the seeds, the trees

"But once in a while there's a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, 'I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.'" – Richard Bach

Tag: suicide

Things

I am better than them and not good enough for you

I have made boys love me

taken their insides out, put them back in wrong again and again.

I will not eat food in packages or with more than five ingredients

but I inhale cigarettes like air.

I practice yoga and

the light in me recognizes and honors the light in you when I fall down drunk.

My mother cut the veins along her arms

destroying them like enemies

while her blood still runs through them

I miss her when she’s around.

I took the bus for two hours alone in a state thousands of miles away

to get rid of another baby

and to stand

holding the hands of a man with a tiny Bible

who promised me because of Jesus everything would be OK.

I smoked meth and ate molly and dropped acid until

all the trees grew diamonds

and still I could not find beauty.

I am all of these things.

They multiply on the surface of my skin

and wait for me with mouths open

but they cannot have me yet.

Survival mode

I come home from the gym around 8 at night and my parents are glued to the TV, like usual, like the bugs that crackle all night long outside by the fluorescent blue death light. They’re watching a TV documentary on D-Day. It’s near the end and there’s a commanding officer, or someone like that, saying, “Freedom is not free. We pay for freedom with lives. Freedom is not free.” My dad says, to me or my mom or both, I cannot tell, “I mean, can you believe what they sacrificed?”

His voice sounds tight and scratchy and it’s obvious, to me, that he’s about to cry. He’s done this once before. Some time in my early college years he was reading some book about some war involving his idol Winston Churchill and, for some reason, as I can never imagine how on earth this happened, we were sitting on the couch together and he read something out loud and he started crying. I called him out on it and he said, choking up, “I mean, can you imagine what they sacrificed for us?”

And it really bothered me. I’ve only ever seen my dad cry twice – once after his younger brother died of lung cancer and once after mom tried to kill herself. Actually, make that three times, since she tried to do it twice. So now, today after coming home from the gym, that makes it five times in 25 years that I have witnessed and almost half of those were brought on by the deaths of strangers more than 70 years ago. And I know it sounds selfish and pathetic even but come on! That’s all you got? That’s all you can muster for us? How much do you think I’ve sacrificed living here with you, being raised by you? How can you show so much compassion for these ancient soldiers when you’ve been nothing but a brick – physically and emotionally – my entire life? When you know more about what’s going on in Chechnya than in my tiny, bubble life? Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I’m so tired of that excuse. What a cop out. Meet me half way, old man.

Anyway, so I come home after the gym, dad’s choking up about D-Day and mom’s staring blankly, crushing red wine, per usual these days. She gets up from her chair, a bit wobbly, which I can’t tell is from the wine since it’s how she seems to walk now – always on the verge of toppling over – and says, “Give me a hug,” and smiles her weird, stretched, fish-eyed smile, the one that’s taken over her formerly big-mouthed, squinty-eyed face since the overdosing and wrist-slashing. I’m extremely sweaty – literally dripping sweat – and I don’t want to hug her, although I wouldn’t want to hug her, sweat or no sweat. It’s awkward, like most our hugs these days. But it seems to satisfy her. If I had the power and turned into a couch cushion at the moment of impact, I doubt she would notice. She doesn’t notice anything anymore, like popcorn burning in the microwave or her friends’ dejected looks when she doesn’t say hi to them in the street. Things like this used to make me cry. It only happened four months ago. It’s incredible the horrors we get used to so quickly.

Whenever they find some girl who was kidnapped eight years ago, living with her captors unrestrained and almost happily raising four kids, people always say, “How did she do it? How she could possibly have survived?” I know how. It’s not a choice. Survival mode. Incredible thing. You cry A LOT and you get mad and then you don’t. Then you start making jokes, still crying on and off, of course. Then you start adapting, changing little things that you do each day – not cooking as much to spend less time in the kitchen where you know she’ll be listlessly lurking. Then you get comfortable. Then you forget. Then a piece of you dies. Then you feel the hole and you can’t remember what everything was like before it fell away. Then you feel really fucking hopeless and watch Netflix instead of thinking about your feelings. Repeat. Life goes on.

The new year

I don’t really know when everything fell to shit. It happens gradually, little silent destructions along the way, you’re facing the sun so you can’t see them, you’re distracted by the trees and smiles. But they’re happening. Little explosions, puffs of smoke and falling walls along the way. Fires and earthquakes, flashes and shudders. One morning you’re in Hawaii planting toy choy and picking lilikois and by 5 o’clock your mom’s downed 60 sleeping pills and a bottle of brandy – thousands of miles away, gone into a coma for 20 hours, ending in ICU, then psych hospital for evaluation. The next day you’re at the store buying facial cleansing cloths and a bag of peanut M&Ms, thousands of miles away, why the fuck why. Two weeks later she will come home and cut her wrists in the shower. Her wrists, then hands, then inner creases of her elbows, searching for the veins and destroying them, like enemies.

One day you think you’ve made the best decision of your life, the next you can’t remember the last time you were happy. All of a sudden everything seems to have had its last time. The last time you truly laughed. The last time you truly loved somebody. The last time you felt in control. The last time you slept all the way through. The last time you drank too much. The last time you didn’t drink too much. And it feels like it’s now a long time coming for the next time. You start thinking of everything in the past tense. You take away your future because, firstly, you have no fucking idea what’s going on and, secondly, you just assume whatever will happen is going to be fucking awful.

That’s what I’m doing right now, in Hawaii. That shit I mentioned earlier is real. Shit sucks. These days I feel two feelings, sadness and hopelessness, and I feel a thousand shades of each one. Each day a different degree. Some days are better, lighter degrees. Some days I reach new depths to the feelings. Go places I’ve never been before. I almost go where she did. But now I never can. In a way that makes me kind of mad, she took that away from me. She did what I have only dreamed of. And now everything feels like a movie. Now nothing will be the same, which may not be bad but it’s fucking scary. Now I know what it will be like afterwards and that’s all I ever really dreamed of. What it would be like after I tried to kill myself, or after I did kill myself. That’s the problem with the dream. You’ve got to be around afterwards to see it. You’ve got to stay alive.