“There are some nights when The Doors are the greatest band in the world.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Strange nights follow me while living in the Portland area, most of which are uneventful with just adventures to and fro looking at long abandoned timber operations and majestic waterfalls that seem to erupt from the mountainside. The wheels of my car spin faster than the wheels of my brain at times, and then I pause and let my brain catch up to where my wheels are going. It has been an absolute sensory overload at times, the strange and new of everything buzzing in my head. It’s a lot for the blonde girl to take in at times, and honestly, it has been a bit frustrating. The only writing I seem to get done is accomplished between one and two am and my sleep cycles have been so freaking out of whack it’s not even funny.
If this sounds like whining, it’s not intended to be. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Sitting here in my sweat pants listening to The Soft Parade by The Doors makes me realize what life is all about, pain and expression. Maybe that’s a stretch, the song Touch Me is a bit brash, but at the same time, it was popular, only because it lacked depth (or at least that’s what I’m guessing). If anything, The Soft Parade has always been, and always will be my absolute favorite Doors album, only because most people hated it. That’s what I like about it. Jim at his absolute armpit of life. It’s actually so bad it’s good.
If you could take a can opener to the skull of Jim at that point and time in his life, what do you think you’d find? The need to rhyme and dance around? The need to be chemically altered at all times just to get through life? An insatiable need to be the life of the party, but never enjoying the party? Miserable, mentally miserable.
“We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary, pain is more terrifying than anyone else can inflict.”
(It’s been a long time coming that I’ve been trying to write this post. Since 2011 actually)
“The man is at the door.”
I was upstairs in the extravagant house that I was living in on a golf course in South Carolina when the message came through. It wasn’t my house, it would never be my house, I just had the privilege of living there for a while. Sure, I was engaged to the guy that owned the home, but it didn’t make it my home. It would never be my home. It’s sort of like renting an apartment without the noisy neighbors. You never feel at home, you’re just living.
A simple message on a primitive smart phone. “Virginia.”
Puzzled, I overlooked the message and went back downstairs to practice our foreign language program the fiancee and I were taking. Being deluged in learning German made me forget all about the cryptic message that came through on that cursed high tech device. I thought my life was complicated. I had to learn foreign languages to enjoy a vacation and had to worry about stuff like international driving permits and the manner in which to conduct myself in a foreign country. Yeah. My life was really difficult. I didn’t pay rent. I didn’t pay for anything except my car note (and I had a damn nice car). I didn’t even cook. Yeah, a really complicated life.
“Virginia. That’s close to South Carolina, right?”
The next message came through as I was about ten minutes into my German lesson, and the fiancee, which I’ll just refer to as “ex”, was less than pleased. “Who keeps messaging you?”
“An old friend.” Back to German.
We finished German. Worked out. Ate dinner.
“Have you ever been to Williamsburg?” Another haunting message.
I had to respond, primarily because I’m a narcissist and like to pepper the world with useless knowledge about me AND it seemed like if I hadn’t been there, I’d just seem lame. I lied and said I had been. Fact of the matter is that the letters on the other end of that phone and I had been talking for probably two weeks, and there was something strangely melancholy about the messages over the span of that time. After going almost eight years without speaking to each other, he was reaching out to me.
Why? I don’t know. I knew there was something challenging his deep mind. Have you ever looked into a puddle and thought that it was just a puddle then tried to walk through it and found yourself pecker deep in water? Yeah, that was him. Fun on the exterior but inflicted with mental burden and pain that I, to this day, cannot comprehend.
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster….for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
After about the seventh message of the evening, I felt like I needed to extend some sort of cyber hug making sure everything was okay. The ex was getting a bit perturbed with my constant preoccupation with my phone, but I wasn’t trying to being rude. I was fully engaged in our studies, our dinner, our evening in general, however I had an absolute gut feeling that something wasn’t okay. Not between the ex and I (aside from him being a bit irked by my phone usage). Things were not okay in Virginia.
The week leading up to this was littered with messages between he and I about his upcoming birthday. Turning 30 wasn’t becoming of him, and although it’s a godforsaken milestone to take on, there’s no avoiding it. It happens. I wasn’t there yet, but for some reason he was terrified. My response of “you don’t have a choice” didn’t resonate in a pitch I had wanted. Actually, it sort of fell by the wayside and I got more complaints about birthday woes. I never understood how people designate their happiness with their age. Whenever there has been an inquiry as to my age, I’ve been predispositioned to saying “old enough”, however, for him “old” meant something other than an ability to do fun adult stuff, it mean adult stuff.
Sitting in this apartment slightly outside of Portland, Oregon it’s 2:30 am. I have special headphones on as to not disturb my roommate (it’s her apartment, she lets me crash) and a beer with a straw. I’ve already slept a solid six hours and my mind is in high gear. Syd Barrett is now caterwalling in my ears, changing gears from Jim Morrison. All I can think about is that last text that I received that evening in South Carolina. It haunts me. I’ve done bad things in life, like almost killing my dad in a stupid car crash, but nothing haunts me more than that night. As expressed before, I’ve been struggling with this since 2011. Almost six solid years of waking up at night wondering if I could have done something different.
“Do you ever play Angry Birds?”
The message popped up on my phone. The ex expressed disappointment again, and I pretended not to care about the message on the phone. Acting has never been my strong point, and especially in this circumstance. It was bedtime, I was tired. No excuse really. I could have very easily responded and said “go the hell to sleep.” I didn’t. No response from me. It was more of a self preservation for me, I knew the “ex” wasn’t going to deal with me messaging much more. I looked at that phone, looked at that message at about 11:15 pm, plugged in the phone and walked away.
The next morning, nothing.
No Angry Birds.
No talk of being 30.
“I’m disappearing, avoiding most things.”
I had a Nissan Maxima at the time. I remember getting a phone call and sitting down next to the car and falling into a puddle of tears upon the news. My friend in Virginia had been found in a non living condition. I sat in the driveway, in a white dress, on the ground, leaned up against that wretched machine. My back against the quarter panel, as dirty as it was, I didn’t care. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t sit down. I wanted to thrash and break things, but at the same time every single bit of energy I had was being expended on emotional turmoil. Could I have done something different?
You want to talk about a mental funk, you have no idea. I’ve been there for six years. Was there something I could have done different? Is it my fault? It’s almost as if somebody has requested you to throw out a life preserver that you have in your hand but you just sort of turn your back. It was a volatile situation and I ignored it. I ignored it because I was too self involved. I was too worried about learning German, too busy eating dinner, too busy catering to my own selfish needs to care for another person. Granted this person had been out of my life for a while, when someone turns to you for help you fucking help.
The moral of the story is, although it’s not a noxious tumor growing out of your testicles or a mysterious blood disease, it doesn’t mean that it’s not equally as deadly. Mental health is just as dangerous as any sort of physical health. (Just to clarify, I’m fine, don’t get excited, there are no ropes, sharp objects or anything like that.) Too many people focus on diseases that they can actually see – you know the ones that have gone through Chemo, those that have Parkinson’s and shake like a leaf, those that can’t contain their own bowels. It’s easy to sympathize with those that you can put a visual on.
Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees.
Some say hindsight is 20-20. I never understood that. I wish I could do something different, maybe everything for that matter, but that wouldn’t leave me where I am right now. The twinkling lights over the Columbia River of Camas, Washington seem like they’re winking at me, almost encouraging me. I’m no longer living in a posh house on a golf course. I’m flat broke, but this is where I am, listening to The Doors, pondering what life is all about.