It breaks my heart to see that you get so angry over such little things, when they are those very little things which are sometimes the last shreds of rope that keep me holding fast to my own life. That’s part of what made me come back here, did you know? I grappled with the idea of taking my life every day for quite some time. It was my first and last waking thought during every single day of carnival season last year. It was on Ash Wednesday during one of these reveille contemplations in which I was starting to really decide on a good method that I suddenly had a breakthrough. The little inner voice of my conscience that wills me to survive, the voice of God, the voice inside my head, whatever you may call it, spoke back to me quietly and clearly—“Just get out of here. Go to Austin. Seek shelter with your friend.”
Austin was a good, immediate thought to cling to—the hope of friendlier skies under which I could live and the promise of friends who would provide support while I regained my footing. But it soon became clear that this would not be in my immediate plans.
I think that God/fate/the powers that be made me broke so that I would feel no choice but to return to New Jersey. After such a long period of existential crisis, the life with which s/he/it blessed me and entrusted to me was no longer safe in a beautiful place. You see, I could never end my own life in New Jersey, at least not in the bleakness of winter. I think, as humans, we all want to die surrounded by beautiful things. That can mean a lot of different things depending on to whom you are talking. In New Orleans, beauty permeated the very air I breathed, and ugly things were the flashy outliers. Hell, even the ugly things had their own sort of beauty about them. Even—or especially—small and unassuming things like the lopsidedly hand-painted signs on the hood-ier corner stores had that certain aural beauty of apparent human labor of love which one cannot find on gaudy, mass-printed signage. Even the carcinogenic clouds rising from the refineries to the south and west, which created the most beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi River. The refineries themselves—dark, Seuss-esque steampunk Emerald Cities rising suddenly out of cane fields and cypress stands.
Here I must search and scrounge to find beauty, even when I am sitting in the plushest of hotel suites overlooking a sea of skyscrapers, or poring over dresses in the fanciest of boutiques. I find I am somehow immune to these things; and yet, it still excites me to find pennies on the ground, watch babies laugh at blown raspberries, study the physiology of flowers or plants (whether in the ground or in vases), and feel the comfort of a warm shower. I am not surrounded by beauty here, but rather I look for it hiding. I could not find peace in dying when I am in a place that reminds me of death and taxes. Does that make sense? In such a place, the desire to flee overtakes any desire to die. Had I gone to Austin, I would have plenty of lovely warm places to go and weigh out the pros and cons regarding which one would be the kindest place to fade from the earth. Even the beauty of my own independence would have made my own home there a fine fit, perhaps in the nice relaxing oasis of my bathtub lit with mango and vanilla candles. I’d have probably lit these and even brewed a cup of herbal tea to sip as I slowly leaked life out into the warm water. Yes, I have thought this through many times; and, true to my own vanity, I had decided last year that bleeding myself out in a bathtub would be the most considerate way to go in terms of clean-up, as well as the least posthumously embarrassing in terms of the likelihood that I might shit myself somewhere in the process of things.
But I hope the reader can see this statement not as a plea for attention or sympathy. Rather, it is a suggestion; a call for stripping away the finery when it all becomes too asphyxiating. Let the bleakness give reason for pushing onward, back to where the trees are heavy with fruit and where all those sweet things do, indeed, come again.