I know that I know nothing
Me: (handing her a pack) Pick a toothbrush.
Woman: (picks one) Wait…where are all the others?
Me: In use.
Her: Do you label the toothbrushes?
Me: I’ve got enough to deal with – you all have to remember which toothbrush is yours.
Gymgirl had never seen any episodes of Parts Unknown, but, when Alison was trying to get pregnant, she and I watched a ton of episodes. In some way, we were trapped at home but it was our escape. When she got sick, we saw a few episodes here and there.
So I put on the Cologne and Senegal episodes for the Gymgirl; Alison worked a lot in Senegal and I think she woulda loved watching it.
In the Senegal episode, towards the end, Bourdain said that he had a tatoo that read paraphrase of a Greek/Latin phrase I’ve always liked, scio me nihil scire: I know that I know nothing.
He said, I am certain of nothing.
Don’t think it’s any major surprise to anyone, but I spent most of the time after Alison passed trying to think of ways to end my life with two major goals: (a) ensure my son got the maximum amount of money but only when he was old enough to use it responsibly, and (b) ensure he would not be the one to find my body.
I’m ok now, in case you’re worried.
Dispassionately speaking, those two things kept my mind racing for days…weeks? Months? I’m not sure. Was drinking a lot. Spent my time in the company of strangers trying to forget things.
Eventually, I sobered up, both literally and figuratively. Without getting too into it, essentially bureaucracy saved my life: There were certain things I was waiting for in order to accomplish goal but by the time I got what I needed, I was already feeling less depressed and more just normal, heart-breaking, sadness.
But there were many nights when I was pretty cloudy and thought about just ending it all. But those two things and my OCD kept me from making that final cut.
Me: Do you ever daydream about, like, a fancy car?
Friend: Sure, I guess.
Me: That’s how I think about dying. I dream about it. It’s not real, per se, it’s just something I think about.
Him: Do you think you’d ever do it?
Me: No. But I think about it.
I wouldn’t be here if not for the kid. Alison was always worried because I often had bouts of depression.
Alison: Wouldn’t you stay just to keep me company?
Me: It’s never as easy as that.
Alison: Why can’t it be?
Ah, if only everyone could stay in the world because someone wanted them, desperately, to stay.
But suicidal depression doesn’t make a lotta sense, especially to the suicidally depressed. Even at my worst, I was pretty high-functioning; I knew suicidal people that weren’t even close. Bourdain was clearly high-functioning.
Two years ago, told you that I had two other atomic bombs in my life besides Alison and the cancer. My father was dying of cancer too; that I eventually told you.
But the third was that one of my favorite cousins tried to kill himself in the middle of everything happening with my dad and Alison.
I remember getting that call and thinking that my life was as insane as it could ever be.
He survived, though. Alison and my dad didn’t. But that doesn’t make suicide any less dangerous. It’s as deadly as cancer because it kills you just the same.
Just snap outta it.
I’ve said that before to people that were suidically depressed, before I knew any better. It puts the blame on them – they’re doing this to themselves. But, as I said, that’s not how depression works.
No normal person wakes up dreaming of ways to end their lives. It’s the opposite of normal.
I know I’m not normal. Perhaps that’s part of why I don’t think I’d ever do it. Because I know I’m not ok.
Never met Bourdain but I like to think that it was a momentary – and awful – lapse of reason that made him end his life. He had a kid and I doubt that, if he was thinking clearly, he’d ever hurt his daughter like that. Maybe in that last moment, he had some clarity and wanted to stay.
Then again, I’m certain of nothing. Except that I love Alison and her boy. If only love was enough for things like this.
As long as the boy is here, I’ll stay to keep him company. He shocked me with this conversation today and made me cry.
Me: (absentmindedly) I miss your mama.
Boy: (nodding) I miss mama too.
Think Bourdain’s daughter’s name is Ariane. Always thought that was such a pretty name.