Submitted by M.
It’s 4am on a Thursday night and I’m gallivanting around the Lower East Side with my new friends.
I am blackout drunk and I don’t remember much of anything. I have a dandelion tucked behind my ear and a sunflower stalk gripped in one hand like a scepter. We march onward like drunken royalty in the darkness, stumbling over curbs, our lives illuminated by the buzzing lampposts and a smattering of clouded stars, with our laughter to guide us.
Sometime in the night, we plucked the sunflowers from a flowerstand. Stupidly drunk. Adorned with our stolen scepters, crowned in inebriated stupor, we walked wherever our drunken feet took us.
We bounced from bar to bar, each visit shorter than the last. At each bar, my three friends screamed raucously at the bartenders, “Hey this is M!!! It’s her birthday!!”
Then the birthday shots came.
I don’t remember much of what happened.
It wasn’t my real birthday. They didn’t know my real birthday. I had just met these three people only a few hours before.
Because the story is, the pilfered sunflowers, the carefree town romping, and the birthday celebrations were tributes. Libations to life. Because only a few hours ago they were just strangers. Strangers who intervened with my decision to jump into the incoming train – the A train at West 4th station to be exact – at 12:43am on a Thursday night in 2013.
Let me rewind the tape.
I was 23, stupid, and depressed. Suicidal depressed.
I entertained many ways of dying everyday, particularly at night, coming home from my martial arts practice and prior to that, my job, and both seemed fruitless. My life was stagnant in many areas and the weight of my depression was always heavy in the hours after light.
I was coming home from another late training session, another night of disappointment – the usual spiral into inconsolable despair and deep self hatred. Ruminating on things bygone, on things that couldn’t be changed. Anger, hatred, and fear. Compacted and unleashed.
I hate myself. I really hate myself. oh God I hate myself. I need to get out of here I want to die someone save me I need a fucking drink.
After the panic attack, I found myself in a rustic bar close to the train station. I ordered a drink. One more, another, and another. I must have looked bizarre as the only girl in a rogue bar, slumped over my mug in my crisp office clothes.
Alcohol is a depressant. Solitary drinking does not end well. Many drinks and several concerned “are you okay”s later, I found myself swaying on the train platform, teetering to the edge, staring for what seemed like hours into the dark tunnel. I waited for the light to come and deliver my salvation.
In the darkest days of my depression, I’ve thought of dying in many poignant ways. Falling, arms outstretched, hair unfurling in the wind. Bleeding in the bathtub, the red blooming like calligraphy from my arms.
Getting splattered a thousand ways with my flesh projectiles hitting people on the platform was not the exit that I fancied.
So I stood there, teetering over the edge. Ugly crying, nose dripping and shoulders heaving. I don’t know why I cried if the blissful end was so near.
Then an arm circled my shoulder. Someone held my hand.
“Hey waat are ye doing? Are yer alright? “
“A pretty gal like ye shouldn’t cry.”
They were from Ireland and Miami. Two Irish girls, one Puerto Rican fiancee, on a vacation in NYC.
They took me back to the bar I had just left (the barstaff were surprised) and asked me where I am from, where I’m going, and what I’m crying about. Drinks were ordered.
Then began the whirlwind of barhopping, gallivanting around town, and the sunflower snatching.
One of the girls took the sunflowers, “Ey it’s NYC, the city of big dreams. Ye have got to enjoy it!”
“We don’t have roses, but this is much better. It’s yellow and bright, like you! (laughs)”
It was a night to remember.
We split a cab home. They took me to my apartment and dropped me off in bed. I woke up to find all four sunflowers laid neatly on my desk with a glass of water.
Somehow they must have gotten my number. Hours later, they called from a payphone, (“it’s NYC and my bloody phone died!!) words still slurred, asking if I’m okay.
They continued to call almost every day for several weeks. Each time they were in a different city.
“It’s fucking Miami baby! Imma introduce my fiancee to my parents”
Calling from a payphone for some odd reason. Sometimes I answered, other times they left messages.
The sunflowers stayed in my room. After a while they wilted, the calls stopped, and I moved on.
That was three years ago. Time hurtles forward and stops abruptly, lurching you into the unknown.
Now I am here, older. Different pains, same refrains. I want to die, la-dee-da.
But I have many beacons that guide me home. I am lucky to have all these loving anchors who make life worth living.
But in my darkest moments, when even the loved ones can’t reach into the hollow, echoing enclosures of my deepest lows, I still think about the calls. The pay phone calls.
“Ey, it’s me. I hope yer swell. Just checking to see how yer doing.”
“Call us back when ye want.”
“Life is great, you are great.”