Thank you for the birthday card. I received it several days ago, but kept it sealed until yesterday, my birthday proper, and opened it at the end of that horrible day. Your card made me stop crying.
My friends threw me a party two nights ago, a midnight cookout in the courtyard of my house. It was hot as shit outside despite the late hour, per usual for Florida. It was a total sausage party: no women, just dudes.
Damon got me a nice glass marijuana pipe. Aaron gave me an expensive bottle of rum. My sister bought me a quarter of brown, Mexican dirt weed. Jack gave me a joint. Crispen gave me a joint. Cameron gave me a joint. Sean bought me a six-pack of gourmet, imported beer and Lance gave me a hit of Ecstasy. Do you see the pattern here? Me too. So, instead of enjoying the party, I spent it feeling very silly about my image at the age of twenty-six. Do none of my friends (besides you) notice that I read and paint and listen to music?
But my dismay over the telling gifts didn't come close to the despair that marked my birthday itself. The morning after my party, Angela called and said she wanted to take me to lunch. Her offer was a show of civility, a rarity in the three weeks since we broke up. So I couldn't decline, even though I was pissed that she skipped my birthday party the night before to hang out with that eighteen-year-old boy whom she's been fucking for five weeks now (you do the math).
If I had declined her offer, it would have been my first birthday we had spent apart in five years. I knew the day would end in a fight (as it has the past five years), but I guess that not spending my birthday with her was an act of letting go that I wasn't yet ready for.
But I am now, fuckin-A! Listen to this:
I ate Lance's birthday Ecstasy before she picked me up, thinking it would improve the situation. The couple times I've done X have not been lovey-dovey hyper-idealism at all. It's never made me love the people of Earth any more than usual; it simply makes me feel less guilty for not loving them. Everything is lucid and my idealism dissipates. So, I figured, taking Ecstasy before lunch with Angela meant that I'd calmly smile my way through the inevitable fighting and see clearly and unsentimentally that we do not belong together. And I need that.
I could already feel the chemicals rumbling in my twitching extremities when she hugged me at my front door. I noticed that she smelled differently. I assumed it was the smell of young boy, but chose to ignore it and wait for the X to choke out my anxieties.
I didn't tell her I'd eaten drugs but I did ask her to drive. I didn't want to swerve off the road and kill us both if I saw God or something.
My body tensed up terribly as the chemicals overtook it, but that always happens at first. No matter how good I feel later on in any drug experience, I'm always engorged with nervous energy in the beginning, like I'm not accomplishing something that really needs to get done.
Angela's madness began when she asked me where I wanted to go to eat and I told her I didn't really care. Many of our fights revolved around my inability to suppress my opinions, so it always infuriates her when I say I don't have an opinion. And since she flounders in the face of decision-making, she grew more and more angered by my apathy as we wandered for miles in her Nissan through residential neighborhoods where there obviously weren't any restaurants. She rolled along really slowly, as if a restaurant might suddenly appear out of nowhere. In the meantime she asked me again and again, more and more aggressively each time, where I wanted to eat.
I closed my eyes and faced out the window, and in the blackness I pictured the calming effects of the drugs racing against her growing anger, like two noisy, silver trains on parallel tracks. I rooted for the drug train, but, surprisingly, the anxiety train was winning: I felt worse and worse as the X welled up in me.
I suggested that she drive downtown, where there were restaurants, and I'm sure it seemed to her that I was just being dramatic by staring out the window and not looking at her when I talked. But whenever I opened my eyes, the scenery stuttered like a defective VCR tape, and so I hid my eyes from her in case they were doing drug-induced back-flips.
By the time we got downtown, I knew the Ecstasy was bad: I was sweating, my face was flushed, my soul felt rotten. The veins in my arms looked darker than normal and I wondered if there wasn't dirt in my blood. My stomach was cramped, the world was skipping, I couldn't see; and when she yelled at me for being too quiet, I was too miserable to hide it anymore.
"Listen, man," I said as I turned around, "I know you're gonna be even more mad, but I took some Ecstasy that Lance gave me for my birthday and I don't know what the fuck is going on, it must be dirty or something, cause I'm freaking out."
The word "dirty" reverberated in me as she yelled and pointed in my face, her other hand on the steering wheel. "This is YOUR fault and I'm NOT going to stop. You fucking deserve this, you stupid druggie!"
She'd taken enough acid to know what kinds of dark shores your mind can run aground on when you're tripping and she was ready to take me there, happily, despite my pleading. Her relentless yelling made me feel like a cartoon character being pounded into the ground like a railroad spike by a giant hammer.
"Please please PLEASE, don't yell at me, I'm suffering enough. I feel like I want to die already without you yelling at me!"
I was holding onto the car's door handle the way prostitutes do: ready to roll out at any second if their john gets weird or violent.
Angela was merciless, man. My view was totally pixilated and I was SO disoriented that I must have told her I was sorry a hundred times. She got louder and uglier, until I was begging for her mercy. I told her, "It is all my fault. Everything. Just please stop. I'm so sorry, trust me, I'm sorry. You're making me want to die. Just please stop. Save it for later, after I come down from this. I will stand still and quiet for three days straight and let you yell in my face like a drill sergeant if you promise not to make this any worse right now."
"Really?" she stopped and asked, smiling, it seemed, with morbid curiosity. "You will?"
"Yes," I told her.
"You will let me yell at you as much as I want for three days and you won't fight back at all?" she asked, still smiling, calming considerably.
"Yes." I assured her, ready to do anything to make her stop.
"I don't believe you! I don't trust you!" she yelled, and continued to rail.
At a stoplight, just as I was sure I was about to cry dirty, black tears, I looked over and saw a policeman a hundred yards away on horseback, watching us wig out in the car. I made eye contact with his horse and wished I'd opted for a birthday pony ride rather than an Ecstasy trip. I thought I saw the cop stretching his arms out to me as if offering to hold me and comfort me. I was drawn to him and my hand moved independent of me, like that movie, "Evil Dead," and suddenly the car door was open and I was stepping out and walking toward the cop, planning to ask him for a ride home on his horse.
But somehow I realized through my delirium that if I ran to him for salvation, I would have to admit that I took drugs and he would arrest me. Angela screamed at me to get back in the car, so, with the policeman and his horse both watching me, I got back in, lapsed into a puddle of tears and asked her to drive me home. Lunchless.
I stared back out the window at the skipping scenery made more abstract when refracted through my tears and I fell deeper and deeper into sooty despair as she continued to yell at me all the way home.
We pulled up out front of my house and I opened the car door before the car stopped moving and she actually sped up when I stepped out. I ran toward the house and she backed the car up and stopped, screaming at the back of my head, "Get back here and shut the fucking car door!"
I slammed my front door and locked it, ran inside and lay in bed and smoked one of the birthday joints and calmed down. But I didn't stop crying until I remembered my unopened birthday card from you lying in the kitchen by the bottle of rum Aaron bought me.
I really really appreciate it, man. Thanks.