She opened her eyes and the stress of remembering that the stress was yet to abate began to set in once more. It’s not that she wouldn’t mind putting a swift end to things. It’s just that suicide’s never really been considered an attractive option. The word itself, she thinks; something too calculated, textbook about it. And actually, she just sees it as another contributor (to the stress), like some asshole with a big dick who she knows’ll give it to her good, but would obviously still be a negative in the expected value department. It sits there today, taunting – not the asshole (or the dick), but the idea – and it’s just one more thing she needs to forget so she can get her ass out of bed.
She prefers an admittedly below average cup of coffee, satisfied with its ability to avoid pretense while still getting the job done. She’ll even use her Keurig when she’s feeling particularly misanthropic. Sipping her breakfast, she often wonders why she can’t have had a life in Italy or France – a city or place where worries are quashed by the beauty that imbues their quotidian. The glamour and grandeur of life in that part of the world, she knows, is purchased with a currency apart from money (there’s nothing romantic about money). It’s begotten via one’s capacity for reason and rational thought, microinteractions and kindness. And ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, the capacity for leisure: a lack for which she seriously resents her fellow compatriots. Now of course she’s not exactly reached the ‘9 - 5’ stages of life just yet, but she imagines the whole affair taking a better trajectory on a different landmass. To be sure, she’s never even left the country. And while it doesn’t seem she has plans to change that so quickly, she can’t help thinking she’d flourish. Pitiably, she has to tell herself to quit this line of thinking too most mornings. The pummeling awareness of just how much this is never going to happen only makes things worse.
She has, in a kind of upside, however, always been rather adept at keeping her head down, pulling herself up by the bootstraps just enough to retain a modicum of purpose and self-respect (not that those things have much value coming from the service gig she’s always saying she needs to quit yesterday). A large share of this dubious positivity is tapped by way of the daily, meticulous application of her makeup. The routine is as integral to whatever success or functionality she might hope to channel as is the amount of sleep she gets, or food she eats. There’s a clever parallel to be drawn somewhere noting the irony in her taking this made-up face to a job where she rarely, if ever, has cause to exert an authentic self anyway. She doesn’t care which version she gives them and she doesn’t care who they get. All that matters, all that ever really matters, is that she’s done some honest good work at making her life just a little easier to bear. People are simply moving parts in and out of the equation of her own happiness, props in service of a distraction from the gloomy cloud daily looming overhead. She won’t cop to it, but growth and personal development aren’t exactly beacons of inspiration in her day-to-day decision-making. You simply contribute to her peace of mind or you’re a force against it.
It’s no secret a person preoccupied in such a way can do alright in the world. And make no mistake she does quite well for herself as far as fiscal matters are concerned. Where she wishes things could go smoother might be at the bank, often wondering what it is strippers do with all their stage take. Having said that, if a genuine problem does exist, it’s that someone like herself never really has anything to save for. Linear goal-making has no place in a life beset by cyclic paralysis and self-sabotage. A stasis of apartment, a good meatball every now and then, and a steady inflow of new dresses she swears have resale value is all she needs. It would be nice to report that these seemingly individual and relatively innocuous lifestyle choices yield little collateral damage, but that is sadly not the case.
Things begin to get rocky for her whenever she feels she’s being strong-armed into becoming somehow accountable to another (typically a boy, but this doesn’t exclude female companions either). Since she has no legitimate expectations of herself, that anyone else should have any of her is more than just unsettling, it’s an affront. Her broody solitude is of far too much value. (It’s what makes whining about all her loneliness possible in the first place!) She has the sad history of never having experienced the unconditional love she irrationally requires of every man she meets. And it’s not that she thinks she’s such a prize, she knows she is, damnit. And it’s as such she demands carte blanche and the kind of leniency for her behavior that says ‘I love you in spite of your faults,’ despite very much not giving a shit how it is she affects them.
At this point, the scarring she’s endured from, what, her father walking out on her young and her mother setting new bars for sociopathic lunacy with each passing day, have all left her more or less emotionally inept. She gives far better hugs to dogs than she does humans. She sneers at remorse and regret like they carry with them some kind of disease. And it’s thus that she never grows (emotionally). And, because she doesn’t grow (emotionally), she’s unable to grasp what things like love and loyalty even are. Except, maybe that’s setting the mark too high. A meaningful relation of any kind would please her supporters. But, no. Her signature shortcoming is not the way she treats people like shit. It’s the way she marvels at how it is they all keep screwing her over, disappointing her in all the myriad ways they do.
