I remember some years ago, I was waking up on a futon in my grandmother’s house; drool clung to my mouth as allergies had forced my mouth open as I slept in my work clothes. I wasn’t planning on going to work though. I woke up and took a shower. My roommate at the time, who had recently been reunited with his mother and sister, complained that I had used the last of the shampoo, so I promised that I would get more right away.
And so I did.
From my memories the words are the first to go, particularly my own. I’m left with a vague impression and the thoughts of others voices as though they had just finished speaking. I would try to write down this day so many times I’ve probably forgotten; I’ve promised myself that I would. I wouldn’t want to forget the small details, or more worrisome the big ones. What day it was I can’t remember exactly or even how many years ago it was, but I certainly remember answering a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize.
As I walked out the door, I said, “Ok… ok… ok…”
I can remember the feeling, as though my life before this moment had been some cloudy distant dream or endless reruns on the television. Then it was quiet except for my own wailing, the smell of the yard and the feeling of the sun.
“I’m coming home,” I said to my mother on the phone, “I’ll tell you why when I get there.”
During the drive, I listened to the Arcade Fire Funeral on repeat; my only CD turned out the foreshadowing after the fact. My parents’ house, as I was growing up, always felt like a white walled and carpeted prison. I would sometimes lie down on my back staring, up at a light on the ceiling, wishing to be anywhere else but with nowhere to go. I was always prone to sadness and anxiety, walking away from parties my friends would beg me to stay. For some reason, I never believed them.
“He’s dead,” I told her as I walked into her room. “Oh my god,” my mother replied.
I wasn’t going to go to work that day.
When I was 19 I had realized that I was going nowhere. I barely made it through high school and the loneliness hadn’t subsided. Making friends was alien to me, and I could not exactly explain how I had gotten the few that I had. I had spent some time in hospitals and was tired of being unsure on my decision, and so I thought I would give myself an easy standard. Two years, and if something good happens I’ll see it to the end.
About two years later, I moved down into my grandmother’s old house in Chesterfield for a few months. I couldn’t stand Fairfax and its empty strip malls anymore. I felt bad as I would be leaving a few people behind; a friend of mine was having a rough time too. I hoped he would get better, but instead he made a mess in a bathroom by splattering his brains. I wonder if I could have done something had I stayed. I still feel guilty sometimes.
I remember I woke up with drool on my lip.
Did you know that nitrogen forces oxygen from your lungs? In 30 seconds, a minute perhaps, you become unconscious and a few minutes after that your mind starts suffering as it’s starved from oxygen. A few minutes later, you seize for a few moments, and then people start wondering why you hadn’t shown up to work that day.
I had hoped it would be painless.
Main image is Chatterton by Henry Wallis 1856