At 14 my grades started to go down because I almost didnt sleep, watched tv all night, got obsessed with the American civil war and planned to kill myself on the last day of the summer holidays, I became the class clown and almost got suspended, our neighbours were very happy about this because they hated my good grades. After that I started seeing people as rotten. How could they possibly have so much joy from seeing a working class kid with bad grades?? Before that happened I had been mostly aware of the adults who cheered me on. Now the monsters seemed to come out of the closet. I especially hated letting my parents down. I changed schools and ended up almost entirely friendless.

Then I did something simple, but with enormous impact. Instead of taking the bus – which was horror to me as we were always packed like sardines in there- I started going to school by bike. About 4 kms, not a long distance, just long enough to improve my physical condition at least a little bit. It also gave me more freedom, I didn’t have to wait for busses anymore. It also brought me in touch with Ruben, a popular – or so I thought – 1m92 tall mulatto football player. We started biking to school every day. We have remained friends ever since, even talked yesterday, about 20 years after first meeting. He studied Greek-Latin, I studied Greek-Modern Languages. Almost the same thing, so we had a lot of classes in common. I was totally depressed, but somehow he liked me. He started taking me with him to parties. He got girls, I didn’t, but at least it socialized me a tiny bit. My face was completely mauled by acne, I was always almost dressed in black, I refused to wear my glasses in public, so on my bike I didn’t even notice people waving at me and I NEVER made eye contact. This was 6 years before I actually studied how to talk the women. I desperately wanted a girlfriend, so badly I wanted to die because I thought I would never have one. Looking back now even then there were girls approaching me, it just didn’t register it on my radar, female attention was something off the charts, it didn’t exist. More irritating stuff started to happen. In primary school I had been one of the taller kids but now I stopped growing and it turned out I was of average length. My dad had always hoped I would turn out to be tall. Something silly like that really pulled me down. So basically I was so depressed because I thought I would never have a girlfriend, I hated school, I hated the lack of freedom, the regimented life and so I watched television ALL the time, except for a bit of reading, maybe a book or so a week, and going running a lot, that’s all I did. One semester I deciced to apply myself and my grades went up by 7 september, the teachers thought that was a big deal, but later on I slumped back into total depression, did very little, and yet I managed to graduate.

Then I lost an entire year. I also ran away from home for a brief time with Ruben and a friend, and almost got accused of kidnapping someone because that friend was a minor and we had taken him to a foreign country without his parents consent. It’s the only time I nearly made my parents cry. It’s one of the most shameful things I have ever done. Perhaps in the end there was some positive effect from it. My father really talked to me when I got home after that crazy spell. He had also burned all my civil war posters. I had developed a complete obsession with the American Civil War. I can’t even tell you why, but it went very far, I thought about it constantly. Anyway, that night we agreed that I would go on to study something difficult. Together we picked Eastern European Languages. Sort of difficult, I guess, but if we had both known the world a bit better we would never have picked that.

I went to live in Gent and for the first time in my life, at 19, I was completely alone, in a much bigger city than I was used to. No television, no working cell phone, no internet, just a radio, a library card and a generous allowance. Those first 9 months I saved up 500 euro from that allowance. I lived frugally, didn’t meet anyone, studied according to a very strict routine, ran 36 kms a week, three times 12 kms. Did about 500 push-ups a day except on Sunday. I have no idea how I could turn myself into a one man army (my therapist’s description years later). I also started wearing contact lenses, grew my hair long and started to really enjoy doing my own shopping and walking aroud the city and seeing sociable students sitting around in front of their doorsteps with candles and wine. I hoped that would be me one day.

I passed the first year with distinction. I was glad I had passed, but I had expected better grades. I had studied a lot, but I didn’t know how to study, I missed a lot of important stuff.

Anyway, it felt nice to show the neighbours I had passed. Their daughter failed and got fat in the process.

My first place in Gent had several problems:

– it was infested with mosquitoes, I got bitten a lot even with a net

– There was a construction site almost right next to it

– It was located right near the red lights district and the johns drove around all night in their cars to pick prostitutes from the safety of their own car… It was bloody annoying. I also refused to go through those streets. The prostitutes would bang on their windows trying to lure you in. They looked good and the whole thing freaked me out. I have never slept with a prostitute, I just can’t do it. It would be easy if I could, but I can’t.

The new place had 7 rooms, two were occupied by me and a classmate who had become something like my brother almost. The other 5 were occupied by women. It smelled of women everywhere, even when you opened the door a wave of perfumes wrapped itself around you. It drove me crazy, I talked for hours and hours to them. My real education was about to start. I fell hopelessly in love with one of them, but she rejected me. However, one night when I was sleeping in bed she literally dove into my bed naked. I was in love with this woman, she was attractive, she was naked. I asked if I could touch her, she said yes and still I froze. She suddenly left, probably completely sobered up by my passivity and insecurity.

