So last week on my way to sign paperwork for a new job, I drove by the grocery store that, in late fall of 2009, had dry ice in stock when I called every place in town trying to find it. It seems a little surreal that I actually did that, you know, plan my death down to the last morbid detail of calculating how many dry ice packs would be required to preserve my body X amount of days so that it wouldn’t be AS awful when somebody found it. As a courtesy (I feel), you should do that. You should know what day you’re going to eat last, so that you can know there won’t be anything inside you. And for Christ’s sake, you shouldn’t be found naked.
A week prior I had to get an I-9 notarized, which triggered a 2009 flashback to my “witness” questioning me admirably for being so responsible as to write a will at my young age. Standing outside the notary public in Austin’s blazing July heat chatting with this stranger, I *knew* she wanted to know the dirt…does this chick have cancer? She looks fine to me. What in the world does a 27 year old need a will for?
Two weeks before that I was packing boxes to move and came across the shard of glass from a broken mirror, two packs of powdered aspirin, and the stashes of pills I still have stockpiled for some reason. What, really, would be a good reason to hold onto your means and your backup plans for your backup plan?
Luckily I’m not in therapy so I don’t have to answer that. Sadly, I’ve never been to a counselor-psychologist-psychiatrist with the depth or skills to even GET to a question like that. Even the people who are supposedly TRAINED to “go there” can’t actually do it, because it’s safer to talk about why you don’t have a job or how your family’s so screwed up. But I digress.
My first suicide plan back in 2007 (link) was too hasty to encompass such minute details. It was thrown together in half a day. The second and third time around, the plan evolved to be more exhaustive. I mulled over the minutiae laboriously as my cash ran out and an upcoming eviction notice loomed over me. With the same furor I usually summoned to plan my life, I instead planned my death. I reveled in having something to focus on besides the aching hole terrorizing my insides.
I stopped short of buying dry ice on my step-by-step plan, and still to this day have never stepped foot inside that particular store … have never even laid eyes on the place until the other day. Life sprinkles all these coincidental little reminders in periodically to ensure you can’t escape from the memory of almost. Almost not here.
Once you’ve been suicidal, you can’t not be the person who went off the deep end. You don’t get to be the stable, rational one with a good head on your shoulders anymore. People view you as the equivalent of the hairline fracture in their coffee mug; for the most part you’re functional and they can sometimes hide the imperfection, but every once in a while the leak betrays itself and they’re never quite sure when you’re gonna up and crack bigtime. And to be honest, I feel the same way about myself. Even if you glued me or something, I’m still convinced I could bust open at any given moment.
I remember Rappaport’s proposal from In Her Wake that people plan suicide as a way to cope with life. If you perceive your situation as inescapable, you are trapped. There is a perverse comfort you indulge in by planning your way out. “If this gets to be too much, I enact the plan,” you tell yourself. “If I can’t take it anymore, I know how to make the pain stop.” (This is my grotesque version of paraphrasing a book I read almost three years ago).
Though a year’s gone by since my last serious inclination towards suicide, I think Rappaport might understand better than I why I still harbor the means to my demise. Not a day goes by that I can’t find a book or soup ladle or other random possession I’ve forgotten I got rid of that summer in Austin. Sometimes I think parts of myself were discarded along with my belongings, and I’m not allowed to forget it.