They don’t tell you about the dull ache inside your ribs, or that you’ll see someone with the same dishwater blonde hair across the street, and when you do your heart will leap into your throat, begging you to cry out but choking it silent with a thump thump- they never tell you that each day you were too busy to call you were too busy to write you were too busy busy busy is another minute you’ll spend crying when they’re below you in the dampness, cold, stiff, quietly uninhabited. Nobody ever tells you about the guilt-
I wanted to write a book about my college years, but found that only one event really stuck to my rib cage, and it was not about parties or cheap alcohol, although both played a part in the culmination of my early 20’s.
But I didn’t write the book. I was more concerned with what I thought in the days and weeks leading up to a friend of mine disappearing for eight months, and how we all talked about how we didn’t want to see her now that her life was that way.
And we said all of this while drinking tall boys and whisky on my dirty porch steps, and smoking cigarettes after taking bong hits.
We went camping that summer in laramie and it was just us girls, and we ate mushrooms before our hike. I melted upwards into the aspens, and my friend joined the earth as our “Swamp Monster.” We all laughed until our sides stretched and ached; I watched the stars crawl high in the sky that day, and thought about our separate bodies as parts on a spinning wheel.
And as we spun we knew a young woman was becoming a part of and losing herself to and getting pulled along on heroin, all while we got high in the summer sun.
We flirted with the idea that somehow that was just the kind of woman she became, that her dangerous waters were deeper than ours and our harmless experimentation- that heroin was somehow a contracted disease, when our recreation was simply a phase. Good thing I never tried it, and good riddance. If she could only get control of herself. Do drugs, don’t let drugs do you.
Or were we the awful ones?
Yes. We were awful for the leaving, the acceptance of her actions as the true mark of her moral state. As if any of us understands morality. My mind asks: are morals an easy tolerance of our own bad ideas? The sacred crucifying of someone else for something they did, even though it could have been any one of us clutching that edge?
After a while I conclude–No. It wasn’t just us who were awful. I don’t think we have tolerance for anyone, especially ourselves. We mask those uncomfortable thoughts, do anything mundane to push through to the next beer on a porch, and we cross our fingers that the neighbor still only smokes pot.