Note: I’m still kinda flailing to figure out if I’ll ever assemble another book. I have no idea if this will be part of it. But I like this story. So enjoy.
There have been many nights in my life I struggle with discussing. Many days too but hell follows me mostly at night. What night haunts me the most? Of all my many meltdowns, my many mistakes, one haunts me forever.
I remember almost nothing of the day leading up. I’m sure it was a boringly normal day. I know it doesn’t matter to the story. Doomsday rarely gives signs of its approach.
What I remember is this. I remember a billing issue with my satellite radio. I remember having a violent meltdown at work filled with screaming. I remember finding out I was wrong. I remember getting yelled at by my coworkers. I remember leaving. I remember having dinner with my dad. I remember going home.
That’s not a satisfying story but here’s the truth. I’ve blocked most of the details. There’s a cloud in my mind over that night. It’s something I don’t want to look back at. I remember the disastrous events of my time in West Memphis in crushing detail but this? My mind blocked.
So why tell a story that isn’t one? Because you need to know I had a meltdown the night before I did the most drastic thing I’ve ever done to escape my illness.
At dawn, after a night of almost no sleep, I got in my car and I drove. I got on I-40 and I drove because I decided I was going to spend the day in Memphis.
See right at that moment I hated myself so much. I had just laid bare exactly how autistic I was. I had just given the newsroom a complete floor show of screaming and crying. There was no doubt how broken I was. I was so humiliated. I wanted to vanish. I couldn’t vanish and I wasn’t suicide prone. So I pulled the next best thing. I ran.
Getting in my car felt powerful that morning. As the sky hung gray above me, I thought I was getting free of me. Sure I hadn’t taken a single standard trip step. There was no CD. There was no Mountain Dew in the car. No gas. But I was going!
I made it 1/4 of the way.
I stopped in Carlisle to get gas and Dew. When I got out of my car, I was hit with a wave of nausea. What the hell was I doing? I wasn’t ready to go to Memphis. I didn’t want to go somewhere happy under this cloud. I was out of my mind, literally.
I did grab a bottle of Dew. I did gas up. But stopping made me see a truth. I was running from myself. And what the hell would that accomplish? I threw my meltdown. That would not and could not be erased. Just as the ones to come, for there will always be those, could not. You can’t outrun what you’ve done.
So what did I do instead? I didn’t go home. Oh hell no I didn’t. What I did instead was run to Benton. I took out a hundred bucks because I needed a different form of escape. I bought a hardcover Archie set and a DVD set of The Office. I embraced what I loved to keep me ok.
A few weeks later I went to Memphis. I had two trip CDs. An audiobook and an Elvis set. It was a great trip.