The tattoo studio is dingy but I am eighteen, so it doesn’t matter, and I don’t feel any sense of alarm or frustration when the men are too friendly, because I am eighteen and it doesn’t matter.
Opinions were like kittens I was giving them away. A line from “Out of Gas,” inked down my bicep, one of my favorite songs, one of our favorite Modest Mouse songs, because we, Colin and I, feel so close to it when Brock sings, no, weeps, “We will come down too soon, we will come down, soon, too,” because we think we get it. After we peak and our guts itch and our heads throb that first, slight time and we will come down too soon. We never want to come down. I want to live in that elevated space a little above my forehead and to the right where my skin tingles and my pupils are black and heavy and I am light as dust. Here, where there is only blood rushing in my ears and tears welling pillowy in the corners of my eyes.
It is the very beginning of spring and my best friend died four months ago and I am sad and listless but I am in college so this is just my natural state of being. I like Steel Reserve from heavy, glass bottles, stealing playgrounds from preschoolers with my naughty nicotine addiction, and holing myself away in the dark recesses of the library basement, buzzing on Adderall and literary theory.
Colin likes to get fucked up, but he keeps to himself and he loves his mother so don’t tell anyone I said that, but I can because I am here and he is not.
One night very early on, when I am simpering all the time, and very naïve, he tells me that if you take a lot of Benadryl, your mouth will get very dry and you can see the walls move. Sometimes, we are dumb like that. One afternoon I didn’t want to be around anyone else but him because his skin is an earnest and kind wash of green, and everyone else is just a mess of features pinned to a flank of tainted meat. Not scary, just gross. Mushrooms are weird, and Colin reminds me that I am just another twenty-year-old who thinks too much about herself whenever the weather is not so nice.
When we are not so chemically empathetic and things are just not going very well, not very well at all; Colin might go inside himself for weeks, and I pine for him when he turns cold and distant. It makes me feel bad so I give him as much space as I can bear and one day show up with pilfered Percocet and we spend the night giggling in my bed; these are our moments. Something that is sad is when best friends are sometimes not each others’ best friends, as in, I fear that the space I reserved for Colin in the years following his death are not equal to the space he would reserve for me in a matched circumstance.
But honestly, am I really that sad anymore? I know he loved me, of course he loved me. It’s been almost six years, and it’s also almost been six years, but less so, than when my mum died, and it’s hard to admit that grief trumps grief, but it does.
It’s not that I’m not sad anymore. I lost a best friend and that means something, but you cannot deny that to go on the grief has to stop killing you, eventually. Don’t tell my friends, but they wouldn’t understand, because Colin’s overdose was huge and gross and scary, but was nothing compared to my next, bigger thing—as much as it would have hurt me in my gut to say that that August when it was all over.
Mostly, I miss hanging out with my friends, constantly, between classes, on the lawn and at the park and at the coffeeshop and in the library. We all disintegrated and meshed with this shared weight in our throats that made the smalls of our backs twinge and buckle. Every day on the day of this death we would rush to that park with our favorite playground, and because we are nineteen or twenty, we use it in ways it’s not meant to be used. We climb dangerously tall trees, or to the tip top of the swing set, moments away from breaking our necks, or we force our way through the needles of the conifer to huddle around the trunk, sticky with sap, and smoke joints, brushing thin, scratchy branches away from each others’ faces.
Because I don’t want to work three part-time jobs that make me feel depressed and inadequate so I can pay my rent and belong to a gym that perpetuates my body dysmorphia. I can’t stop getting parking tickets and there’s no one to tell me whether or not I should get a tetanus shot.
I don’t want to stop smoking cigarettes because now it’s going to kill me sooner rather than later, and I definitely don’t want to stop taking Molly on a Tuesday afternoon because I have a day off and the sun is shining in that way it hasn’t shined for months. I need to stop thinking about enactogens so much, because I have a career now and soon I will be boring.
I need to stop being a petulant child with an oral fixation and change my mind that it’s not that Colin doesn’t have to grow up, it’s that he doesn’t get to. Who am I to insult his memory in this way? To insult those he left behind, festering with grief? I think and read and synthesize and wake up hungover and have bruises all over my body and cry when I think about how much I love my dog.
Maybe this is just an excuse to talk about myself, but I am alive and young and you are dead and even younger than I am because you decided to do drugs, but the wrong ones. I power through and on and I am better for the fact that I don’t think about you all the time, all the time every minute, I promise.
Photo © Stephan Harmes via Creative Commons.