"He must have hit rock bottom."
"No, he must have hit rock bottom with a trap door at the bottom that opened and he just kept falling."
They chuckled at the image and then turned more serious.
"Seriously man," the one said, "I don't understand killing yourself, but if you're gonna do it, why would you jump in front of a train and wreck everyone else's day."
My head nodded understanding the foundation of the conversation and I looked from one to the other. They were concerned about the inconvenience of mass transit being delayed while the authorities scraped up the bits and pieces of a person from the tracks. Their conversation about incomprehensible suicide was nothing more than the set up to the punch line for them.
Four years ago I read a short story called Leaper that was set in the tube of London - it's the subway there. Two folks met and had an adventure as a result of the tube being closed to clean the woman who leapt from the platform down on to the tracks. There was some existential questions going on about the value of one's life at the cost of another. I read the surface annoyance but knew it was a device to get to the deeper bit of the tale.
And of course I've participated in conversations about suicide and how selfish it is and how it inconveniences others or how maddening with which it is to cope. But, I walked up the steps at Lombard Street angry with these two who had it all wrong.
Four days ago, I experienced chaos that I feel I have live through too many times. Some days it was minutes and others it was hours that I had to dig my feet in and muster up all the strength I had in me so that I wasn't low enough to throw myself in front of a train.
Three days ago I felt the effects of the chaos. Fragments of words that were in the air while the chaos occurred. Residual bruising with bumps and bleeding that don't quite make sense. And a quiet solace that I've done it before so I can do it again.
But what am I doing?
I have hit that bottom. I have been in the place where I know that this is it. I'm not going to be any better than I am now. Even with the knowledge and experiences I've collected since the last time I felt on that bottom. Is the trapdoor opening up so I can sink lower? Yes, but it's place that feels safe with a darkness that won't allow me to see in the mirror how disappointing I am.
I feel these things and I am part of something greater. I have people who depend on me. I laugh at everything I can and allow myself to feel the gambit of emotion, mindful of the days when I could only feel nothing. I am not at rock bottom always.
But standing on the platform, awaiting the rattle of the tracks and the howl of Doppler's proposal, I too have thought of dropping down before the oncoming cars. Suicide is not as impulsive as thinking it and grabbing a knife, or as deliberately planned as to not inconvenience anyone. It's a gradual realization that one wants to commit such a permanent act and the counter balance of the inability to talk oneself out of acting impulsively when given the opportunity.
Two days ago I thought further on the train scenario. It seems to be the most angering of all the discussions I've heard and been a part relating to suicide. At the core for everyone not overtly suffering from mental illness and ignorant to the sinking feelings that lead folks through the trap door in which these subway guys spoke, is the sentiment that the corpse was an inconsiderate jerkface who wanted to interrupt others' journey.
Personally, in all the times I've looked at the tracks, I had no thought of anyone else - not to put myself someplace where a family member or friend won't have to be the one to pick up the bits and pieces of me and certainly not how I'm going to inconvenience the masses.
But in a moment when I could sit and reflect on the train, it occurred to me that a train is a way out. In my writing I use a train as a means to confine characters in a small space as well as both a metaphoric and literal means of escape. Within the coach or car of the train, one is getting out from their current darkness. In front of the train, it's quite the opposite, isn't it?