Everybody here’s got a story to tell,
Everybody’s been through their own hell.
There’s nothing too special about getting hurt,
But getting over it, that takes the work.
— Glen Phillips, “Duck and Cover”
It’s just a matter of a time.
Seconds, really. In a matter of moments, all the pain will be over.
That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. That’s what I’m drilling into my cerebellum: This will be quick. My brain is a fully sprung coil, stretched and useless. I lack any potential energy. I have no bounce, no drive. I wander the length of the Hoover Dam in Westerville, Ohio — a 3,000-foot concrete slab buffeting Big Walnut Creek — going back and forth over it, twice, in the dark. I’ve been out here countless times with my kids. I am drawn to its power, its fury, its constancy. I easily hop the chain-link fence and walk along the muddy banks of the reservoir, pissed that I didn’t bring dumber shoes for the occasion. The place smells like rotting fish, which is somehow closer to how I feel than I want to admit. I huddle inside my sweatshirt, drawing it close to my body, which does nothing to stop anything. My body temp is dropping by the second.
There’s a Frisbee golf course somewhere down in the pitch-black where I’ve lost a disk, or four. Part of me thinks it’d be more useful for me to search for the missing disks than try to end my life tonight, but I’ve had enough. In the span of just a few weeks, I have walked my sister down the aisle at her wedding, said goodbye to my father with a eulogy that absolutely gutted me to write, dealt with the day-to-day stress of a good job, felt inadequate and worthless on a regular basis, argued relentlessly with my wife, been overwhelmed by the chaos of three small kids, wondered why they keep delaying the next James Bond movie, and — hell, I don’t know. Just name it.
It’s February in Ohio. A cold, scudding wind cuts across the reservoir and flaps at my clothes. I’m not dressed for the weather, but I hate Ohio winters to the point where I purposely don’t dress…