I remember the day quite vividly.
At this point, I’m not so much as feeling like a fraud or a house of cards as much as I just straight up don’t know what I am feeling, other than a calming sense of certainty and finality that was ushering in what I thought was going to be the very end.
For days or even weeks prior, I had spent my free time thinking of how I wanted to die. Researching the whole thing as if I was writing an academic paper or a piece for the New Yorker.
There was the surreal experience of standing in a daze in front of racks and racks of rifles and shotguns at the local sporting goods behemoth, wondering how cheaply I could buy something that would assure me a quick death without the possibility of a mistake that would leave me alive but disfigured. I drifted into associations of being a young child, probably 6 or 7, shooting handguns the size of my head with my father. I remembered the silver cannon that my hand was too small for, him helping me fire off errant shot after errant shot at old burned out cars and vans in a deserted, grown over lot beyond some rarely used railroad tracks in a more rural part of an already rural town, and the sense of power and awe that came to me, unaware of the destructiveness that I struggled to hold in my palm. Dozens of brown rifles and shotguns, like rows of dead trees, stood before me. I thought of my 8th birthday, when my stepfather gave me a .22 caliber Marlin bolt-action rifle and the joy and triumph that would come over me when we would go shooting and I would hit those old paper targets. I looked to see if the store sold Marlin rifles, figuring if they did, that maybe it was a sign that I should swallow the cold barrel of a Marlin and complete some weird, fucked up circle. They did not. No salesperson approached me. I wondered what I would say if an overly friendly college kid in a polo shirt and khakis was to walk up to me and ask me if I needed assistance with the firearms.
“Oh, no thanks, I’m just looking.”
“What would you recommend for someone who wants to kill themselves?”
“What do you have that you can assure would kill a person in one shot but not leave a grotesque mess?”
Perhaps my blank expression, slowed demeanor, and professional attire kept them away. I didn’t think that I looked like the typical customer and felt as out of place as the bright pink rifles in the display case. I walked out of the store, frustrated and confused. While I didn’t recognize it as such at the time, ambivalence was coursing through me. I wondered what would happen if I bought one of those boomsticks and decided NOT to kill myself. Would I be able to return it?
I didn’t think it at the time, but there was some small part of my tortured and tired mind that didn’t want to die. Consciously, I was certain that the end was beginning. But underneath the pain, there was something else.