Monday The 13th

Remember when you were the only one to approach me on my first day of 2nd grade?

Remember when we went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater like, 7 or 8 times?

Remember when your parents got you all the best GI Joe stuff for Christmas?

Remember when Like A Virgin and Stray Cat Strut possessed you?

Remember when you were the closest thing to a sibling I ever knew?

Remember when we stole handfuls of Jolly Ranchers and Bazooka gum from the 7-Eleven and then played Gauntlet in the corner until all of our lunch money was finally dumped into that machine? Karate Champ and Tron also sat inside that store and they both gobbled up nearly all of our filthy lucre.

Remember when we actually had girlfriends in the 6th grade?

Remember when you had your dad’s little mustang then that badass black Honda Prelude then the Mitsubishi Eclipse, and then the Acura? Though my favorite was the 5.0, hands down.

Remember how you would drive like a damn maniac up and down Beaverton Hillsdale Highway?

Remember when we were the best of friends, bound by genealogy and our desire for pure escapism?

Remember when you were tailgating so bad that 2 different drivers turned around to flip you off in the same day? To your incredible disbelief, I might add. I wasn’t surprised in the least. 

Remember when we used to watch X-Files every Sunday night?

Remember our laughter and frustration? How it would either bind us or break us? Burn us or make us?

Remember how you showed me how to inhale Camels behind the convenience store?

Remember how your basement was a den of debauchery and how your older brother would supply us but also torture us with his assholishness?

Remember getting older than teenagers and realizing the world wasn’t just some playground where we could just play through until recess was over?

Remember that one day when someone found your shoe stuck in the brush along the railing of the Vista Avenue Viaduct?

Remember that one day I got a call from my favorite little sister crying into the phone that you were dead?

Remember your wonderful family and life that was apparently staggeringly dark and lonely?

Remember that day when we all became staggeringly dark and lonely because you leapt into the nighttime skyline on your way home from work?

Remember the party I threw at my house for you because your parents didn’t recognize suicide as a reason to celebrate your beauty, laughter and significance?

Remember how confused, guilty and wrecked everyone was while trying to party and lie to ourselves that it was all going to be ok?

I remember it like it was today.

Because it was today.

But today we’ve all soldiered on in both your honor and our regret. We’ve all gotten on with our business while you still linger in our heads, still floating above Jefferson Street and permeating our dreams the day before Valentine’s Day.

The Best of Laughter and the Girls of Marquette

There are 10 major bridges in Portland’s city center and my best friend of almost 20 years jumped from one of them and died. This was nearly a decade ago and he actually chose a bridge that isn’t one of the big 10, it was instead, the Vista Avenue Viaduct. A beautiful, narrow, Gothic arch bridge a hundred feet high and nearly a hundred years old. A bridge that crosses over nothing but pavement. Smart, I suppose, water isn’t nearly as fail-safe as a two lane street and some train tracks. Not so smart or charming was the fact that hundreds of people before him had chosen that very Vista Bridge to “catch the bus”. So many, in fact, that it’s been called Suicide Bridge ever since I can remember. He leapt from it in 2001 and since then, never has a day passed where I haven’t both cursed him and shared a laugh with him.

Recently, another good friend of mine and a man whom I shall always consider one of the funniest people I’ve every known hurled himself off the second tallest bridge in town and left behind 2 exceptional young children and scores of people who adored him though probably never saw it coming. The river below is fast and cold, not unlike how the world can be, and sometimes dying takes just as much determination as it does to continue getting out of bed each day.

Suicides are sometimes planned for years, always a quiet nagging, that little escape route waiting to be played like the perfect card you never want to mention, When every day grows unbearably heavier than the day before, when all the bottled pain and swallowed frustration finally becomes a fight that can’t be won, where no solution exists other than taking the path of god. I can only hope that every person who ever took their own life finally found some of the peace they were seeking. When someone says committing suicide is selfish I want to punch them in the neck. There are few things more selfish than denigrating someone who obviously had a hell of a lot more pain and darkness in their soul than someone blithely passing judgment would even begin to understand. Each spirit varies in thresholds; some of us just break at different points than others. Tragically unfortunate for those left behind, I resoundingly agree and the weeping and guilt comes in sudden and furious bursts to remind me of that. Stupid, yes, selfish, no.

Every time you make and break a date, a meeting, a drink, a dinner or any other occasion to meet with those you admire, enjoy and love, you’re risking never being able to share laughter with them again. Make the time to spend with these special people because those experiences may be all that we take with us when we die.

Go Golden Eagles. That will be explained later.