There is no way in hell I can answer the question “Who I am”. For, unlike God who paradoxically commanded “I am who I am”, the equally divine Eminem who prophetically uttered, “I am whoever I say I am” or the drunken Winston Churchill who said he was a “glow-worm”, I am completely unsure of who I am. I’m not a god, nor do I share my name with a candy brand, nor do I hit back a bottle of brandy when things go to the underground. I believe there are no identities, no stereotypes, and no holistic names that can adequately fit around and label me like a jar. My name is even a misnomer: Kacper. It is reminiscent of a friendly ghost but seems to be off the mark. As far as I am concerned, I am not friendly. Bitch.
Now, I am not saying that I am different. As my brother has said, “That’s impossible. I have a twin.” Nor am I saying my thoughts are of unequal cerebral heights that even Schrödinger would be uncertain of; I am the intellectual equivalent of a goldfish. All that I am really saying is that I am anything and everything I have ever been. I am a brother, a friend, an enemy, a lover, an idiot and so on. Yet this also implies that I am what I am not, as nothing is still something. So I am not a priest, a comedian, or a Kardashian. Very disappointed about the third one.
The question, then, does not run “who I am”. I am no closer in answering that than we are of understanding the hotdog to bun ratio. At least for the latter question, you can relish in the ambiguity of an answer. For the former, the question of this essay should instead read, “who I have become” and “how it has all coalesced into the haphazardly drawn portrait of me”.
It’s a mouthful I know but every day, every hour, and every second, one can look at my present portrait, the outward depiction of “who I am”, and see an intersection of various lines that are no more distinct than a fart in the wind. I just hope I stink less and taste better.
To understand this, let’s begin from the beginning. Before the smog that cluttered my self-perception, before any firework lit the night sky when I allowed a girl to graze her hand against my bearded face, before I became better than my twin in every way feasible, I was darkness. We all were. It is what we all are still, and it is what we will become. No matter the prosthetic creations humanity fashions, the speed of darkness is always faster than the speed of light. Just lock yourself into a dark closet for the mathematical proof. Regardless, all stories begin with the beginning. Duh. Some end soon after, some drag on for 19 years. They are the boring kind; they are called, “The Life and Times of the Kacper Niburski.”
In the beginning, when God or Shiva or Entropy or McDonalds or Whatever, created the universe, there was a great plan to create a ball of cells unlike any other. All it took was 13.7 billion years, some 2 billion species, a chromosomal lottery ticket, and two winners. Margaret Spurek and Waldemar Niburski hit the lotto DNA 25,000 at the age of 24 and 27 respectfully. Excited about their winning draw, there was an increase in the frequency of exasperated gasps and sweaty bodies at night, and an amorphous blob of cells was born from the aftermath. The blob was indistinct; just two little sacs of fluid that would turn out to look more like ducks than humans. I guess I was always born to be a quacker.
Little cells, though, stand infinitesimally small against the scales of the universe. If they were to be wiped out, would civilizations past and present weep? Would the world turn differently? No. The Universe wouldn’t even notice. So, despite the endlessness of worried faces and prayers, my brother and I came into the world from a womb we had to tear empty to ensure the weight of the Universe would not squish us. We pulled our umbilical cord harness too quickly though and found ourselves skydiving into a cold, harsh world without a parachute. We couldn’t even scream that our backpacks were empty.
It is not that we had nothing to say. Oh no. We wished to scream that our lungs had not yet developed, that our hearts were riddled with holes, and our birth was a mistake happening all too soon. But in our prematurity, the mere two pound, little mice of men (for we really did look like mice more than men) were unable to adequately let out even the faintest of squeaks. Even our breaths were considered outlandish by some and divine gifts by others. So, before I even gained consciousness, forces outside of my control had determined my physical identity. I stood as a manifestation of what a few cups of water and a sprinkle of minerals could become.
I was a miracle.
