I was driving from a place to another place and my eyes were tightly closed.
Twenty one year old me. Toward Jamaica on the Clearview Expressway. Devoid of hope and needing a break. Making deals with myself and with god or whomever.
I'd lay in the tub and hold my breath until I passed out.
Or ingest more drugs than a crowd of guys my size. Not quite a party. Not quite suicide. Because on top of everything, I was a coward.
Or close my eyes while driving. This night I entered the middle lane and closed them tightly and continued driving for a count of ten. Opened them and nothing happenned. Twenty. Opened my eyes and I was in the next lane but still pretty straight. Then fifty. This could be it. Heart hammering. Hardly breathing.
The car rumbled over the shoulder onto the dirt and grass and I opened my eyes in time to avoid the overpass wall, swerved sideways and the car jumped up on the two passenger side wheels then dropped back down....SLAM. I threw it into park and saw how close I had come to the end. The end of my underachieving and worrying my parents. The end of alienating my remaining friends, and to my growing debt. My paranoia. My uncontainable funk.
I considered the lives I could have just ruined. The marble notebooks filled with songs (sans music so useless to anyone but me). The stories. The waste of my talent. The waste of your time.
I was out of luck. And out of poison.
And then the gas light came on next to the check engine light and I had no no money. And nobody. And no solutions. And no patience.
And then I hit myself in the face. Hard. Cars whizzed by and shook mine and I kept on hitting myself and without looking over my left shoulder I slammed it into drive and floored it and tires spun in the dirt and finally caught and I whiplashed back into my seat and onto the expressway, and struck myself again....hard.
.....but this is not that hard......I'm thinking......because I'm projecting the force back toward my self so I don't have the benefit of extending my arm or of torque......and so I brought my head back to the headrest and swung it forward.......BAM.......into the steering wheel. And it all went red. For a split second, I saw.....not stars.....but crimson rain, washed over the windshield. Blood-dipped glasses. A few more times until I was sweating and hyperventilating and screaming. A little fit was in order, I guess. How I drove on I do not know.
I really wanted to die.
And I really wanted to live.
The trust of my friends and family lost. My art....the thing that I would have define me.....gone. And whether it was my art or my fix, I lived torn between what I needed and what I lacked. And I couldn't keep up anymore.
As with so many of these nights, I don't know how I managed to get high and to get home. Maybe I stopped and slept in the car on a side street in Bayside. Windows cracked so a cop wouldn't get suspicious when they steamed up. Maybe I snuck into Danielle's garage and lay on the cushion-less lounge chair, rolled up in a ball shivering and crying for what felt like forever until the sun came up and it started again. Maybe I parked on 164th Street at Kissena Park, across from the scummy, intimidating dudes who sold bags of most anything from the bench inside the playground. Maybe I waited for them to leave and then maybe this was one of the nights I'd crawled around on the ground under the benches in the dark, in broken glass and loogies looking for a bag or a foil or a roach or .....lowest on the score list....some crumpled up money that had missed a wasted dealers pocket and gone unnoticed in the dark of the broken lamppost. Or some other crazy shit.
I inspected my face for a long time in the mirror. My one eye mostly closed and full of broken blood vessels. And it hurt like hell to lay down, my big face pouring off of my big head,
Here's the story others heard: A road-rager began hassling me on the Clearview, ran me off the road, got out, sprinted to my car, pulled me out and beat the shit out of me. He was huge...but I was somehow able to subdue and mess him up pretty bad. I left him there on the ground, balled up and writhing. Two good shots...one to the balls and one that probably broke his nose. This garnered sympathy and admiration I desperately needed, while avoiding (as was my way) any contest of my lifestyle. Instead of the fuck up I got to be the hero until this particular wound healed.
It wasn't truly a lie. Some anebriated and wreckless asshole HAD run me off the road. And then in a fit of rage I HAD been assaulted and struck over and over until said asshole had been subdued and I was able to escape by driving off to safety.
That's how I was able....hardly....to live with myself...because there was no one in the world who was remotely as messed up as I was. No one who would understand and no one who could help.
Everyone made me sick and I made me sick. And I would die daily. Because isolation kills.
This is the brand of lies I keep a close lookout for today. They hide in doorways in my thoughts....at the ready in case I should ever decide to run like hell (and I've got many ways to run). From conflict. From my responsibilities. Or from my past, which keeps getting further away but no less significant....no quieter.
But now there are different versions of me and at least one finds a reason to tolerate...if not respect.....even adore....every rung on this splintering ladder called mortality. Sometimes.
It takes some work. Because that version of me needs calm. Demands connection. Seeks purpose. And knows it can fuck up and throw it all away in any given moment.
This I thought about today as I travelled.
I was driving from a place to another place and my eyes, this time....were wide open.