It was late November about 3:00 in the morning, so pretty goddamned cold. I had been pacing up and down Armitage for a good 20 minutes building up the nerve to try one more time. My left sleeve was torn, blood dripping down my hand, but I barely noticed as I hugged myself trying not to die. I looked up at the window sill, gave a sigh, and then jumped. I could feel the skin on my fingers tearing and the brick digging into my arm, drawing more blood, as I pulled myself up. At some point I thought “I don’t have it in me for another shot” so instead of falling back I desperately threw whatever I had left into my hands and heaved myself up onto the sill. I stood up, turned away from the window, braced my hands on the brick wall, listened for my neighbors for a second, took a breath, lifted my right foot, and — slammed it back into the window as hard as I could.
Shaking my head, “idiot”, I muttered as I jumped down to resume pacing to think of another option. Not going to jail trying to break into my own place… or explain to my sister why our window was broken. Also, knowing myself I probably would have cut a major artery on the broken glass and bled out on the ground.
I tried curling up in the small recess of my apartment building entrance, hiding from the cold, trying to fall asleep just so I could deny the pathetic state of my existence. From that night on I never put my keys in my jacket pocket when going out. Always, phone in left pocket, keys in right, wallet in left butt. Gotta do the pocket check every time I stand up. After a solid 10 minutes I jumped up, hit by the realization that I had to stay warm somehow. I was going to die that night, I was sure of it. I made my way back to Armitage and started walking. Lost in self pity I looked up, saw the beaming lights, and for the first time that night remembered, “I still have my wallet”.
I had walked into Arturo’s maybe twice before in my life, it wasn’t anything special, but this time — salvation. The warmth enveloped me and I floated to a booth, I almost broke into tears as I sank into the cushions. I ordered the milanesa dinner, breaded steak with rice and beans. Even though I only had two bites before completely losing consciousness I’m still sure it was more the greatness of that dish than the finally being warm at four in the morning. It still tasted great four hours later when the blessed waitress shook me awake. When I finally got back into my apartment I didn’t even make it to my bed, I crawled onto the couch and slept for a solid fourteen hours.
The majority of my longest and worst nights are like that, consequences of my own idiocy and stubbornness. Breaking into my top three though comes one that was not my fault in the least, maybe it was genetically, but not a result of anything dumb I had done.
Six weeks of rubber bands, two months of expander, four wisdom teeth removed, 1 year of braces, and finally the last chapter of the darkest period of my life was about to begin. That morning, stomach empty I went under the knife and my jaw was never the same again. I awoke in a panic feeling like I was about to drown, nope, it was nothing, just my mouth filling with blood. I remember someone, I don’t remember who but I think I recognized the voice, instructing me to use the air hose to suction the blood out of my mouth. “Hose? Oh you mean the plastic thing giving the inside of my cheek the most intense hickie in the history of neck sucking.” I unlodged it from my cheek and holy shit I could breath again. That’s when I noticed that the hose and blood were the least of my problems, my mouth was held agape 2 inches by wire and plastic.
Thus began the top three longest night of my life, letting my mouth slowly fill with blood, not wanting to use the hose until I couldn’t stand it any longer, not wanting to dry out my disgustingly chapped and bleeding lips even more. I would have easily traded away the rest of my life just for the feeling of spitting the blood out of my mouth like a man and licking my lips. Let’s just say there were a lot of weird feeling things that night, one being when the nurse pulled my catheter out and I hadn’t even realized I had one in. (To be honest I was so miserable I thought I was just pissing the bed). The most memorable though was the weird feeling of my mouth constantly bleeding and filling up with blood and yet being incredibly dry and thirsty at the same time. It was agony wanting to give anything for a drink but not wanting to take a gulp of what was already in my mouth for fear of throwing up…. which I had already had enough of.
When I finally resigned myself to my fate after an eternity of 15 minutes. I noticed that I wasn’t alone. My brother was in the bed beside me, about 3 feet away, and my mother was curled up in a chair between us. I then realized that I had two buttons one for a painkiller, which was useless to me because pain wasn’t my problem, and another. When I pressed the second I heard a beep and saw my mother pick her head up. She moved over to my bed and stuck what I thought was a small hose into my mouth “goddamnit mom I have a suction hose already in my oh mY GOD WHAT IS THIS NECTAR OF LIFE!” I didn’t even notice until a few seconds later that she had also wiped the drool from my cracked lips.
The rest of the night passed in that way. My mouth slowly filling with blood, the mucus and drool drying and cracking around my nose and lips. When I couldn’t take anymore I would hit the button, dislodge the suction from my cheek to get rid of the blood (practically spitting into it I was so uncomfortable), and then my mother would appear out of the fog with a box in one hand, little straw sticking out, and a napkin in the other, like a vision. She spent the night like that flitting between my brother and I every few minutes.
When I was really young I read “The Search for Delicious”. It’s about the first dictionary in the world being written and the author’s struggle to define ‘delicious’. Something something action action and eventually the whole country is at war about the definition. Right before this great battle all of the knights are really hot and sweating like crazy under their armor. Everyone gets up and goes to a nearby creek to take a drink, upon which they all come to their senses and agree that the definition of ‘delicious’ is cold water on a hot day. I completely butchered the story (I’m not even sure if that’s the real title) but I think about that every now and again. Cold water is amazing, especially when you’re hot and thirsty as hell… but it’s not the best.