Monday, October 23, 2006


Now the observers have gone. We can talk more freely.

Dropping a friend off late. (Wise men don't often open their mouths after midnight. I'm not a wise man.) Somebody quoted Steven King. "Sometimes, Death is better."

For some reason I remembered an evening at the Foresthill bridge. Tallest bridge in the state, and a place we all visited repeatedly at all hours. It's a good place to make out under the moon. Even better as a launching point for dry ice bombs. It was the perfect location for mischeif. We tossed bowling balls that screamed before they hit the water. We flew kites. We painted graffiti. We threw off a firework that lit the canyon on fire. But mostly, we sat and spoke. Hours of talk filtered down from its heights to the river below. The intense, listless, lustful, serene conversations of young minds washed out to sea.

The years gone, it remains a romantic location, but only peripherally. A charge is felt as one drives accross it on business. As if some of my molecules remember flooring the accelerator and barreling across the opposite side of the bridge, praying no one would come the other way, as a beautiful girl gripped the door handle and pretended to be something other than aroused by the wrecklessness. As if my muscles remember tensing to stand on the median and urinate, wondering what I'd do if a car came along. Crushed by impact: earth or motor vehicle? We never did get to find out.

Until years later.
I don't remember who came with me, or why we were there. But one night not long ago I went back. Not to re-live. Really it's just a nice place for a walk at night. But as we approached the guard-railed walkway, I stopped. My breathing quickened. She walked ahead until she noticed I had stalled. When she asked what's the matter I couldn't say. I couldn't think it through enough to explain myself. I just kept saying "I can't go out there." Her questions made me feel melodramatic, so I tried to get over it and go. I couldn't. It wasn't exactly anxiety. Just my blood running faster. Finally it crystalized: I knew that I would jump. I knew it. I said: "if you're OK with this being the end, let's go." She wasn't. We didn't. I lived on to think about it.

And get over it, sort of. I've been back since, and I didn't jump. But being that willing and that ready doesn't leave you. And because I know there isn't anything special about it, about me, I know I'm not the only one who innocently wishes for it, and often. Innocent because it most often springs from a sense of adventure. Sometimes simple curiosity. Sometimes fatigue. Sometimes because a certain pain builds to unbearable and it seems like you've tried everything else.

So don't begrudge me the hope that when I sometimes wish our goodbye had death to punctuate it, it's childlike, not childish. The understanding that creeps up on you and drapes itelf silently over your shoulders doesn't leave you. By the time you notice, it's too comfortable to take off.

Your heart was a bucket of water. When I pulled my hand out, the hole that was left was how much I'll be missed.


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