The Moon

By spring of my final year of high school I was running every day. Disappearing from classes, avoiding assignments and drinking every weekend. Beer was easy to get and allowed me to escape the turmoil and trials of a hormone enraged, self-loathing, worried 17 year old. Parties were plentiful. It now seems amazing that so many parents left their kids for the weekend and that so many kids opened their houses even after seeing the trouble that usually occurred. Burned carpets, spilled drinks, broken glasses, and vomit were regular occurrences and lots of parties devolved into mini orgies and battlegrounds with different biological stains to clean up. A thee beer buzz was enough to race away from my every day and find a more confident, less troubled persona. One additional beer every hour or so kept the starting line out of sight.
Working almost every night, I had become accustom to getting by on a few hours of sleep even if it meant that the bags under my eyes made me look 10 years older. It made pulling beer so much easier and the offsale staff at the Empire knew me well enough that they never requested ID. Working, avoiding classes, partying, smoking didn’t prepare me well for racing and even during the race season, I didn’t attend many practices believing that I could skate by on my talents and laurels. It made a good story but wasn’t true. “ You are sabotaging yourself” was the admonition from teachers and the track coach. “ You have so much potential” was what I heard the principal tell my mom in an emergency parent meeting to determine if I was to be expelled or suspended. Not wanting to spend a fifth year in high school, even though I had no idea what was preferably, managed to meet the expectations agreed to in that meeting and graduated with the rest of my class. It was meant to be a big deal and the start of something new but five minutes into the ceremony I was thinking about the party and possible hook ups from dancing and drinking that might occur. The present moment was bearable only in as it served to launch us to greener pastures. Distrust of circumstances, motivations and the words of everyone around me made being present a blur like an out of body experience or what I imagine an acid trip would be like. I was never completely coherent or competent because I was either imaging some minor event in yesterdays or wishing for something different and unknown in my tomorrows. Based on evasive conversations with a few friends and limited awareness of others around me, this seemed more like the norm for my cohort than the exception. Micro-rebellions that chaffed authority but didn’t rise the hackles of the legal system were rampant and celebrated for being much more than they really were. A ‘nothing really matters at all’ futility smothered us; me.
Once a week coma sleep was meant to be a reliable recovery practice. Push forward on 5 hours, 4 hours and then crash for 20 on Saturday/Sunday. This seemed to work but the untold and unseen damage to my brain and body did catch up and a compromised immune system meant constant sniffles and sore throats for more than two years.
Cycle breakers can be bottom stops or freaky top of the mountain scares. I wasn’t diagnosed manic depressive for 25 more years but looking back the swings and ups and downs were just as pronounced at 17 and 27 and 73 as 42.
When I broke out of the self-loathing, self-medicating stream long enough to see the world another run of high risk-high reward activities arose. It is confusing being the smartest person in every room for 28 days and tomorrow being a sad scarecrow for a lunar cycle. Retrospection, rear view mirrors, hindsight whatever you call it is an accurate observation point but not all that helpful when you are being torn apart from inside your head. The demons roar as dulled by beer and bravado but before the assent there was a base camp; a terrible, dangerous base camp. “ No one would care if I wasn’t here”, “ It would be so simple to… It would be over”, “ I can’t breathe, I can’t hear, I can’t feel anymore, this is too much”. Plans, notes, threats were made and never followed through. No explanation or reason for not cutting and running the final race but some force held me just far enough away from that race. When the tide turned and the serotonin uptake elevated it was invigorating to step outside and watch me wow a crowd, stump a teacher, create a masterful picture of a remarkable idea. I admired myself from above, beside, in front. The POV was external and disassociated until the moon changed and then everything was viewed through pitiful (full of self pity) eyes and the out of focus lens of depression.