It is 2:25am on Tuesday April 5 2022.
In almost exactly 24 hours I shall be shaving and showering and getting ready for an airport limo pickup that will take me to PBI — Palm Beach International.
By 9am tomorrow, I shall be deplaning at HPN, Westchester airport in White Plains.
A new day in old haunts.
22 years ago, I used to commute from there to Dulles regularly, for an important job, where I was such an important person.
And then suddenly, just like that, my world blew up.
Many terrible things happened.
In quick succession.
I felt myself reeling in a world that was coming apart at the seams.
That important person, that important job — all gone in the blink of an eye.
The line from swell to skell is not long, and is crossed fast.
How do you get past knowing that everything you truly loved or cared about in life was taken away from you, not once, but many times over?
I dug a moat around myself and filled it with alcohol.
This was not to be some harmless little “slip” weekend bender, Ray Milland-style.
This was to be a deliberate, protracted Malcolm Lowry-esque investigation of the deep fuckits, aka a descent into the Malebolge, whilst shouting out on particularly dissociative occasions the Bressonian rallying cry Au Hasard Balthazar!
Rationalizations for this rejectionist behavior are particularly abundant.
In world seemingly controlled by psychotic tyrants, with fair play a cruel joke and murdered children littering the roadways, why not?
Why not drink every day and night till you’re blind drunk?
Especially if being a good little boy for extended periods got you shafted, over, and over, and over again, until whatever illusions you had lost their ability to deceive.
They say in prison don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.
I accepted the consequences of my decision.
If the world wanted nothing more of me — now that I was over 50 and unemployed while Arab and thus expendable — well, Jeez Louise, I would return the favor.
I was no longer interested in what life had to offer.
The cell I chose to incarcerate myself in grew ever smaller with each passing year.
At first I dwelled on the past.
Happier days. Exaggerating their allure, the drunker I became. This usually worked, until it didn’t.
When the rawness and brutality of the present became too insistent, I blacked out.
The French call this sort of thing le cafard; but it was far more than some mild depression: in effect, it was suicide on the installment plan, not out of cowardice, but to prove a teen rebellion sort of point. Tom Courtenay holding up before crossing the finishing line in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. That sort of thing.
The rhymes I learned as a child would sometimes ring in my head.
Il appelle la mort, elle vient sans tarder
But my body persisted on living.
Eventually, I was a few thousand dollars away from penury, and life on the street, my health compromised by an inherited disease that almost killed me. No, not that one. Or should I say, another one too.
Tomorrow is Wednesday.
Today I shall spend the day bingeing on Season 5 of Better Call Saul, which just dropped on Netflix.
I shall pack a few things — not many, for I have always travelled lightly — and without forgetting Richard Zenith’s marvelous bio, Pessoa.
The dog trainer will come to take my beloved Geeva, who is now sleeping next to me as I type this.
(No worries: I shall be seeing her again in a few weeks when I come back down to get her, after I fix up the place in Westchester.)
And then, by this time tomorrow, where will I be?
Only a few hours away from gradually extricating myself from this dead-end, deadening, charmless phase of my life.
Perhaps that one truly honest person Diogenes was looking for since forever was within him all along.
As they say, in the end, living well — which includes raining the bird down on all those shitbirds trying to take you down — is, usually, the best, most satisfying, carefree revenge.