By: Nick “Tapobu” Rohlf
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
I wasn’t going back. Of course I wasn’t going back, but it was still a shock to have it spelled out. For two weeks, I lay in my bed questioning the purpose of my own existence. I had lost my friends. I had been kicked out of school. And I had gravely injured those I claimed to love most. I begged God to show me that I still had some purpose in this world. He responded by giving me a blizzard. I love blizzards.
I woke up one morning to discover that the power was out. I lay in bed for a while to stay warm, but I started to hear these strange cracking noises. I ran upstairs to see what damage had been done and discovered a wintry paradise. Icicles hung from trees so heavily that their branches became weighed down and began to crack. As I stood there admiring the beautiful destruction of it all, we got a phone call. Apparently my mother’s phone number was on the town’s website for some odd reason, and a reporter from a major regional newspaper called us to ask if we could go take pictures of the damage. My mom has polio in her leg and couldn’t really go around and operate the camera with all the bad roads, so I volunteered. Despite having a “dumb-phone,” my pictures were still good enough to make it onto the website. Around noon, we got another call, this time from a tv station. They wanted to use my pictures. I remember thinking to myself, “Really, God? Really?” and then “Oh fine you win.” Thus began my attempt to learn how to reconnect with society.
I began by getting a job. It was at a local telemarketing agency. I remember walking in on my first day thinking to myself, “Am I really gonna have to work with these people? They look like bums and druggies and I’m not going to get along with any of them.” Naturally, within two weeks we were all the best of friends. The hospital had taught me how to force myself to trust people. This job taught me how to make small talk both on the phone and off. I quickly came to be known as “Little Nick.” Though this job was often terribly boring, I did have many an adventure there. During one call I will never forget, a little girl answered the phone pretending to be her father. She proceeded to go through an entire twenty-minute farm survey for me, try to sell me lipstick, invite me to her birthday party, and tell me she loved me.
Outside work, I took it upon myself to re-learn what love and friendship meant. I read CS Lewis’s books The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, and The Four Loves. Not only did I learn what it meant to truly love someone, I also discovered that my problems were not unique. I was not the first to suffer in such a way. I was not the first to make the mistakes I’d made. I was not evil beyond redemption. I was merely human. Foolish, broken, beautiful human.
As per requirements of my school’s administration, I continued seeing doctors and counselors. I learned that I had been tentatively diagnosed with a number of things, but quite honestly the doctors didn’t exactly know what to do with me. As I came to trust them more, I told them more and more about why I’d done the things I had. I was overwhelmed, and I had refused to get the help I’d needed. Now I was learning all I hadn’t known before. The psychologist I’d been seeing at the time never did figure out what was wrong with me, but it seemed to be on its way out.
By May, my school’s administration had told me I would be welcomed back to school conditionally. I accepted its conditions and began to prepare myself for what was to come. I was so terribly afraid. Afraid I would make the same mistakes again. Afraid I would make new, worse mistakes. Afraid that I would again love too selfishly. Afraid that I would not be able to love at all. And then, before I knew it, move-in day had arrived.