I ran into an old picture of myself, circa 1996. It was a “photoshoot” my mom did of my brother and I, back when we got two completely smashed and out-of-tune guitars and started taping acoustic punk songs. “Los Rasquitelis de Pudahuel” we called ourselves. “Pudahuel’s Slumdogs.” I’m bummed out those homemade tapes are lost, but the memories aren’t. Sadly. Those were rough days. My parents were fighting all the time, I was being heavily bullied at school and in my neighborhood and, since I was right about hitting puberty, my hormones and unprompted hard-ons were driving me nuts. Fucked up, awful times. ‘96.
Everything we do and experience has consequences and will resonate for years or even decades to come. Some of our deeds will, inevitably, last us for the rest of our lives. Which is not all negative, as it might sound. The bullying made me shy, and the shyness and social awkwardness made me lock myself up indoors and find comfort on tv, movies and my imagination. Pain became my muse and those screens I hid behind taught me the language in which I am now writing these words. Not too bad, after all, huh?
But, do you think I was happy, at the time, when this shit was figuratively and literally beating me up? When I was ridiculed, mocked, spat on, isolated? Fuck no. I didn’t know better, I couldn’t tell the future would bring some reward to this seemingly endless and certainty underserved aggression. And now, 24 years later, I still find it hard to look back without cringing. And nothing I have lived, not even all the perks nor the earned privilege, had got rid of this bitter taste in my mouth.
Do you ever feel like traveling back in time just to hold your younger self in a warm embrace he has never got, comforting him as nobody ever did, and telling him everything will be alright, even if it’s a lie? Just for a second there making him feel he’s not alone. Just for a moment, even if it’s not true?
I was tempted to write something more uplifting, but as I was trying to type a decent article last night, I ended up running out of words very quickly. You know what I did to commemorate, somehow, this past February 29th? I sat down and crafted a spreadsheet in my laptop with all the women I’ve been with. Each and every single one of them. How fucked up is that? And how fucked up is that all of them are gone which, in a way, removes them from the realm of reality? It fucks with my head. Did they really happen? Or did I make them up in my head just to cope with this fucking nauseating loneliness?
Whether they existed or not, it doesn’t matter anymore. Those fleeting days I got with them were something that my younger self never did, nor ever thought would happen: not being alone. I was held. I was touched. I laughed, I cried, I orgasmed and crawled under arms and sheets and sweat and warmth. I was loved and I loved. I was hated. I was rejected. But I fucking existed and was part of somebody else’s universe. Briefly. And in those instants, I was glorious, for I wasn’t the hermit I was forced to be. I wasn’t the pariah I’ve been always treated like. I was embraced and, even in the heat of their hatred, in the dawn of their disgust, I was there. I fucking WAS. I belonged. I mattered. And, maybe today, one of them will, in the blink of an eye, have a flashback of me. Of ME! Eduardo fucking Hernández. And that’s proof that I AM.
If I could talk to my younger self, I’d tell that to him. And I would look him in the eye and say: “We ARE. And the fact that we are, no matter what they do or how hard they fucking try, they can never, EVER, take away from us. And there might be no real, warm embraces for the rest of our days. But embrace this truth. Embrace your uniqueness, because that is all you have. All we will have. And this immaterial possession makes us great. Before our own eyes, at least. Which, honestly, is fine. We are alone. But fuck it. And fuck them. We are cool, just like that.”
Your older, wiser self.
March 1st, 2020.