Ian and I show up to this shindig dressed almost identically, but not on purpose. As an ex boyfriend of Alison’s, a lot of people pretended to not know who he was.
“It would have looked worse if you didn’t show up.” I remind him. He grabed my hand in agreement.
We spend the next hour and a half with our eyes pealed. The elders are drinking and sharing stories. The young, all hit by bricks. At Alison’s memorial service, the only dead girls present are the one’s drinking hot cider slowly and trying not to talk to anyone they don’t know. Per request of her family, she didn’t even show up at her own funeral.
How fitting, to anyone that new her well.
Even still, this breaths less like a service, and more like a game of Clue. The people that know death too well by now are there for the cocktails, but for us Al’s contemporaries, we look at each other paranoid like someone has information they’re not sharing. We’re all starved to find out who was her primary influence in the last month she was alive. We all want to know,
“Who sold the heroin that killed my friend?”
Not like that would make a difference. There’s some parable about a horse and water, except that addict’s don’t know they’re thirsty for anything other than the object of their deprivation. If the only thing that “cures” you is killing you, you’ll die sooner rather than later and there isn’t a thing in this world anyone can do about it.
Furthermore, even if I met them, is it really their fault?
Is it Jose Quervo’s fault every time a white guy dies driving drunk on Cinco De Mayo? Hardly, but we are so starved to pin the blame on the dirtbag because it hurts to think that death by addiction is somewhere in between dying of disease and assisted suicide. It hurts to think about period. It hurts to know that we can’t even blame her, and if we could, it would be the girl who tried drugs in her teens, not the woman that ODed on heroin two weeks ago.
As I browse through the youth at this death party, I notice that some’s eyes are glassy, others are stone, but collectively we’re all harder. Unable to trace the steps of a woman who was fantastic about downplaying the flaws that couldn’t be construed as beautiful, even the most solid leads are etched in sand.
I’ve found that closure only comes by finding out things you don’t really want to know. I assume that’s part of the reason for it- closure. Maybe that works for the adults here but not the children. Either we’re wrong in our reaction, or are yet to conquer much bigger hurricanes. I feel bad for anyone who’s jaded by a 26 year old dying at their own hands, but I wasn’t there to spit venom. I was there because I said I would, and because my alternative would have been to drink alone. Lately I’ve been so toxic to myself, and have been associating with people I’d never want to put through that.
Ian and I leave early and walk three miles to a bar close to his place because we just needed to keep moving. The November air nips at us in the same way a kitten does on attack. I let him fill the silence with babble. He doesn’t ask me to slow my pace. He doesn’t ask how I’m feeling because he know’s I’m shot out. I’m overcome. When we get to the dive, the bartender can’t find my date of birth on my out of state license so he asks how old I am.
“Twenty seven.” I say, briefly remembering how I rung in that birthday- Al, Nadia and I ordered takeout because we were amidst one of the polar vortexes and I didn’t want to drink on a Monday.
I took a slow sip of my Old Style and wondered how long, not until when, just how long.