Try Not to Destroy Your Life
A few months ago I tried molly for the first time in the bathroom of a bar in Brooklyn. I dissolved the powder in water, drank it, and waited till I felt different. A short while later, fireworks exploded all over my brain. Everything sped up, people’s voices sounded like the Chipmunks, lights started flashing. Overwhelmed, I left the bar and ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen in years.
“Kevin, wow, you look really skinny,” I said with more than a tinge of judgment.
He smirked. “I know. I had a hyperactive thyroid and lost a lot of weight.”
“I miss your curves. WHERE ARE YOUR CURVES?!”
Kevin focused his eyes on me and said, “Wait, you’re rolling right now, aren’t you?”
I paused before blurting out, “OK, yes, I am, but it’s really fucking intense and this conversation is helping me calm down, so please don’t leave me.”
“I won’t,” he assured me, rubbing my arm.
Then, just like that, everything got worse. My heart started thumping violently in my chest and I began to see shadows that obviously weren’t there. Without giving it a second thought, I ditched my friends and hailed a cab back to my apartment where I felt it would be safer. On the ride home, my scalp felt like it was an orange being squeezed with the pulp dripping onto the seats. When I got out of the cab, I took one step and found it incredibly difficult to walk. It was as if sandbags were attached to my shoes and every step I took required more energy and focus than the last.
I need water, I thought. I cannot be dehydrated right now. Otherwise, I will die.
I walked into my corner bodega, grabbed three bottles of water and made my way to the counter, still moving like a pathetic slug.
The clerk looked at me quizzically as I plopped down the water bottles.
“Um, sir,” he said gently.
“Do you need an ambulance?”
An ambulance? I didn’t think I needed one but then again I hadn’t looked in the mirror since I started rolling. If a sober person is looking at me and immediately thinking “ambulance” that means I should probably get one, right?
“Sure,” I responded with defeat. “An ambulance would be nice.”
The clerk gave me a milk crate to sit on in the middle of the bodega while he called 911. Drunk people were floating in and out, taking notice of my disheveled appearance, and laughing.
“Oh shit,” one girl with cornrows remarked to her friend. “That dude is having a bad trip.”
It took a long time for an ambulance to come. Finally, I spoke up and asked the clerk what the hold up was.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, stamping prices on boxes of Advil. “I called them twice.”
My phone rang. It was my friend Carey. I answered.
“Hey Ry, where are you?”
“I’m sitting on a milk crate in the middle of the bodega rolling on molly. They’re calling an ambulance for me.”
“An ambulance? What’s wrong?!”
“I don’t know. They just thought I needed one. I feel OK now, though.”
All of a sudden, I heard the sirens coming.
“It’s almost here, “ I said.
“Ryan, don’t take that! An ambulance costs $2,000 WITH insurance!”
“Yes! Don't go in there!”
I got up from the milk crate.
“Sir, stay put. Your ambulance is here!” the clerk yelled at me.
I continued walking outside and saw the EMT get out of the ambulance. For a moment, we locked eyes.
“OK, I’m running! I’m running away from the ambulance and going into my apartment!” I started sprinting spastically down the street. Curiously, no one even bothered to chase after me.
“We’ll be there in five.” Carey said, before hanging up.
I ran the half block to my building and waited until Carey and her girlfriend, Renee, came over. My whole body was drenched in sweat but drinking water made me feel a million times better. I didn’t feel like I was going to die anymore.
The buzzer rang and I let them up. Carey and Renee came in, immediately assessing me to see if I was really OK.
“Do you feel better?” Renee asked, rubbing my shoulders.
“Yes,” I said, my eyes involuntarily closing. “Can we listen to Cibo Matto?”
I am doing what I do best; I am running away from intimacy. I am lying in bed with someone, it doesn’t matter who, and the sun is hitting me like a scolding parent. I need to get him out of my apartment.
“I feel like I am going to be sick,” I say to him, clutching my stomach. This is a move I have perfected over the years, and it works every single time.
“Really?” he looks at me with concern. He is dumb, he is sweet, he could be good, but we will never knowwwwwwww.
“Yes,” I groan. “I’m sorry.”
He gets the message. I’m not asking for his help. He leaves and a sense of relief washes over me that feels almost better than the orgasm I had 20 minutes earlier. I feel safe again. Comfortable. Nothing can hurt me when there is no one to do the hurting.
I order a breakfast burrito and watch some Netflix. This is when I’m at my happiest. This is why I’m going to die alone.
Every time you make a decision that’s dishonest and dripping in self-sabotage, you get further and further away from the person you are and the person you want to be. In my 20s, it’s been my m.o. to experience it all. Did I even really want to try molly that night? No. I figured it would be too intense for me, but I did it anyway because I don’t want to be finished making mistakes. The bad things, unfortunately, still feel good. Except that’s a trick. They don’t actually feel good anymore. Not like they used to. Bad things can only be fun when you don’t know yourself yet. That’s sort of the point in doing them in the first place. You sample different things and find out what you like and what you don’t like, and in the process you hopefully get a better handle on your personality. It’s different, though, when you’re at the age when you already have a good understanding of who you are. The days spent pushing anything that’s real out of your apartment, the mishaps that you gleefully told over brunch the next day with your friends are no longer cute or funny. In college, people took pride in their mistakes. They wore their Plan B emergency or alcohol poisoning like it was a badge of honor. Then things changed. Or they were supposed to change. I don’t know. Not everybody gets it at the same time. Some people have a natural inclination to grow up and be healthy and take care of themselves while others just want to see how near death they can get until they feel alive again. I’m somewhere in between. I don’t want to eat kale or work out or go on hikes because, boring, but I don’t want to be a mess either. I want to be happy, I want to let someone love me, I want a dog and a backyard. Basically I want a life that feels real and earned.
I had no idea it would be this hard to fix the bad things in myself. Every day I feel like I’m falling behind my friends and missing the point, not letting the life lesson marinate. The impulse to destroy your life is strong but it can fade more and more each day. Happiness is not getting an ambulance called for you while sitting in the middle of a convenience store rolling on ecstasy or faking nausea to get someone to leave you. Not even close. Everybody deserves a life in color. Everybody deserves all the love, all the money, all the orgasms in this world. You just have to stop fucking yourself over before you get there.
Excerpt from the Novel ‘Family Life’
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