Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't go and leave me...

I can't sit in chairs like a normal person, armchairs especially. Put me in an armchair, especially when I'm reading, and I'll be sitting in it like I am now: one leg dangling over the side, one foot on the floor, balancing my laptop on my right thigh, iPod wedged between the cushion and the back of the chair, elbow propped up on the other arm... and I still want to move, still want to stretch myself out over this chair. If I did not have this laptop balancing on me, I would.

There are seven people lining the wall to my right, all facing the same direction, almost if they're watching the people outside like a movie being played out.

There is one woman sitting just behind me to my left, playing World of Warcraft, and I'm jealous. I haven't touched that game in years, but it was a good way to waste an afternoon... or a weekend.

Two men on Notebooks, left and forward, one drinking Peligrino... however you spell that drink, I'm too lazy to Google it at the moment. Another man further down the line on a Mac, hunched over.

Paintings on the walls, good high ceilings, I'm sitting in an armchair on a small stage, perfect viewpoint for the rest of the coffee shop, listening to Placebo's MEDS album, which makes me think of my Placebo-obsessed acquaintance that offered up the DP for me last November, when GV8 and I were in an off-phase.

Screw this position, I'm wedging myself backwards and crossing my legs.

Oh, holy fuck, I've wrapped my power cord around my torso with my shifting. I'm as bad as a tiny (stupid) hyper-excited mutt on a leash. God, I'm a winner.

I was going to start this sentence off with "It has been an interesting weekend..." but then I realized that it's rare when I don't have an interesting (at least to me) weekend.

As some of you may remember, last night was my friend's Wake.

I drove down PCH in the rain, watching the coastline, passing Shore House, munching on some rarely bought Taco Bell. Thick clouds during the early evening, heaping fresh water into salt water, the oil barges lit like industrial Christmas trees hammered by waves, with me the only occupant in my vehicle, the car felt like an exploratory vehicle in hostile, foreign environs.

Taco Bell allowed me to pick up something I haven't drank in years: Mountain Dew.

It was a tribute, a tribute that was not only thought of by me, as it turns out.

When I was 18, I started hanging out with a group of guys once a week at an informal sparring practice at a local park.

I don't mean sparring like karate, kung fu, taekwondo, no, nothing with actual rules.

It had been a stage-fighting group before I ever came on the scene. But then that morphed into a Ren Faire fighter practice, which was then taken over by some guys who just liked to fight with practice swords.

I don't know why I took to it. But I did. Even now, you can put a three foot long stick in my hands and I can beat the hell out of someone with finesse and skill.

I had odd hobbies, I know.

That's where I met Matt. He showed up, moving down from Washington, about a year into my time with these men. I was instantly attracted to him. He was cocky and smart, good body, good face. Rebellious. We would sit in his junker of a car and play music for each other, introduce bands to each other. I kept hoping he would ask me out, but another girl dived on him with religious fervor.

The group of us, after practice, used to go to a nearby LAN cafe, chug Mountain Dew all night and play Day of Defeat and Counterstrike until 2AM, when we'd get booted out. I'd go crash with one of the guys, popping M&Ms and playing Rummy until the both of us curled up and fell asleep on his huge bed.

That was years ago.

The last time I saw Matt was at BlizzCon 2007. I have a few friends who work at Blizzard, so I am usually able to get a weekend pass to go flirt with industry men and hang out with my nerd circles.

He had changed some.


He had put on a chunk of weight, almost unrecognizable weight on his face, and had started balding badly even though he was only around 29 or 30. We chatted for a little bit, but my grandmother was in intensive care that summer (and would die shortly after that convention) and I got the phone call that prompted me to finally flip my father the bird and move out that same day.

Not well done of me, but I could not take any more stress at the time.

I found out later, talking with one of my friends that is like a brother to me, that Matt's girlfriend had cheated on him, prompting him, as he had a habit of doing, to go into a depressive state and move in with family in Washington. He was only down for the convention.

That was what he did. Physically yoyo-ing with girls. He'd move to Washington when he broke his heart in California, then move back to California when someone broke his heart in Washington.

He was always depressed.

Some of us are.

I drove down PCH, into Huntington Beach, east on Main Street, through the rain, people on either side of my car in the faux-darkness, walking to bars and restaurants, casting their colored glows onto the shining asphalt, heels splashing through puddles.

