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Rushing toward the exit - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
Rushing toward the exit
There was a system of savage storms rolling through St. Louis and Chicago when I was traveling on Saturday. It delayed flights. Agitated travelers with their fists grinding on their hips stamped their tired feet, yelling at gate agents. I had to laugh.

Once we finally boarded, grabbing my book, Chloe, Queen Of Denial out of my bag, I settled into my window seat. A young girl was scrunched next to me, her father on the aisle. A middle-aged black woman with a hack of a cough sat directly in front of me. It started out as a bumpy ride, never letting up on the turbulence. Each time the plane would dip or rock, the girl white-knuckled the armrest, the woman in front of me adding a whoop to her cough.

I smiled a smug smile. I knew planes don’t plummet because of air pockets or lightening. I knew even if we had crashed, we’d just end up on a tropical island with polar bears, a sexy doctor, and the will to make a new society.

I’ve never been afraid to die. My perceptions of it have changed, though. Possessing the arrogance afforded only the young, I believed it would never happen to me. Live Fast, Die Free was a patch I had sewn on my leather jacket when I was twenty-two, roaming in Berlin on angeldust. I burned life as hard and quick as I could, collecting reckless adventures in my pocket as if they were lucky pennies. Birthdays I’d never anticipated came and went.

And I find it kind of funny,
I find it kind of sad.
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had.


For most of my life, I’ve been dancing in the dark as though nothing could touch me, clinging to that arrogance, the capricious belief that it wasn’t going to be a final curtain. Losing Billy forever altered my attitude about mortality. Immediately afterward, a few therapists believed I had “suicide ideation” but I knew better. I wasn’t going to kill myself, not with a grisly gunshot or a hapless hanging or a splattered jump from a balcony. I’d just eat really bad food, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and surrender my seatbelt – the coward’s suicide.

I was bulletproof, anyway. After that, nothing worse could ever happen. Nothing.

I still believe the bulletproof part of the equation but I’ve begun to factor in all of the things I need to accomplish before I move on to the next step. I made a vow in my eulogy almost three years ago, one born from panic and sadness, a promise to keep Billy alive through good deeds in his name. I spoke of a foundation to help disadvantaged children, something Billy longed to do.

But I don’t know anything about kids. Nothing. I’m more determined than ever, though, to create a Foundation or Project or whatever it’ll end up being called but its agenda has changed into something that I can understand and embrace. It’ll still have Billy's name, front and center on the marquee, but I want to shape something that will help those trapped in crystal addiction. It’ll also have a dog rescue component. The two hardly sit on the same plate but I understand them. Better yet, I now have the resources and a time-honed clarity to begin the mission.

I’m no longer running toward the E-X-I-T. I’ll stop smoking soon which will inevitably lead me back to the gym, the calm of lifting until I precisely exhaust each muscle, and a better diet will follow. For the first time, I can see that red sign in the distance, looming in the dark. I can't read the letters yet, but I know what it says. It’s there, all right, but there’s no reason to hurry.

I have things to do.
26 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
brigid23 From: brigid23 Date: November 30th, 2004 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually the two could have some startling similarities. Allowing addicts trying to kick the addiction to care for a dog, have something depend on them - that may be more useful than you might suppose.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)
That is one very smart idea. Billy signed up Bob to help at convalescent homes. Dogs are being used as therapy in prisons.

A brilliant idea, indeed. Thank you so much.
fabulist From: fabulist Date: November 30th, 2004 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
There's a program in prison rehab where prisoners are training dogs to be assistance dogs. Helps the prisoners, the dogs, and the people who get the dogs. Could be a good lead.
brigid23 From: brigid23 Date: November 30th, 2004 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad I could help :)
fabulist From: fabulist Date: November 30th, 2004 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)
You make me very happy, sometimes, Terry.

You will do amazing things.

XO J.
thekingoftoday From: thekingoftoday Date: November 30th, 2004 09:29 am (UTC) (Link)
So often I stumble across someone's journal through friends or other avenues and find them to be completely typical. I have found a few gems which have become a must-read bestseller in my live journal world. Yours is one of them. I appreciate the honesty. I appreciate the talent you possess. But most of all, I enjoy having a window to look through. I don't know you and I probably never will, but to me, reading your journal allows me to know something. I don't form opinions based on anecdotes, but I do enjoy reading them. Thank you.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you very kindly. I had no idea you were reading my journal. You are now my mutual LJ friend, and I look forward to getting to know you better.

We may meet someday. I grew up in Oak Park. My dad still lives there. I hope to make it to see him soon.
(Deleted comment)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
So's your butterfly.
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: November 30th, 2004 09:43 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a wonderful idea about the foundation.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it'll work. I think it'll be easier to set up the foundation than quit smoking.
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: November 30th, 2004 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a given. Good luck. I know it's hard. I lived with a smoker who tried numerous times to quit.
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: November 30th, 2004 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)
And the quitting smoking thing is a good idea. :)
quuf From: quuf Date: November 30th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I have things to do.

A simple sentence, but one of the loveliest you've ever written.
bitbear From: bitbear Date: November 30th, 2004 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I still believe the bulletproof part of the equation but I've begun to factor in all of the things I need to accomplish before I move on to the next step.

Thanks for describing this in a way that makes sense, without sounding fatalistic. I haven't been able to do it without people looking at me as if I were insane.

It's not a death wish, but is not fear either.

In the meantime, it's time to get on with it.
You will do good.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
It's just starting to make sense for me, on some levels. But losing Billy will never ever make any sense to me. I just have to do something tangibly positive about it.

Thank you for understanding the lack of fear. It is, indeed, hard to explain to people without sounding insane.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 30th, 2004 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I find it hard to tell you
'cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very very mad world

A tropical island with polar bears! Cool.

I like your mission, and I am excited with you.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love that song.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 30th, 2004 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me too. I used to be addicted to the whole album... it's been awhile since I've listened to it. I should dig it up again.
(Deleted comment)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 30th, 2004 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Mike. The warp speed of age is a funny thing, only without the laughs.
ladycakes From: ladycakes Date: November 30th, 2004 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
The world is a better place because you are in it.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: December 1st, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Baltimore will be a better place once you're in it.
ladycakes From: ladycakes Date: December 1st, 2004 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awww...I really hope I can find my way there soon.
mwittier From: mwittier Date: November 30th, 2004 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having 'things to do' is precisely what keeps me going now, when I am stuck doing the other things.

I tend to think in terms of things to make, but it's the same thing. Acts of creation. S'what we're here for. And with age, I'm finding that I make choices that more readily allow me to create things, rather than choices that thwart or stifle them, or drown them out chemically or with angst.


From what little I know of you, yours will be extraordinary. Your combination of creativity and compassion is unsinkable.

M.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: December 1st, 2004 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're very kind, M, and I appreciate that vote of confidence. Acts of creation walk hand in hand with acts of kindness, I hope.
From: clarabellabo Date: December 5th, 2004 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck with your ventures, particularly with the dogs, that's something I'd love to do myself :)

And extra luck with stopping smoking. I know how hard THAT is! I bet you succeed admirably though!
backawayslowly From: backawayslowly Date: December 5th, 2004 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know how I missed this post of yours...

...but I'll always treasure how you can write posts that make me laugh aloud (tropical island with polar bears, a sexy doctor, and the will to make a new society) and simultaneously make me speechless.

glad you're going to slow down the coward's suicide, I'm sure we all appreciate it!


26 comments or Leave a comment