No mask. No tights. No cape. And certainly no high-tech crime-fighting gadgets. Nonetheless, home makes me feel like a superhero. I don’t mean in any of the fun ways, either. No, just the one where I have a secret identity and I can’t tell anybody about it.
Whenever I talk with anybody I knew in high school — if I talk to them — I shut out the last five years and end up discussing the same boring people and remembering things that happened in high school that I wasn’t too crazy about when they were happening. “No, I don’t know what Jackoff McGee is doing now.” “Yes, I remember when that thing happened. What a riot!” I touch on what I’m doing now — where I’m living, what I did in college and if I’m feeling generous, what I’ve got planned for the next five minutes of my life — but I honestly feel like there’s no point in discussing anything that matters.
That’s where the superhero part comes in. Superheroes do cool stuff. They meet interesting people, punch them, live to tell about it and learn some random, esoteric factoids in the process. I’m not comparing my tiny little life to anything cool, really. A part-time job as a book-hocker and a chance to write some article for the Independent that may or may not get published isn’t much. I’d like to meet the person who envies me. (No, I wouldn’t.) But I think I’ve gotten somewhere as a person. The last five years, during which I have done a few noteworthy things, have gotten me quite a distance from the person I was when I graduated high school. I learned a thing or two about myself, but I also got a better grasp on these little tidbits about culture and whatnot — books, movies, art, history, philosophy — that I genuinely value.
But there’s no way to talk about any of that.
If I did try to discuss it — and such an act would necessitate more than the five-minute conversation I usually limit myself to — I’d probably sound like more of an idiot than these people already think I am. Furthermore, they probably wouldn’t get it. (Let’s face it — they live in Hollister.) And even if they did get it, what would I seem like to someone who never got out of this horrible town? Hollister, the town that can’t muster the people power to keep a bookstore in business, or even a bowling alley. I’d seem like some asshole who wanted to lord all his hey-I-learned-something over the heads of people who presumably didn’t. (They didn’t, I’m sure.)
So instead, I pretend I’m getting some important call and split, leaving the conversation at the most superficial level possible. The other person, whoever they are, thinks I’m still the same smart-mouthed sack of shit I was in high school, still clinging to those memories, oblivious to the fact that I’ve managed to mentally get away. (Except, of course, when I’m physically there.) They don’t know that I’ve done more than I ever did or could have in Hollister. They don’t know I’m an adult now. They don’t know that I will do something phenomenal one day.
They don’t know and they don’t care.
What I wouldn’t give to airlift my parents’ house to some other part of the world. But that, I suppose, would necessitate super powers.