We were kids, and it was all just in good fun. We ran around a neighborhood that we’d laid claim to as our own. It was our plot and place, and it was our time. Nothing could stop us. We were on top of the world. Until we weren’t. It was the epitome of living in the moment, and we cared for nothing else other than our current experience. So we loaded up on love, and loaded up on drugs, and loaded up on mistakes, and loaded up on memories. It’s taken me years to unload the baggage and make peace with them.
Back then all we wanted to do was have fun, and we often had too much fun. We all came from pretty decent lives, and we lived in decent neighborhoods, but we just weren’t getting our fix from the daily routines set forth by our conventional society, so we embarked on an adventure to cut our own paths. We drank lots of beer to stay hydrated, and we lit the way with cigarettes. At the end of most days when everyone else went home and went to bed, I still hadn’t had my fill. There was something void inside, and I needed more to fill it.
So I did what any rational teenager does: I started smoking meth and dropped out of high school.
And then I met Cassandra.
In the above picture on the left, behind the plume of meth smoke, is a big green beach towel. It was that green beach towel that I had draped over me in a spun out craze as I hallucinated shadowy figures outside of my apartment window when she entered my life.
Before her I had no reason to live. Meeting her was the first time I could recall stopping dead in my tracks and knowing that I had found my reason to live. I never had the courage to go out and find purpose or meaning, it had to find me, and she did. She was the only person that could have broken the spell and got me out of the wretched pit of inaction, and she did that too. Soon after we met I left with her and we started a life.
“True love, like any other strong and addicting drug, is boring — once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome… except, of course, to those who share the kisses, who give and take the caresses while every sound and color of the world seems to deepen and brighten around them. As with any other strong drug, true first love is really only interesting to those who have become its prisoners.
And, as is true of any other strong and addicting drug, true first love is dangerous.” – Stephen King, Wizard in Glass.
The drugs got worse, and the nightmare more horrific than I care to describe. She left my life as abrupt and unexpected as she entered it. And whereas on the day I met her I sat mouth agape on a bed knowing I’d found my meaning, the day I found out I’d lost her I sat against a commercial kitchen wall devastated with my head in my hands.
And I can cry about the way things turned out. I can cry that I have a college education that I will never be able to use in the professional world because I wrecked my integrity with felonies. I can cry about losing Cassandra. I can cry about a whole lotta things, but it won’t do a bit of good. As Willy Nelson would say, “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
I chose this life. This was what I wanted from day one. For a long time I struggled to cope with the pain and the pressure of it all. I made decisions that I wanted nullified, but the world doesn’t care about remorse. The only salvation I can find is through making peace with myself.
Sitting where I sit now, this is what I want. Every tear dropped, funeral attended, all the time behind bars, and passed out in bathrooms with a belt cinched around my arm with a needle still hanging from the vein as I laid dead on the floor: it was all worth it.
Today was the sweetest day. Yes, I had to die first before I could learn how to live. And I’d die that death a thousand times more if that’s what it took to get here.