I lost myself in the rain and the dark, the neighborhood that Main Street leads into is a maze to me. Listening to The American Dollar and watching the cars travel towards and past me, lights streaking outwards, their passage echoing like a seashell held to my ear, rolling ocean of drivers in the night.

Spotted a street name I recognized, checked my compass and kept going, instinct proving true.

I passed the house, looking for the stop sign that meant parking was ahead. Flipped a quick U, doing that thing that my father lectures me will take the sides off my tires but it feels so good when my hair lifts off my face from that centrifugal pull.

Fixed my lipstick in the mirror, MAC and more MAC. Lipstick that was pointless, but I did it anyway. It's little things that keep us grounded, little things that remind us of our reality, the where and the who that we are.

I walked through the rain, jacket over one arm. I saw Fox in his suit. The years have given him a paunch, his suitjacket curving outwards over his frame, his glasses sitting on the bridge of his nose. Those are new, things that time gave him as the years passed. Ferret, my brother/friend, was outside as well, cigarette to his lips, always smoking, as long as I've known him. He looks the same. He's always looked the same. Time doesn't seem to touch him.

Hugs, arms around torsos, glowing ends of cigarettes held away for greetings.

Ferret and I talk for a bit, another man steps outside and starts massaging my shoulders by way of hello. We hug, I excuse myself inside.

There's already ten or fifteen people here. Faces I know, faces that came in after I stopped spending the majority of my time within this social circle, when Rick and I started dating, when my work schedule shifted to nights and my social life died. I was 20 when I got that job, 20 when I said goodbye to the ease and low pay of retail.

These are the girls. The boys brought them in, brought them in as friends, would-be dates, girlfriends. Lovers or fuckbuddies are rare in this circle. It's about relationships, even though the only person married in it is the alpha male of the group, Fox. His wife is a beautiful and friendly blonde, someone I've admired for years.

I look at them, their clothes, their postures. They integrated in a way I never did. This group does not eject girls when they shift from girlfriends to ex-girlfriends unless something bad happens, so most of them stay and form into this faceless (to me) female mass. Even when they get boyfriends or husbands in other groups, it seems, they always come back to this one.

Ferret's girlfriend is my favorite. She's a slim, red-headed engineer. Very practical, very funny. They've been dating for over six years now, arguing about children (he wants them, she doesn't), which stops them from getting married. Ferret is very family oriented, wants his own brood of little Ferrets.

There's an older woman on the couch in the living room, surrounded by a few other girls... they seem a couple years older than I am. Introductions are made, I do my usual vaguely witty disarming and non sequitur humor. I'm harmless, I'm not here to fight, not here to step on toes, I'm one of the guys.

Another old friend walks by, eyes glassy. He hugs me, introduces me to his girlfriend, yet another girl with another bizarre name (he never dates girls with normal names), but he's obviously distracted with his grief.

I step into the kitchen, scritch the two tiny dogs that belong to Fox's wife while talking to the people gathered around the appetizer table. It's awkward, my social position. Most of the girls don't know where I'm from, don't know who I am in relation to anyone else. I'm not part of their herd.

I'm never part of the girl herd.

Note: the rest of this post was written while listening to Placebo's Blind on repeat, so if you want my background music, there you go. If you do listen to it while reading this, please let me know how it goes. I've always wanted to set my writing to music, see how it changes the experience of the reader.

Ferret's girlfriend comes over and we talk and joke while I pet the dogs. She's been around for awhile, dated and slept with most of the main members of the group over the years, starting in high school. I always forget that they're all older than I am, late twenties, early thirties. History that I don't know about.

Ferret comes over as his mate gets distracted by another. I cock my head at him as the crowd starts flowing back towards the living room in a natural movement.

"What happened?"


"What happened with Matt? No one told me."

He gestures to the door and we step into the backyard. He lights another cigarette, starts talking. Matt said his goodbyes to some local friends in Washington, then drove out to a bridge, made a noose, tied it to said bridge, and jumped off with it around his neck.

His body was found by hikers.

I hadn't expected that from him. He had seemed more like a suicide by gun sort of guy, but it had been years, and the three other suicides this last year had been by guns, so I suppose I'm biased in my expectations.

