A Letter To Matthew
I realize in the grand scheme of all this that we haven't seen each other in well over a decade for obvious reasons, and so I thought that given the opportunity (and courage) I'd write to you. And maybe because nobody writes letters to anyone anymore except for maybe in those third world countries, whatever the hell that means. Nevertheless, I find my poor ass in a dark basement apartment here one town over from where home used to be before everyone split and went their separate ways after saying "enough is enough", and truth be told, very sick and very alone. This last year hasn't been a good one, something that you'll see later in this letter as I write it to you.
You know me, I've always hated change, the one goddamn thing that would do me the most good and I'm fully aware of it yet fight it tooth and claw, hanging on by the fang of complacency and complicit-ness, exempting myself from the discomfort of feeling discomfort. This is a sad letter already, I'm frightened to know that it'll only get worst, so heed my advice and buckle up for this one, pal.
There's no way to know what your days look like lately but mine follow the same routine except for weekends when Dad comes out from west of here and wants to drive north into the country to fish, always early Saturday mornings, after my friday night is filled with shots and pints from the pub across the river from where I live here. That description of Friday would also reflect well my Monday - Thursday. Get up, catch the Green Snake into Toronto with the other cattle packed on the rail cars, watch murky green Lake Ontario zip by along the Rouge Hill stop, then the burbs, then the Don and into the rail yard at Union. Work at the shop, go for a drink or two on my lunch, work at the shop, done at 5, out by 5:30, a drink or two before catching the Snake again, last station stop, bus, pub, grub, booze, home, all over again tomorrow.
There's no escaping the low I've hit. It started with a involuntary parting of a former lover and I, and then a darkened deep depression which I've yet to shake and the sauce temporarly convinces me it's helping until a sober up and feel like twelve pounds of shit in a ten pound bag. There's no more colour to the world, no taste, stale air, brake dust and I can barely breathe as it is already, yet refuse to change and I'm doing this all to myself - denying the heart and soul what it's screaming for, a move, a life-flip, some peace and goddamn quiet away from the ebb and flow of chaos while all of us on the 09:43 westbound sell what individuality we have in the name of a buck and something to call a living. I'm losing my mind.
Last January, I'd had enough one night and decided this was it, and I'd go through with it finally. I got liquired up, found one of those blue cables for putting in the back of a computer so that the damn thing can have faulty internet, took it down to the park in the middle of the night after a big one blew in off the lake and covered everything with fresh snow. Crying now, I rigged it up over the swing set which I figured to be a good enough distance from the ground that when I stepped off the swing my feet wouldn't touch and have the desired affect. Problem was that with all that fresh snow sparkling in the orange glow of the street lights illuminating the walks and curbs, and the park of course, everything looked magical and so I cried because though I couldn't bare it anymore, I was deeply saddened by the fact I could only imagine what it all would look like first thing at sunrise when the light hit it.
Crazy right? Not sad for my family, my friends, my dog, those who I'd always wanted to say something to but never did and those who always wanted to say something to me and never did and would never get the chance. The sun on the snow. Right?
As I was saying, I rigged up the ending-it cable, stepped up enough and put the loop over my neck, tightening it enough I figure, and without even thinking, took a step.
Being sparing with the details, the panic, the tears, the struggling of my hands around my neck begging for air, I remember darkness and then nothing. Then, still in the dark, I woke up on the ground, head throbbing somethin' fierce, looking across the frozen ground. Figuring I was dead, and this was my first glimpse of the afterlife, I slowly looked around and saw the swingset, the cable, which had snapped in two at the very top, noose still around my neck and tangled in the chain, and realized I wasn't a ghost and in fact had been cheated, more tears and anger then home before anyone saw me lying there a pitiful disgrace.
I called for help that morning, but it didn't change anything. The drinking kept going, the pain, the internal turmoil, anger, disdain for self and others, countless other aspects of it all and as so, a constant taunt. All this I suppose to say that I get why you did it, and never thought any less of you for going through with it. Suffice it to say this road is going to be a long road that, if I'm lucky, may end suddenly and by my own devices, as you did. Guess it took all this to see that in life one can find things worse than death.
Acknowledging the truth that things, though bleak for this dark heart could turn around, suspicious as I am of it, I'd have to reconcile with change, forging a new relationship with it, and awareness OF this, seems at this time impossible.
Wish me luck, as I wish you. And if such a thing exists still, lets call on mercy, too. I will write again soon.
Wish well regards, always.
Ben Lawrence Skinner.