Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Nature Of Pain

Pain demands remedy.  It demands attention, it creates an end.  Ends are found wandering down many paths. 

Little by little I felt like dying.  I drove home up the 15 degree incline that went on for seven miles from the ocean to the mountainous woods.
The late afternoon sun was bright and hit my shoulders, browning them slightly.  The heat came in through the window and he sat next to me, a 200 pound man with the potential for artistic expression and a capacity for miserable effort and run-ins with the law. 
As I began to reach the peak of the oak covered meadow before a curvy 2 mile long descent into wooded Felton, I felt overwhelmed. The man had a multitude of chemical addictions and twenty nine years of pain that needed to be dulled and a father that had just died.
The family would not wait to hold the funeral and as a result, the tattooed addict beside me would never, as my mother said, have closure.  She could see what was coming more than I could, that girl I was with firm round breasts and idealism that had somehow sucked her into a cave full of murky water.
My tattooed addict, sitting in the cushioned chair beside me had a history of minor crimes and outstanding warrants in a few states and credit debt that would haunt him until death.

Each one of his problems fell on my shoulders. I opened my arms to them and held them.
For a time I hoped that they would get better or change or that he would change or that his jail stays would alter him or that visiting the county hospital would at least provide him with methadone or some legal compound, but none of it changed.  He took the methadone and then went to the streets moment later.  Even after the doctors finally approved a physical therapist and a reason was identified for his unbearable back pain, he never stopped mixing and injecting, he never followed through on the recommended exercises. He was in a cave of his own.
He let me carry all his problems. I took him to the appointments and to the streets. I went to work and then handed over my cash to his open hands that were like magnets. I picked up his cigarettes and cringed every moment he stood at the doorway smoking, wasps of pungent odor coming right back towards me, covering my clothes and books with their stench so that one day I would have to throw them all away. 

His problems were my problems. And his problems where too big for me and I wanted it all to end.
I remember saying: “but I haven’t made my mark on the world yet.”  And he agreed.  And so there was no double suicide.
But every day he got worse and I felt the dark cloud grow bigger and thicker and so strong that I could not see light beyond it.  Every day his tolerance grew and he needed a little more black tar.  Every day he needed a little more money.  Every day he sunk deeper and I watched from the edge, teetering on the side, looking in and then beyond. 
I went to work, I went to school.  I brought him money and he took it to the beach flats and got small brown goo wrapped in pieces of plastic. After disappearing into the bathroom for hours and poking in every vein he remembered having he would emerge all sweaty and pink. 
For a precious moment he would be free of pain, he would forget about his dad and the mounting legal problems and his back and the mountain of darkness that hung over our heads. Then time would slip and we would remember and the rattle would begin once again.

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