Someone asked me, (okay it was a Bloganuary writing prompt, I don’t actually know any real people), what I would tell my teenage self. What advice would I give?
There are several ways that conversation could go. An almost uncountable number of vectors it could veer down. None of them would be particularly comfortable, and I’d probably hem and haw a bit at the outset.
If I’m being really honest, I might bail on the meeting altogether. I might go to the library for a while. Might grab a beer.
Naw, this would be important, and I’ve got a reputation as a standup guy, so I’d show. I wouldn’t like it. But I’d go.
And there are probably two main points I’d try to make:
Say it sooner
Since it wasn’t until I begged my stepfather to pull the trigger of the gun he’d stuck in my mouth, I’d tell myself to do that as soon as possible. Maybe it wouldn’t have gone the same way if I’d said it at age thirteen, say, instead of seventeen. Maybe then he would have honored my request instead of looking into my eyes and seeing there was no fear. Maybe then I wouldn’t have seen the fear transfer into his eyes and wouldn’t have heard the sound of the gun as it fell from his hand, wouldn’t have seen him walk away without a word. Maybe he wouldn’t have stopped hitting me that day, and maybe the last two months that I lived in his house before leaving for college wouldn’t have been the first pain-free days I’d had in years.
Maybe I’d have heard the report, maybe not. Maybe I would just have been me one second and then me never again.
I would very much like to follow up that revelation with something like, “Boy oh boy, I’m sure glad that didn’t happen!” Fact is, the jury is still out. But that’s another matter. That is years and years of bad decision-making for which, as Led Zeppelin so clearly elucidated, ain’t “Nobody’s fault but mine.” I own it.
The Consolation Prize
Now, supposing I gave myself that sage advice, and supposing it worked. That would mean that theoretically, I lived. Which I did apparently because it is adult me writing this. Right? With me so far?
So let’s say I said it sooner and got away with it. Let’s say it freaked him out so much that someone would rather get shot in the freaking mouth than live another day under his roof, that he decided against it. Or, alternately, let’s say he let me live because I asked him not to. He was like that, too.
In either case, assuming I got out and moved to New York City at 18, the second thing was that I’d seriously recommend you find a way to leave that shit behind you right then and there. Count the day you first went to sleep in the Bronx as the day you were born. Seriously. Find a way to turn that portion of your brain into mush, killing off every memory as far back as they go if need be.
Now I should clarify one thing with you, reader, and with you, teenage Scott: the method you attempted to use to do just that, the booze and the drugs and no food and the no roof a lot of nights… didn’t work, bro. There’s plenty of shit I don’t remember, but all that garbage… the eight years of torture or discipline, tough but necessary – depending upon whose manifesto you believed… yeah I remember all of that. So find a way, just not that one.
The Big Conclusion
Here’s the thing: If I had found a way to do that, to not carry that man chained to my neck for the past 5 decades, then I might have found out a fuck-ton of time sooner that things honestly can get better. Maybe I would have remembered sooner that I was being of pure light who chose to experience the creation I could only manifest in this physical form. Who knows?
I know it now. I’ve remembered. Someone pointed me toward the light, toward myself, and I have begun again. But hell, do I wish I’d started remembering at 18, forgetting and remembering. It would have been a lot to do when you’re still a kid, but damn it would have been better.
You know what? Maybe it’s better if someone else talked to him.