a full-fledged, gripping addiction.