(Originally published Halloween 2005)
I’ve seen them come, and I’ve seen them go.
I had one friend who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge (what a cliché). 1979.
I had another friend who jumped in front of a train and sliced himself to ribbons. 1994.
I had another friend who hung himself on his fire escape. 1999.
And I had another friend, he was a registered nurse, so he got in a bathtub and injected himself with some drug that conked him out and then he slipped under the water and died (I had to give him points for finding such a clean way to go out). 2004.
I knew a bunch of other people who wiped themselves out on drugs and drink and despair. You couldn’t technically call it “suicide”, but it certainly smacked of self-destruction. Maybe you could call it suicide by the scenic route. I knew this one woman, around age 60 she just gave up on life. She sat in her dusty apartment alone all day with her two Siamese cats, staring blankly at her television set and guzzling down endless six-packs of tall Budweisers, washed down with Nyquil cough-syrup chasers. “I’ve been waiting all my life,” she said blankly. She never quite articulated exactly what it was she was waiting for. But I guess I kinda knew.
There’s this emptiness that can drive you nuts. Most of us are pretty ham-fisted when it comes to being philosophers or religious spirits. We read a couple self-help books, try to do a little home-made psychological therapy on our brains. And then figure: “What the fuck.” Sit there and stare in space. Watch the world go by.
You can fill up your time with an endless series of distractions: “I want a cup of coffee.” “I want a jelly donut.” “I want to buy a new CD.” “I want a cigarette.” “I want to slam a big shot of crystal meth and masturbate non-stop for 48 hours”
ANYTHING to fill that gnawing hole in the pit of our souls. (It can drive you nuts, that goddam gnawing emptiness.)
Nothing really fills it. I’ve tried “success” and I’ve tried “failure.” I’ve tried “sensations” and I’ve tried “renunciations.” Nothing quite does it for very long. It’s just sort of existential I guess. It’s not even tragic (though feel free to feel sorry for me and give me plenty of good sympathy). It’s just the goddam human condition.