It’s easier to write about how much we fail each other as opposed to how much we support each other because the depths of emotion that comes with pain and depression feel so much more familiar than stability, security, love and reassurance.
When I was younger, I knew I was fucked up, despite all the opportunity that I was given in life. I went to the good high school in the bad part of town, but being top of the class wasn’t enough to save me from myself. I knew I was the only one who could save me from myself, and I also knew that it was going to be a difficult battle because I am fucking crazy. Being young and looking at one’s options while knowing that every option comes with the hang up of knowing that I’m going to fuck it up eventually is a depressing thing to do, mostly because people said things like, “Go to college!” “Study medicine!” “Get a good job!” “Find someone who loves you and marry him!” And for some reason, every one of those seemed like an impossible challenge that wasn’t worth bothering with.
Even before I was rampantly fucking and constantly drinking, society had shown me the light down the path where I knew I belonged. I knew that I didn’t belong in air conditioned office buildings with name tags and business casual pants suits. I knew that I wasn’t going to be toting around someone else’s babies while slowly building up resentment for the father of the children. I knew that driving a brand new job to and from the grocery store with organic food on my way to my nice home in the hills wasn’t my style. I knew they weren’t for me, but, in retrospect, I’m not sure if that was because I genuinely didn’t want them or because somewhere, deep inside me, I knew that I didn’t have the tenacity or the strength or the wit or even the mental stability with which to attain those kinds of things. People are supposed to want those kinds of things, but I told myself that those were the dreams of some other person. Of someone who was different from me and didn’t know what it was like to be me. Who hadn’t seen the things I had seen or felt the things that I had felt – and those were the things that drove me to the bottle at a young age.
I knew I was fucked up, and I knew I didn’t belong, and I knew I had to design a reality within which I could exist. Where I could survive. Where I could do more than just pay rent on time, but perhaps, even, perhaps be happy. A job and a house and a new car and a husband and kids certainly weren’t going to do that for me. But, you know what did? Alcohol. Sex. Cocaine.
I careened out of adolescence and into adult hood, riding high on a wave of pills and powders and liquids and dick. These were things that I had learned about while reading about the New York Punk Rock scene in the 1980s, and for some reason I thought that my life in Oakland would be exactly like that, but what I didn’t know was that, as a woman of color in the violent city of Oakland, California, my pursuit of being ‘artsy’ that paraded around clad in knee socks and addiction was not going to be the peachy beach dream of being a white boy in a noise band in New York in the 1980s. I was not going to be Lou Reed or Iggy Pop or Jean Michel Basquiat or Andy Warhol or some locally lauded art icon, mostly because my genetic predisposition made me a token, even in a city full of what our culture at large considers to be ethnic tokens: people of color. Also: women. There are very few people who skip going to college and choose to get into drugs and debauchery, call it art and then succeed. I am not one of them.
It took me a long time to learn that lesson, and while it has been fucking scary at times it has, for the most part, been thrilling and even fun. I’m still fucked up, but luckily I managed to land somewhere where I can blend in with the rest of the fuck ups. I don’t know exactly why I’m as fucked up as I am, but it’s okay. I’ve accepted it and moved past that worrying stage where I overly self analyze in order to ascertain what exactly can I fix about myself so I can get to a point where I can begin to want that car and that house and that husband that had been shown to me when I was 17. I haven’t figured it out, and I still don’t want those things, although part of me wants those things, but there is no way in hell that I’m going to put in work to get them. I’d like for them to fall in my lap. I would let them fall in my lap. I know that’s absurd, but, hey, a girl can dream, right? That’s how I got here in the first place.