Her therapist has, as gently as she could, tried to apprise her of these borderline elements to her personality. It doesn’t take a Talmudic study of Freud to comprehend the present reaping her childhood sowed. And it’s not something she herself denies, or is even all too stubborn about really. She kind of just coldly accepts it, like she does cold weather. In a word, she puts up with it – begrudgingly. She isn’t religious; she can’t exactly buy the notion that she’s somehow fated for doom like that. Then again, she isn’t much of a philosopher either. Nihilism makes her sleepy. People have to stay alive, don’t they? So what’s the use of expending all that energy on rueful introspection, she wonders.
But so it’s at this precipice that she finds herself most mornings, today not favoring an exception. She’s dying to turn it around. Well, she’s dying anyway. Really she’d love to just have someone turn it around for her. She’s a lazy cuss, let’s not sugarcoat it. And it’s not like she’s blind to the benefits of proactivity. She just feels it’s become too her now. To go and do anything about changing the menu at this point would be fruitless and stupid. She feels she’s more or less become who she’s going to be. Scared of drugs, she’s made a conscious decision to get high off her sobriety instead. She saves benders for the mall and the grocery store. You’ll never catch her cooking, but she’ll buy the most expensive cuts of meat for the way they look in her fridge. Vanity, for most, fills the space between shame and the actual perception others have of them. For our troubled gal though, there are no on-lookers, not really anyway. She invites as little observation as possible, defending against scrutiny on whatever front she may have left unguarded. And that which she does invite, trust, will not have the requisite capacity for any sort of critical analysis anyhow. It’s in this manner that she exposes herself to the least amount of risk that her true colors otherwise will out.
The poor girl…
At her funeral the question will be asked as to the degree of her belovedness. Most will be sad less for how much they loved and miss her, and more for their wonderment as to whether or not she knew they did, or cared to know. It’s hard to imagine a setting more fitting than a secluded getaway six feet under ground, one of them will say. (What could be more emblematic of how aloof she was during the time spent above it?) Another will guiltily reflect on whether or not a dead person can feel better about their situation after the fact. They’ll then tell themselves this one’s better off left unsaid… The more optimal question is whether or not someone has ‘lived a full life,’ as they say. Except, that’s really only to make the people they’ve left behind feel better, isn’t it? After all, she wouldn’t accept such a compliment even if it were paid her. It bastardizes the shortcomings, which, despite the turmoil they produce inside, give her a sense of comfort that she’s at least living her life. Never mind living honestly, or reputably. What’s the point of living if you have to do it like others want you to? And to that end, she’s not sure staying alive keeps at all in line with the credo.
The thing about all the tricks with her is that none of them ever really have any magic in them. One often suspects chicanery, but she’s actually much plainer at the surface than she lets on. Yes, she’s like a bad magician that doesn’t know she’s bad. Luckily (for her or the rest of us, who can say), there’s only one trick left. It’s no longer a question of if; it’s a question of how to make it seem as little like ‘statement’ as possible. There is a strict set of parameters limiting the viability of such an outlet being taken. No bridges, no guns. No blood. No evidence suggesting her physical self has at all moved on from the pristine form sitting so firmly in peoples’ minds. But to just disappear? Does she leave a note? She admires good poetry, certainly, but she’s never considered herself much of a lady of letters. She’d have someone write one for her were this not a solo mission. What about an overdose? Eh. She knows it’d just be taken for another trite attempt at the romance of a 27-year-old finish. For starters, she doesn’t even do drugs. Someone is bound to suspect some kind of foul play, and she won’t have her exit sullied like that.
And then, it hits her – Master and Commander.
Mr. Hollom – he had it right. He let the ocean do the work for him, the ocean and a cannonball. She likes this idea: cradling a dense, lifeless object as it escorts her soul to an eternally aquatic fate. Drowning is simple, and clean. And surely it’s the least painful…right? When someone’s drowning, they’re just, not going to be alive shortly after it…is how it must go. It’s just a matter of which body of water to give her own to. The Pacific, maybe? On shear size alone it appears most apt to swallow her up and never let her go. Doesn’t she require something a little more peaceful though, tranquil? How would she get out to the middle of the Pacific anyway? (Do oceans even have middles?) It occurs to her that she could always take a cruise. However, if it were a bunch of inane tourists that held claim to her last human contact, she’d probably want to kill herself twice. In fact, she’s starting to think it’s these decisions that are becoming the real reasons for needing to end it. If only she could write the story of her own finale – The Story of a Girl… whose story can’t be finished…because she doesn’t know how…how best to…die.