A Season in Hell- Rimbaud
The angels sweetly reasonable song rises from the rescue ship – it is divine love – two loves! I could die from earthly love, die of devotion. I’ve left souls behind whose pain will grow because I’ve gone! You chose me from among the cast aways. Of those who remain, they are friends, aren’t they?
I wish I had only spent one season there, but it has been a cyclical thing for me. And this cycle of destruction and chaos would stay with me for years to come. And even though I had just tried to killed myself, it wasn’t even the beginning of my destructiveness.
By the time I met Erv in my sophomore year, I was past “comfortably numb” and well into destroying this thing within me because I couldn’t be what I was raised to be- a white girl and I had no idea how to be and had been taught that it was a bad thing to be what I am – a Black girl.
I even had finally had some mirroring through the Minority Academic Achievement Program through Dr Staley and Ms Jenkins and the students who were in the program, but I might as well have been an alien to them. I know I looked and acted weird to them and I had no idea how to relate to them so I stayed around the people I knew how to relate to.
And yes, it was refreshing to be around white people who never said the words nigger, coon, Oreo, zebra or make jokes or disparaging remarks about Black people. I was around people who had been around the world and who had spent time with people of color. So they were much more tolerant than my old Rushford friends and acquaintances. So it was nice to not have to hate the color of my skin for the first time in my life.
But the damage from how I was raised was deeply rooted and I was writing from a very dark place.
So this is where pick up the story. Where we get to the point of my friend leaving with some random dude and me being like ” ok… Let’s do shots and go back to your house and get high.”
I shake my head when I write this because I would be mortified if my daughters told me a story like this. I would feel like I had failed as a parent if my daughter was in places like this. But as I said before, I have an angel in my shoulder. Aside from being addicted to darkness and being impetuous, Erv wasn’t a person that hurt me, he just was a person in whom I saw the opportunity to escape what I was feeling at the time.
I will backtrack in tomorrow’s post because there were other things going on in my world beside him that I want to highlight from this time period but to me, at that time, he was the central focus and for no other reason than he would drive me to the brink.
He loved to climb stuff too. Which was something I could never do because of my extreme fear of heights. One night when we were tripping on acid, he tried to get me to climb some old abandoned grain silo with him. I laugh about the high level of white privilege that is exhibited by this behavior. There’s no way a group of Black teenagers could have been prowling around deserted mills in downtown Buffalo after midnight without getting arrested.
But I digress. Back then I had no idea what white privilege was or even that Black people were treated unfairly by the Buffalo Police. That would come much later in life also.
Erv was crazy and wild. I loved that wildness. Like Jack Kerouac, I have a tendency to be drawn to the “mad” people of the world. He would talk about things like drinking blood and blood rituals. And all of this stuff fascinated me because it was modeled after Jim Morrison and his behavior. And I absolutely adored Jim Morrison. He always wanted to escape through whatever drugs or alcohol was available. And that worked for me too.
He has since become of what I call those “tangled up in blue” people. Works for the government. Not what I imagined at all. But like I said, white boys can do stuff like that and the became head of some governmental agency or CEO of some major corporation. Irony.
My obsession with him lasted for about a year and culminated in my second suicide attempt. This one was better executed and planned and I almost succeeded.
It was Spring Break, right before my 20th birthday. I did not want to go home and Erv had asked me if I wanted to go on a road trip with him to Mexico or to see the Grateful Dead in Washington DC. I didn’t care what I did as long as it wasn’t returning to Rushford.
Erv was a student at Shippensburg University for that semester. I don’t really know why, probably got called home for acting crazy. Who knows. All I know is that he left for a semester and then came back.
But for this Spring, he’d been at school and we’d been talking on the phone planning this trip. He’d been up to Buffalo a couple times and the last time, he was out with me and his girlfriend, Janet and he ditched her to hang out with me.
I remember saying that I would never be stupid like Janet and fall for his games. Right? I don’t know why I was attracted to the fact that he left someone stranded at a bar late at night appealing, but I did and he talked me into planning this trip with him.
So I made the plans to go wherever with him. And that was my only plan. If this fell through, I didn’t know what I would do. So I was nineteen years old and sending money to this crazy guy in Pennsylvania for a trip to wherever. Nothing could go wrong with that, right?
Well of course, guys are guys. And if he mistreated his girlfriend, why would I think I would be exempt? He did the same thing to me that he did to her. Took all my money and left me stranded in the Buffalo streets in the middle of the night.
I walked the streets all night long to get to the bus stop to take me back to my dorm room. Which were closed for the break and no one was there. I wasn’t even supposed to be there. I didn’t know what to do.
I tried to get in touch with him for a couple days. Remember this is before smart phones and text messages and any type of instant communication. So I had to sit in my room and wait for him to contact me.
And the sick part is that he would. He’d call and tell me to meet him somewhere. And then never show. And then call again the next day and do the same thing all over again.
It’s not a good thing to do with someone who has severe separation anxiety from adoption related issues. I became frantic and obsessive.
I was also scared and alone and lonely.
Everyone was gone.
I couldn’t call my parents to come get me because I had lied and said I was spending the break with my friends.
And he was playing with my mind.
I even met his ex-girlfriend out one night and she said that he wasn’t worth it to be so upset over. She laughed and held up her pinky and said “you know what I mean.” I laughed because it was funny but also because i didn’t know/remember that about him. Whenever we hooked up, I was wasted into oblivion. I took her word for it. Sex with him wasn’t my obsession,it was just a byproduct.
After that last night meeting his ex girlfriend and being told he would come get me and being left stranded again and listening to The Rolling Stones – “Paint it Black” over and over.
I see a red door and I want to paint it black.
I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door I must have it painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black
I bought a bottle of Wild Turkey 100 proof and a bunch of boxes of sleeping pills. I knew my roommate had some pain killers that I could take to.
“Before you slip into unconsciousness. I’d like to have another kiss. Another flashing glimpse at bliss another kiss.” (The Crystal Ship by the Doors)
But I tried one last time to hold on. I had always been taught that when I felt low, I could turn to the church. God would be there for me, wouldn’t He?
I went to St Joseph’s Church on Main Street. Right across from PJ Bottoms. I thought that if God wanted to stop what I was about to do, then it would be there.
I was turned away.
The church was locked up like Fort Knox.
And the secretary told me that I had to have an appointment to see the priests.
Could t she see that I was in turmoil and needed help right now. I was in the middle of a spiritual crisis.
I was about to kill myself.
Over a stupid boy that I barely knew. That’s what I had convinced myself then.
Now I know it was much, much deeper than that. Erv was just the conduit for what I wanted to do then anyway. All my writing indicated it.
I was obsessed with death and I drew it to me.
The Church I had believed in was locked up. I had lost my Faith. I had lost everything.
So I went and I took all those pills and drank the Wild Turkey with it because I knew that alcohol helped hurry the process along.
But I left a window of hope open because I had called my roommate, my dearest friend, Elaine, and her terror for my safety caused her to call the campus police and tell them that I was in my room overdosed. She saved my life. They later told me that it was literally five to ten minutes before I would have suffered brain damage.
In the end Love did save me.
And they threw me in the psych ward for a three days for observation.
Back again, back again, jiggity jog.