So in a way, today’s post is a sequel to yesterday’s. You’d think it would take place right after it. Yesterday’s post was about the year I was eighteen, so you’d think this one would be about when I was nineteen. Well, it sort of is. But most of the action took place long before I was nineteen, or eighteen even.
I talked about death a lot as a kid. I guess I still do. Death is a fascinating subject. I’ve certainly thought about my own death a lot, and it’s no secret on this blog that I’ve attempted to end my life on more than one occasion (the big one being when I was seventeen). But from my early teens, I never expected to die at seventeen; I expected to die at nineteen. Or so I said. I don’t know precisely when, and I don’t have the foggiest idea why, but I started telling people that I’d had a vision that I would die at age nineteen. In fact, I had a few details about it too. I told people that I would die at age 19, and it would involve a red car and an underpass. I remember an image of myself floating away from the car, above an underpass that looked suspiciously like one a quarter-mile from my childhood home, where our road went under Interstate 81.
The thing is, I don’t think I ever really had such a vision. I think I just started talking about it. I have to speculate about my motivation, but it’s a good guess that it was an attempt to get attention. So much of what I did in childhood was about trying to get attention. But I think I started to believe it. I can remember that image of me floating above that underpass so clearly. When I invented this vision, did I want to die young? I don’t think so. Did I even think of nineteen as young, when I was thirteen? Probably not. So what was this all about? Well, I was also talking about suicide a lot as a preteen. I didn’t mean it, not then. Although I do remember a time when I was twelve when I felt so guilty about something that I wished there was a gun in my bedroom. But I think I just talked. I just talked and talked and talked because it got me noticed. It got me validation. It got me attention. It got people thinking about me, wondering about me, worrying about me.
But, like most of the other talk about death, I eventually learned that I upset a lot of people with talk of my impending nineteen-year-old demise. In particular, my family weren’t exactly happy about it, and they all remembered it when my 19th birthday came around. By that point, I didn’t really think much about it, and I certainly didn’t believe in it. But I do recall where I was the night before my 20th birthday. On the last night that I was nineteen, my girlfriend and a few friends and I were at the Perkins near our college. I must have told them about the “vision” at some point, because the whole evening was filled with jokes at my expense about how it could still happen, even here at the restaurant. Stories about cars hitting underpasses with such force that the entire underpass is launched through the air, only to land on us all while we drank our coffee. I think I got tired of the jokes pretty quickly, but it was the least I deserved after putting people through what I did.
I never really knew the power of words back then. I hope I do now.