After the premature birth, I became not a product of my environment, but an environmental production, so to speak. Listen. Darwinian selection had it wrong. Environments do not always select an animal’s trait. I was not selected for survival. I was “naturally inept”; yet I live. I suppose human ingenuity did not originally fit into the Darwinian theory of natural selection. He spent so much time on the eyes, and so little on the brain. But I digress.
My environment was altered to fit me, not the other way around. So IV-saline solutions became a substitute for poorly enriched blood. Oxygen pumps were a replacement for failing air bags that squished together like shriveled grapes. My mother’s careful, glittering eyes became filled with a room full of doctors. They all had judging, cold microscopes installed where their eyes should have been. I became a scientific experiment. I was Bohr’s nucleus of an atom, with little white electrons floating around me, hoping for the eventual collapse of the nucleus. But I did not falter. In my story, in the great plan that matters little to the Universe, there was no food for the vultures, no laughter for hyenas.
With time, I became more than a classical atom; I was quantum mechanics. No one understood my needs, simple as they may have been. All I willed for was survival and peace. Instead, I spun around and around and no one knew what would happen to me. But even in the mayhem, life boils down to two choices: live in one body or die in one body. Schrödinger’s cat knew this all too well. These choices found themselves mixed in with medicine and statistics and deadpan expressions uttering listless words to an exhausted mother and a worried father that the god of probability assured them that two little boys would just be a flick of dust in an ocean. They were told I was a gift to be presented to the world but forever unwrapped. I was the fucking face of a kid on Christmas day before his house burned down. The doctors chose for me to die. Statistics chose for me to die. My parents thought I would die.
I chose to live.
So I cried in retaliation to probability. People around me couldn’t help but stare with their beady eyes. They glared. They observed, and this very act of observation changed the entire experiment. Gazing eyes made sure I lived. With two eyes, even Schrödinger’s cat can have nine lives and I was lucky enough to keep my one.
At this point it could be said, all things turn right in the end. A drunk will find his bottle. A solider will always leave a war. Whether the solider leaves the war through death or end of service is something else entirely. So I too turned out ‘alright’. My heart formed, my airways collapsed less frequently. I became a boy with but a few developmental problems.
For example, running was a task meant for the gods who trekked on the clouds. Unfortunately, my wings had been clipped at birth. So instead of running around, I stared begrudgingly, allowing the envy to simmer up inside me. Stagnant, and unchanging; I was finally immutable; at peace; and I hated it. My sister always wished to play with my brother and I, but with knees like ice melting in the summer, were both a porous mess. When we tried to run, our limbs would always flail around and our arms would become clubs swinging savagely in all directions. In a sentence, we became a vegetable.
I guess, looking back on it all, it is fitting that I am a vegetarian now.
Regardless of that, all icicles have their sparkle; it just comes in the beginning of winter. So despite my icicle legs, I became a regular boy, eventually. With this change, I became immersed in the latest pop culture and childhood games. Sure I was picked last sometimes. Sure I wasn’t a valued asset of very many teams save for the chess team. Sure I turned ‘bench-warming’ into an Olympic sport with the flat bum I have acquired from the copious amounts of bench sitting I have done. That all did not matter though. No longer was I an individual distinguished solely by what I couldn’t do. Instead, I became part of a greater whole. I had friends. I could laugh, look stupid, play games I was no good at, and still do it all over again the next week, the next day, the next recess even. I was finally happy.
And so my life became a never-ending transition of states I have phased through. Surpassing my environment, I was able to become something greater than myself and the corporeal flesh I had been transcribed into. What I once was, whatever it may have been, I take with me wherever I go. For it is not where we are born, how we are born, but what we do against it all. We all are born; we all die, those are the only two certainties; life is in between. Whether it was controlled by my parents, or I had a choice in the matter, I am here, writing this all down, attempting to provide justification for a person I have trouble to define: me, Kacper Edward Niburski.
If I were to try, I’d say Kacper is an intersection of personas, minds, states, feelings, ideas, thoughts, conversations, actions, sports teams, foods I liked, people I have hated, people who have hated me, all of which take form in anything I do. To have the audacity to sum it up, I am a clusterfuck.