This was, I think, around four months after we started smoking. It all started off naturally enough – explosions of teenage vigor in experimentation, lungs and cones made from empty $1.50 Coca Cola cans down by the creek after school, holes punched with Mum's kitchen knives. Ignoring the aluminium threat of Alzheimers before an afternoon of bad television or knife-cheating on foreign Soldier of Fortune servers. Just dead Ramones, just living for the soft static kick of electric feedback and brain-buzzed loudnights. Everything was so straight forward. At school you pretended to listen, and six hours shot by five times til freedom. We were invincible and the weather was blessed and an almost holy holy ghost obsession was dripping from our pores. It was, I think, summer '05 and we were kicking down fences and running running running. We were young. We took the endless sucker punches to brain cells which were at that point in time far too abstract, far too infinite. They existed in the same sense that gravity exists – invisible but, presumably, always there. Hour long bus rides to far off lands, to crawl over the same well-trampled grass to the same state-looking houses open to the public, fifties and foils only, trying not to pay with change, too scared to cause offense or fuck with what seemed like our connection to this wonderful wide ol' world, so big so big and oh so fucking majestic. Our fear of the keepers of our habit, their almost aposematic ways of dressing and talking. Their aversion for anything resembling customer service in the parts of town where we never knew anyone, has never before had occasion to hit out into. And we would talk shit on the bus, just to catch the time. White noise to fill the stale emptiness, a distraction from the way you could see the dust particles in the shafts of light, and just how terribly impermanent it all made you feel. And we would talk about anything, composing what we were sure were symphonies of dialogue, knives to time.
“Dudes who catch the second bus when there are two leaving at the same time are making a statement. They are the laconic, time-less coyboys of our age. They simply do not and can not give a fuck. This is their identity, and they cling to it, damn the consequences”.
“And lonely, overweight people should get dogs. They will have to walk them, and lose weight. They will feel loved. They will love. They will meet other people at the park. This is flawless. This is what you would call killing two birds with one stone or getting two birds stoned with one joint, depending I guess on how old you are and your relative subcultural capital”.
Days seem to melt, from this kind of psychic distance. There are devils in the detail. We were running backwards down hills to feel our hair in our faces, and we were leaning with intent to fall. There was a girl we knew, and she'd never got high before, and so we said, but we must! She was older and in her lap lay promised lands, and we were all sweat and breath and muscle tension around her. She was wonderful, and we were secret contest scheming to claim her, pink-laced skate shoes and all. She was not scared. She lay herself open, overflowing, bubbling from the attention. Not realising her future as little more than the epaulets on some shitty kid's jumper. Little more than a story told on slower bus rides. She wanted to get wasted. Get cut. As far as all other nights go, this was infinity. This was just like any other night, at her shitty top story flat down a gravel and weeds driveway east of Central. We came prepared with junk food and indoor, diabetes clearly the least of our worries. We sat down on rugged couches, and watched bad music videos. We passed around the anodized purple and silver cone. We said things like “it's cut” and “out of it, man”.
My heart pounded.
My heart pounded.
My heart pounded.
My head screamed.
Pins and needles sung from the very back of my brain, and thoughts rushed like a cracked damn. I felt sick. I felt everything. I looked in the mirror and saw myself as an eight year old boy. I felt sick. I felt so, so sick. I thought about life, and I thought about thinking. I was smoke haze and panic. The room spun, but everyone else was still. They smiled and laughed and threw food at themselves and complained about dry, dry mouths. I panicked about every single thing that had ever and would ever happen to me. My brain spat at me.
Everything hated me.
I was collapsing inwards. It was not like, ‘do you every like, think about thinking man’, it was like ‘oh shit oh shit I never thought about life ////////// my own consciousness ///////// the universe //////// I am a voice inside my own head head spinning in circles, I cannot fucking handle this kind of thing right now shit shit. I am me’.
God, I thought, must hate me. I am lost and so fucking alone. This is maybe divine intervention, assuming there is a God and he is one vengeful spiteful kinda Old Testament mother fucker who just wants to fuck us up for being pathetic humans, I thought. Life weighs too much, I thought. Don't panic don't panic don't panic I thought, for three hours.
And I panicked. I didn't sleep. I was, mentally, out in a desert – as if every single second of my life up until this point, this fucking goddamn whatever you call it, that fell down on me in this shitty fucking cursed room in this bastard town, had been severed from me. I had no memories of anything before this.
“Pass the cone bro”
“Aw, shit is cut. Yous got any left?”
“Nah, bol. I'm pretty wasted though, eh”.
Nothing. I remembered faces, pin numbers, email addresses, but nothing that had actually happened. This is to say, I was fucked. Comprehensively. And, still the next day. I was trapped. I had no idea what to do with my mind for 18 hours a day, now that I was aware of it's presence. I forgot, in totality, whatever it was that I had used this foreign, screaming internal voice for in the preceding years of my life. Like I said, I was fucked. This was an unanswerable question, the sort that flings confusion like tar in all possible directions. Every time I thought about this, I was sick. I thought about the days that stretched out ahead of me. A constant nausea washed over me. I had no escape and besides, no idea where I was (metaphysically speaking). I looked around my room and saw everything far too clearly, like it was over-bright and hostile. I couldn't explain everything. I did not think this was the sort of “self discovery” that anyone had in mind. I saw days stretching endlessly, forever. I could not escape my own life, and it terrified me. I was constant panic and sweat and nervous piss and no sleep and night tremblings and mental connections gone horribly fucking wrong. I was floating way way above everyone, when all you really want is two feet stuck firmly to the ground, and you hope and you pray, you even goddamned pray, with no success. I was internal screams and I realised that '05, it was not such a great year, any. Externally, maybe, I was the same. I couldn't tell anyone. They would lock me up somewhere, shit, this was all far too giant and looming for me or for anyone. I had no idea what anxiety disorder or panic attacks were, and everything was through a screen of surreality. Memories of dinner with parents at a Mexican restaurant still feels like tacks on my brain, the same with days at school. 6 hours is bigger than space when you're taking it each second at a time, making piles and stacks of saved up seconds to call a minute, an hour, lunch time, home time. Endless days stretching out forever. I quit.
I quit smoking anything. I quit going out. It all meant nothing, is what I thought. I discovered, somehow, that drinking was pretty much the best thing I could do. Alcohol to kill the brain / pain. I spent far too much time drunk. I learned not to think. Not to feel. I was anhedonia and I was coping. I read about anxiety and I identified. I read books and forgive myself. Wilbur Smith saved me when I was fifteen. The words harden the fuck up took on a post-ironic, First XV Rugby Team-Free meaning, and I suppressed. I was floating and alone but I was rational and drunk and with these bags of sand I saw that all that remains is to get used to life in the low oxygen disconnect. To know about neurochemistry, and hit out. To tell know one. To evolve. To realise that life goes on, and soon enough you slip back to being just another face. Things will always get better, that kind of positive shit that always seemed so cliché seems to hold true. Maybe, I thought, I have grown as a person. Maybe, I think, 2005 was an okay year.