Walking with Mrs. Frost to where I don’t know I talked to myself.
Since I did not die and must live (I was not going to try that again), I tried to create avenues of hope. Wide ones that I could stroll without bumping into the nasties that steered me towards doom. Any thought that steadied me as I cried and walked on the ledge was welcome.
I came up strategies. Many people have asked me ’what you do plan to do?’ It was time for me to bear life.
My challenge was to not live falsely and try to not worry others. By false, I mean I couldn’t think of sunny days and meadows of flowers, images of heath and warmth, thinking that would help. It would not.
I had to live with myself, and I was not a smiley face kind of person. I hadn’t been in a long time. And as much as mom and dad would have liked to blame Uncle Grant, I had become dour without his help. I grew up. That’s what happened.
Uncle Grant’s critique of the world made sense, more than mom and dad’s do-gooderism. I liked being around him. He liked being with me. We conversed. Mom and dad didn’t understand that. We didn’t talk. There was absolutely no one who said things that I believed. Except Uncle Grant. That was a very powerful thing to discover.
Lots of writers did that too. Since I was in a new place, I had go back to writers and find the ones who wrote about what I was thinking about. Because the people around me were not filling that role. At least not the adults.
Club Dead was different. Mr. Blok stumbled onto something that was good for me and now he intended to take it away. I would tackle that later. Now I was creating that avenue of hope. Uncle Grant would have hated that. He was not high on hope. But I was fifteen. And I didn’t have incurable cancer. He did. I had to move on.
Maybe I should have changed the wording. Avenue of Dealing With It? Path of Peace? It would come to me.
But thoughts got me in this mess. Thoughts had to get me out of it. I had a lot of faith in the power of words to shape me. I was working on the stage idea before I tried to die. I would return to it. It allowed me to witness the scenes I pass through – like this one with Mrs. Stone. Don’t judge it.
Club Dead spit venom at Mrs. Stone as she led me away. Some even roared “Hang in there CJ! You’re our hero!” That’s a good one. They didn’t know about my theory of the stage. Stoicism? Hardly. Mrs. Stone and I, this was our scene. Players. Nothing Mrs. Stone could do could hurt me. I couldn’t be hurt. I stood beyond hurt.
I would watch what she did and then head off stage and let her continue with her own theater production. The theater metaphor worked for me.
I thought about generosity. This sounded sweet corny. But when Emma said that she would do anything for me (she really emphasized ’anything’ in an Emma exaggerated way that I hate), I believed it. I said to myself, finishing off my sixth coconut cookie, that I would instead do things for people. Certain people: Emma, mom, dad, Frank, Dawn, Carrie and other Club Dead members.
I had no idea how I would know that I was being generous. I was not going to start giving gifts and baking cookies for people. But I’d find a way.
Mrs. Stone didn’t know that I was being generous, because while I did my best to stay on this stage and not judge, part of me saw me stabbing her again. Which led to the third area I would devote serious thought to: violence.
Somehow, somewhere, I had become attracted to violence. Last year I was sitting in the cafeteria. At a table next to me sat Devin Jencks and a couple of his goons. Cris MacKenzie walked up to Jencks. Cris was a sophomore. He flipped his lid at a soccer game not long ago. Pretty quite over the years but he was bursting all over school. Jencks a senior, must be 19 years old, a terror to the timid.
So Cris walked up to Jencks flipping a peach up into the air and caught it. Jencks ragged on Cris. I determined that these two had some serious issues to go over. Cris said nothing. Jencks said something and his thugs yucked it up like he was the lord of misrule.
At that point I was near hysteria. The tension was absolutely the best thing I had felt in a long time. Nothing touched me, not my problems with mom and dad, not with boring school, not with the fact that my life was nothing but a big irritant.
There was going to be a fight.
But I didn’t want the fight. It would destroy this harmony – that was the only word I could say. I felt harmonious. And it was all because of the anticipation of a fight caused by this otherwise quiet kid provoking this large bully.
Cris smashed the peach in Jencks’s face and all hell broke loose.
I moved off, deflated.
I remembered a song by Jane’s Addiction, a line goes “Sex and violence”. I looked at boys I liked and then at some girls I wanted to like. I looked longer at the girls.
I pursued encounters.
(I remained aware of Cris and his whereabouts at school. He had become a vigilante, going after kids who bullied others. He was promoted to the varsity basketball team after some stars were kicked off for partying. Cris played like a wild animal. I surprised myself by attending several games).
But the violence must not be directly related to me.
My fights with mom and dad didn’t count. They didn’t produce that moment of harmony.
I reminded myself that this was not the most appropriate therapy for me at. But if it gave me ninety seconds of relief, I planned to stick with it.
So I had my idea of life as a stage and seeking tense moments full of anticipation.
And I must stop kissing Frank.
And maybe I would join the hockey team and bash people into the boards.
I needed to find meaning.
I followed Mrs. Stone into the main office and was told to sit as Mrs. Stone disappeared into Mr. Blok’s room. I looked up to see Carrie leaning on the counter. I nodded at her and she nodded back. She looked so good in sunglasses.