My parents always had an indelible knack for drinking away our rent money. This ensured that we never lived in one place for very long. During my childhood we moved at least once a year. New homes, new neighborhoods, new towns, new schools, new landlords to piss off. A yearly ritual of editing down my toys, clothes, and their attached memories until there was almost nothing left. Then when I was 15, we hit an all time low. My mother worked at a bar in the “middle of nowhere” Pennsylvania. It was a bar/restaurant adjacent to a dismal, dated motel. 1950’s blonde furniture, wood paneling, basic cable TV, the works. With nowhere else to go, we would call room 21 with connecting efficiency suit 22 “home” for the better part of the next 6 months.
*Recommended: To get the total experience, feel free to press play while continuing to read:
Smashing Pumpkins – Stumbleine
I was usually left to fend for myself for the most part. I could have been starting fires, my parents wouldn’t have known. It was a pretty dark and challenging time of self exploration for me. A lot of things were changing in my life and I didn’t really know how to deal with that. I was learning who I was sexually, and learning to hate myself unconditionally. Late night demonstrations of self-examination would often commence on the pull out sofa, (my then bed). I would sit for hours with a knife to my wrist contemplating, praying to anything for the courage to press deeper than mere vanity marks. I somehow, each time, summoned an argument strong enough to temporarily curb my desires to end it all.
My nights more often resulted in hours spent singing along to “The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness.” This would both drown out the moans of neighboring motel patrons engaged in almost endless sexual coitus, while sufficiently providing me with some sense of temporary escape from my own mind. That was my life for the most part. What might seem like an otherwise insignificant chapter in the diary of my past, would prove otherwise through deeper reflection. It was a time of self-reinvention and discovery after leaving my previous life miles behind in the past. This would be the year I would find myself through the eyes of another and lose my virginity to may things.
I had no close friends having just moved to this place, so when I met “Robbert”, I welcomed him into my life with undying adoration. He was 18, and a god in my eyes, embodying everything I wanted to be. He lived just down the road from the motel. Despite our age difference, it felt as though we were intellectual peers. It was a random sequence of events as to how we actually first met, none of which is important. What was important, was that he made me forget the world I lived in. A libertine stranger, and yet, somehow trustingly beautiful to me. He was always back-lit, standing in the sun of my mind. His soft chestnut hair fell like satin, abbreviating his smokey hazel eyes, framed in soft sun-spotted isabelline skin. Skin that I just wanted to feel next to mine.
Robert had dropped out of school at 16, the same prison that I was now going to and would also later drop out of at 16. He was tired of being harassed and ridiculed, much like I was, and felt alone and under-appreciated. I saw myself in his eyes when he would tell me his stories. He didn’t really express any plans for the future and I didn’t care. I only cared about being with him right then. Albeit brief, this romantic relationship was extremely significant and meaningful, but only lasted for a few short weeks. It was just one of those things I guess. No real beginning. No real end. My life, at that time, was essentially hopping from one obsession to the next as to distract myself from the fact that I was basically homeless and alone. I would have entertained anyone’s company if it meant escaping that reality for even one second.
It was around this time that a girl named “Michelle” started working at the restaurant as a cook. There was a small one-bedroom cabin behind the restaurant where she lived. It was only a few short steps from my temporary door to hers. This would be my new hangout for the months to come. I would anxiously await her breaks when she would come home to tell me about her day. We would talk about the restaurant, my parents, guys, and everything in between. Michelle was in her mid twenties, but once again, I felt like we were intellectual peers. She provided me with a temporary escape from this dreary setting. I guess I did the same for her. We were playing “house”. I would spend most of my day rearranging and cleaning her place, trying to make it feel more like a home with little touches like fresh flowers I would pick from the nearby woods. I enjoyed her company because other than the occasional bowl, she was always in a sober state of mind unlike my parents. She was someone coherent that I could relate to.
Michelle and I became very close, like brother and sister. The closer we got, the more she opened up to me. I’m not sure if I was intellectually capable of comprehending the extent of everything she told me, but I must have at least been able to seem as though I did. I’m not even certain how I reacted, the day she confided in me that she had been raped, but I know I will never forget every detail. He was a long time bar patron and I knew this man personally. My parents were somewhat close to him and his wife. He always made me feel uncomfortable and uneasy when I was around him, as though he knew I could see straight through him. His hollow, dead eyes always sent shivers down my spine. He reminded me of my step father actually, venomous and instinctively hateful with malice intent. He was just one of the first in a long line of the many monsters that would poison my stories and teach me not to trust “men”.
He followed Michelle back to her house one night after work. He forced his way into her home and onto her bed. She told me she didn’t know what to do so she just eventually surrendered to his advances and laid there perfectly still, praying for him to finish. She described every vivid detail to me, the things he said, the way he moved, the thoughts going through her mind. He acted as though he was doing her a favor. I just sat there, confused, and listened while she cried. I want to say, looking back, that I begged her to report this to the police but I know she never did. I’m sure that to this day, he still sits on that same bar stool, completely unaware of the pain he caused. Michelle wasn’t his first, and she wouldn’t be the last.
That night Michele and I went for a drive in her car, as we often did after work. We drove perilously at top speeds for hours on steep, winding, unguarded dirt roads that overlooked the river. We were silent for the longest time. All the words that I so desperately wanted to say, words of comfort and solace, were all stuck at the bottom of my throat, pushed down by the cold night air I was so desperately gasping at through the passenger side window. She just cried, tears streaming down her face, and I knew what she was thinking. After the longest silence she muttered; ” I always think about driving right over the edge and ending it all.” I guess I just nodded. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t really react. I didn’t try to talk her out of it or reassure her that we had so much to live for, because I didn’t even believe that. I didn’t really care what happened at that point. I was so young and already so tired, defeated, and confused. I just started to cry, accepting whatever choice she decided for us.
I could have died that night, leaving my fate in her hands. Years later I still find myself in that same car, riding down the back roads of my mind, overwhelmed and too exhausted to care about what happens next. Depression is like that. There is no rationale or reasoning with what’s right or what’s wise. You just feel at ease with giving in and letting go. I write now to let these dark thoughts out and maybe connect with anyone else that might find inspiration in my story. Maybe they will see that they aren’t alone, or maybe they will see that they don’t have it so bad. Someone might also have it worse but they still enjoy the honesty and escape into another person’s madness and find entertainment in seeing my personal demons on display.