Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Seattle, 1993

I was there when I heard the news that he'd killed himself. I couldn't believe it as I lay on the futon on the floor of my empty studio apartment staring up at the stark white ceiling listening to the news on the radio. Time stood still briefly, like the first time that I'd seen their video on MTV my senior year of high school a few years before. The news that I was hearing then didn't seem real, in the same way that my life had stopped feeling real, like a bad joke. I walked around the block under the cover of gray, an eerie silence of mourning filling the air of the entire city, feeling something dying inside of me too. Hope maybe? I'm not sure what it was, but it left me feeling emptier, a little colder than I had before. He had represented to the world the pain and the disillusionment that I felt. He'd bared it. He'd made the world stop and look, now they'd look me over again.

I'd moved there because of him only a few months before, seeking refuge from the growing storm in my mind. I'd pictured myself meeting him in a dive bar, a random encounter, where he'd take me into his confidence, confide in me, allowing me to return the favor of acceptance. We'd become friends over beers, nodding hello to each other silently when we saw the other come in from then on, sitting and smiling over drinks at the absurdity of our common understandings. Now he'd extinguished his life, to ease his pain, but I still felt mine. What was I supposed to do with it, I wondered? I had too much to carry on my own.

I went to the store and bought some beer with the fake id that I had from a friend who'd killed himself the same way a few years earlier - heroin, then a shotgun blast to the head. I went back to the apartment in a fog where I sat alone and drank with the pictures of my dead friends lined up next to beer cans opposite of me on the small built in the table against the wall under the bare light bulb and I toasted to life. The sadness of it all overwhelmed me and I began to cry for the first time in a long while. I had to get out. I had to get away, but I had nowhere to run. It was dark out. I walked down to the water carrying the rest of my beer. The air was chill and charged with an omnipresent grief. Music poured out of people's windows, but I heard nothing. Candles lined the streets. There were vigils around town, but I didn't feel like being with anyone. People didn't understand. He had.

I sat on a bench looking out over the lights reflected off of the slick black surface of the lake toward the downtown and drank alone, like I'd been doing a lot of recently, and I talked to my dead friends and to him as the tears ran down my cheeks and I laughed to myself, at myself, and at the world. Nothing made sense anymore.

I woke up, hungover, sick, cold and shivering in the dull, diffused morning light, disoriented, searching for my life in mist coming off of the lake, knowing that I was lost.

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