It made me think. Matt was so very into nature, so very into being out in the wilderness, climbing and exploring, using his body. He loved the green of Washington.

I imagine him driving through winding forest roads, up the mountain of his choice, nighttime, the only car on a two-lane road, trees illuminated solely by his presence, kneeling in front of his headlights on the bridge, to see to tie the rope.

What was this, then? A quiet breath into the night, knowing these are the last few minutes you'll be breathing air, the last time you will see the sky you've spent your life growing beneath. Your last sight, look around, a three-hundred and sixty degree rotation of your body, the one-hundred and eighty degrees of the horizon, dark and unknown, moths gathering around your source of light, their hungry need and soft wings, the tiny "tink" when they bounce off the glass of your car's headlights. Gravel under the soles of your feet, each tiny rock grinding, rolling, getting stuck in the tread of your shoes.

How long did you keep that rope?

How many times did you look at it?

Did you lift it, feel the weight in your hands, the tight twine, the fibers... did you hold it to your face, inhale the scent of the last item you would feel. A simple rope, picked up in a hardware store. Did the man at the counter even know what he was selling you? Your death in a plastic bag, receipt included.

No returns for this one, though.

You put it around your neck, loose and innocent, resting against the spot where many girls have buried their faces and moaned into your ear, fingernails digging into your back. Your body has known pleasure, the fingers that tied the knots tangled in your lovers' hair, stroking the insides of their thighs, the eyes that you are about to close watched their skin tremble under your touch, hips bucking towards you, lips opening to whisper gasps.

A running leap? I'd like to think so. I'd like to think of you launching yourself towards fate, towards your next adventure, full of excitement and curiosity like you used to be.

Not broken and beaten, not like you were. I don't want to think of you like that.

I miss that young man.

I don't like to think of what happened, of the way life shaped you, the stumbling blocks that descended from circumstances, piling up in your path until there was no way but down, nothing to do but trip and fall.

They played a video, a collection of pictures of you. You as a child, you in your tux with your girlfriend, now Ferret's girlfriend, ready to walk out the door to Winter Formal. She had her long red hair piled on top of her head, ringlets around her face, beautiful. You were wearing her father's tie, a colorful mess. You two must have danced all night, met up with a younger Ferret and Fox on their own dates, causing mayhem like the three of you did. Ferret's girlfriend was sitting beside me, tears rolling down her cheeks one after the other, silent.

I watched you grow through photos, photos taken before I ever met you, a history of events and adventures, of hairstyles and wardrobe changes, searching for who you were.

I listened to your mom, the older woman on the couch I mentioned earlier, sobbing over the music, her old, discolored fingers clutching a crumpled tissue. Her son. Her son never reaching forty, a marriage she would never attend, a daughter-in-law she would never meet, grandchildren that she would never have. No more Thanksgiving dinners with you serving turkey, no shopping for ugly sweaters for you at Christmas, no phone calls just checking in.

She poured herself into you, wanting you to be healthy and strong, wanting you to be happy, wanting to give you everything she could.

But she couldn't give you whatever it was you needed. Or maybe you wouldn't let her.

I told Ferret, when we were standing in the backyard, that I meant I wanted to know what had happened to make you kill yourself, not how you had killed yourself. I did not want the images, did not want the feelings of your last moments.

I'm not that good of a friend.

He said that you had always been depressed, had been out of work, had felt like a continual burden to those you loved, felt like you'd never be able to give anything back, make anything of yourself.

It seems like such a common sentiment.

When the video finished, Fox made the announcement that everyone was going to go to a local park, probably in the rain, a park that you loved when you were alive and in California. They handed out tea lights and paper tea light holders, but I said my goodbyes and left.

I was not part of his life then, felt like it was no longer my place.

I drove through the rain, drove and thought. My wheels carried me down the freeway, my mind so wrapped in you, in life and the things that shape us, I cannot remember my drive home.

I could have driven all night. I could have taken PCH up the coast, my car cutting through the rain, music playing. I could have started a new life, left this all behind, like you did. I could have driven to Washington, could have found the bridge that you crossed. How symbolic wooden slats become when they connect two distant points.

