I Didn't Get Out So Easily
It's 5 a.m. and Holden won't sleep. We've been trying to do this "sleep training," or rather Justine has been talking about this thing called sleep training, which she read in the baby-raising bible What to Expect When You're Expecting, which is, like, this War and Peace-sized volume of how to raise the perfect kid. Except ours doesn't sleep, at least not through the night. Which makes it rough, since yesterday was such a lousy day--the rain and cold, the fog, everyone sick, running around trying to get this house in order, hamstrings pulled so bad, can barely walk. Kind of maddening. And there's other shit too.
Since this is such a public forum (and apparently people are reading this, which makes me believe I should temper my most flamboyant remarks), I can't name names, not that anybody would know whom I'm talking about. We can just leave it as someone who I thought made it out, turns out they didn't.
Most of the time I think I got out too easily, leaving what happened in the '90s in SF behind, like an off-color punchline at a long-ago Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, I made it out in relatively one piece, most of my head still about me. I didn't catch anything. I've got my livelihood. I've got my...career. I've got the kid and wife, the house. I am pretty busted up from the accident, but that was from the accident and not from the drugs, or maybe it is all tied together, a certain way of living. I don't know. But I left a lot of people there. And it sucks. Because they were my friends, my family, and even when you do come back, you rarely come back all the way, and maybe I didn't either.
There's something about being awake when everyone else is asleep that I've always loved (maybe that's where Holden gets it from), a calm, a peace, a...serenity...that I don't find elsewhere. In Berkeley, we live by the train tracks (at least for the next few weeks), so I hear the freighters rumble by all through the night. It's a comforting sound, reminds me of being off Third Street at three in the morning, pumped full of chemicals and rock 'n' roll, and I'd be alone then too, even if I was with other people, because when you are as addicted as we, you're always sort of alone. Climb up to the roof. Hang out in the bathroom. Lie on the cot you dragged up the dead-end stairs. Doesn't matter. You stay awake for so many days, you enter this strange hybrid, neither conscious nor un-, not dreaming, not lucid, just sort of floating through space. I can still touch that sensation in the middle of the night.
Maybe that's romanticizing things. I've had people read the memoir, people I respect and who were there, who say it romanticizes that time, and I've had others, who were not there, who say it is so dreadful that it's hard to read. But universally everyone loves the writing. What's that say? Besides everyone's a critic? I don't know.
But I do know the book lives for me, and that it's only a matter of time before it is published. And that will take away the "sadness" for a while, a day or two. Hell, maybe even three. But it'll come back. And that's because of what I left behind there, which tugs and pulls, and it's more than friends or lovers or family. It is time itself.
6:30 a.m. and Holden has finally fallen back asleep. Justine is asleep. The sun is coming up, and soon it will be time to let out the chicken. It used to be "chickens," plural, but a raccoon got the other one a couple months ago. We used to have four chickens. Chickens are very territorial, predatory; they feed on the weakest. Pecking order. We had to give two away or they'd get killed. Now we are down to one. One very mean chicken.