I had given up alcohol more than a year or maybe two ago, but now something snapped in me. I did not want to be the guy who messed up an opportunity like that. I had a bottle of liquor and drank most of it. Then I ran to her room, emboldened by the alcohol, but she wasn’t in the mood anymore, I had to leave. I don’t remember if I kept drinking but I did swear this would never happen to me again. That night I sms-ed my parents how great they were. That was a first. From that point on I started to talk to my father, finally. I don’t know why we never did before.

I also swore to get an extremely active social life. Surprisingly I got it almost immediately. I also finally got sex. The incident had changed my mindset. That same week an other woman ended up in my bed. I wasn’t attracted to her and she begged me for sex, but I had to reject her. Then I went on a summer course in Ljubljana, Slovenia and the world opened. I was born. I was born at the ripe age of 21. Four women wanted me in one week. I spent the night with two of them. One was incredibly hot. I think she saved me. She practically forced me to touch her everywhere and I needed to be forced. I couldn’t imagine a woman would ever want to be touched by me, but she made it so clear that I did. I will be forever grateful to her. Two days after an other woman ended up in my bed. She was crazy about me, 14 years later we are still in touch. We didn’t have penetrative sex, but we did do some stuff. This was like a tidal wave of sex for my standards.

About two months later I had sex and found out that this was the thing that had been missing, all my depressions had been mostly linked to the lack of intimacy with women.

The girl who had raided my bedroom that one night had moved out, for obvious reasons. The girl who took her room was exactly my type. She blew me away. She came knocking on my door one day and she said later that she knew instantly we would have sex. That first day we talked for 22 hours. Two days later she made it abundantly clear she wanted to have sex. She was amazing. Sometimes we spent three whole days and nights in bed. I started cutting class a lot to get more sleep after having sex all night and day.

She was wonderful, I was unbelievably attracted to her, but I had got a taste for women, I had sort of figured out how to talk to them, my social life was booming and I cheated on her with two others. She got mad and back then I didn’t know how to fix a situation like that. We could have stayed together, but I didn’t know how back then and I chose the easy way out, I continued dating one of the girls I had cheated with. She was totally sex-crazed. We had sex all the time, sometimes she had 9 orgasms a day. The sex wasn’t as good as with the first, but it wasn’t bad either. I cheated on her with several others, including the first one. I had gone from an innocent virgin to some kind of sex maniac who routinely cheated on the girlfriends who he thought he would never have merely a year before. One day this second girl read my emails with all details of almost all my escapades, we managed to stay together for about four more months, but something had broken there.

In the mean time the other event of my life had taken place. My professor of Slovene had told me I was definitely a writer and had encouraged me to write plays. I have always thought it was my curse I wanted to be a writer. It’s fucking hard to write something good, let alone make a living that way, like I wanted. I have often wished I would never have desired to write a damn thing, but I have probably spent about 10,000 hours of my life writing, perhaps more. Which still sounds insane to me. Maybe I should invested all that time in something else.

But college got to be fun, it was sexy, it was hot, adventure lurked behind every corner. Guys started asking me where all these women kept coming from. I lived with the delusion that I would just end up being a famous writer, that I didn’t have to worry about mapping any kind of career path. How little does one know about the adult world when you are privileged to have the freedom of it and not the responsibilities. The prospect of dragging yourself to work becomes extra painful after having had threesomes with insanely hot women. Imagine life can be enjoyable at level 11 and then suddenly find yourself at level 2 or less… Looking back the last years of college seem like one never ending fuckfest with staging plays, lots of exercises, surprising encounters, etc. For while after college I kept up the same rhythm, I got

into a relationship with a super open-minded physician with Iranian roots, we had some crazy times, but with the drag of having to make money, and being a much more responsible person that I ever gave myself credit for, I had to tone it all down a couple notches. Plus when my dad killed himself – although I would say life killed him – everything changed. I let myself go. And I got a lot of resentment towards the world and society’s expectations.

I think a lot my behavior stems from my desire to recreate the levels of happiness I experienced in those years back in college. In fact, for about the last ten years I have lived in the past, when my dad was still alive, when I had hoped and dreams and a body I could look at in the mirror and feel great, when I had the discipline to take care of myself, when I felt socializing was meaningful and an orgy was always only 5 minutes away given the right spark. So great experiences can make everything look stale afterwards.

I meet a lot of people now, professionally, and I know I come accross as this innocent, geeky, sweet guy, and they have absolutely no idea where I have been, the crazy things I have done, they don’t know about the women who cheated on their boyfriends with me, who sometimes were on the phone with their boyfriends while I was licking them to the kind of orgasm they had never had with them. They don’t know, I don’t look the part, I still think I look innocent, and that’s odd after all of it. I am still expecting some stranger to walk up to me on the street and ask: ‘How did you do it, man, how did you do it?’

You gotta want it enough.

And you have to be willing to pay the price.

And you pay more than you think.

To me it was and is worth it, all in all, but only barely.

The happiness project (15 of 365)

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