By the time I reached my parents' house, the rain had mostly stopped. I carried my laundry inside, went upstairs to my old room and changed into my pajamas, tossed my laundry into the washing machine, then wedged myself on the couch between my mother and father, curled up under a blanket, listening to my father's breathing change from awake to asleep, then the snores.

He's getting old. His father used to do the same thing when I was younger. I remember watching old westerns on cable with him sitting in his brown recliner, the same snores climbing out of his mouth as John Wayne saved the day.

I kissed him and my mother goodnight, climbed the stairs once more, to my old room, my empty bedroom. Blue carpet, white walls, two windows. A strip of memory foam and a sleeping bag laid out on the floor for me, since Mom knows I won't sleep in the guest room if I don't have to.

I laid in my makeshift bed, navy sleeping bag with beige lining, the flattest pillow I could find under my head. I'd like to say the I spent time in reflection, pondering events and courses of action. I'd like to say many things, like that I have faith in the way things will turn out, that I know what will happen two weeks from now, that everything will be okay, that my family will not continue this sad downward spiral as we try so hard to recover from what happened in December.

I would like to tell myself that I'm strong. So many people tell me that, yet I've seen no proof other than my ability to shut off my brain for short periods of time so I can survive.

I would like to tell myself that my mother will be happy again, that life will untangle itself and she's be smiling and laughing soon.

I so desperately need to hear that this is worth it, that everything I've done, everything I will do, ensures something good. Ensures that random events created by unexpected little actions will not ripple out and destroy the good.

I'd like someone to tell me it's okay. That what I am witnessing with my parents is just a minor setback. That good people do have happy endings because they deserve it. My father has spent the majority of his adult life caring for his family and providing for all of us. He's given up so much to give us this life, to make us happy and make sure we have all the opportunity in the world. They've done everything they were "supposed" to do to "earn" happiness, and yet...


This happens. Much like it does. Disappointments as we all struggle towards the top of the water, mouths open and desperate for the crumbs of success that are tossed in our direction, butted out of the way by those with stronger muscles, stolen from when those with quicker fins dart in front of us.

I don't know what I expected.

But I do know I'm clinging to ideals that don't exist, hoping that something or someone will prove me right.

Good night, Matt.


  1. I really don't have a comment but I thought I'd stop by and let my presence be known....

  2. See...the thing I've learned is none of us get to cross the goal line, spike the ball and "be happy" because we "made it". That just isn't how it works.

    You might find this interesting:

  3. we live in a pragmatic Age - soon to be even more so.

    Grief dissipates faster here, than in Romantic Ages. The bittersweet secret of nursing a loss over a lifetime is itself lost upon those used to pursuing facts.

  4. Wow, I won't even touch this title. You've done fine.

    Even now, you can put a three foot long stick in my hands and I can beat the hell out of someone with finesse and skill.

    This explains much.
    Not sure which is more formidable in your hands. A 3' stick or a hard shell taco.

  5. Savage,

    Thank you. It's good when you're around.


    I understand it on a technical level, I can write on it, I can convince others of it... but I can't convince myself.

    I'll check out the link, thanks.


    I'd think that would probably be due to the transmission of information and the constant emotional overstimulation we, as a society, strive for, as well as the higher population we currently have.


    Aw, thanks. Just stole some lyrics from the song I was listening to, as is my habit.

    And how does that explain anything???

    Wait, is this where I say I'm most formidable with a 6"-8" stick in my hands, and wiggle my eyebrows comically?

  6. Poetry of Flesh said...


    I'd think that would probably be due to the transmission of information and the constant emotional overstimulation we, as a society, strive for, as well as the higher population we currently have. the inevitability of this progress, one can determine A Truth: This Pragmatic Age will continue until it, also inevitably, comes once again full circle into another Romantic Age.

    Only then, will luxuriant grief prosper once again.

  7. forgive my thoughts. I didnt know you were out fucking bands.

    guys that write songs
    are so alpha

  8. Firepower,

    I'm not so sure I agree that another Romantic Age will come about, at least not in the same form that the previous did.

    And I'm not out fucking bands. That'd be a horrible idea. I haven't had sex with anyone but GV8 since late November. I very occasionally fool around on a mild level, but GV8 and I aren't together and I can't allow myself to sit here waiting for a man that will not take me at the end of the day.

    He'll never choose me over his lifestyle, you know. It hurts like hell to know that.