I was not in a good place when I had my nervous breakdown. I had been driving for Class Act limo service for two months and had written off that summer to a haze of pot smoke, comic books and gazing at Internet photos of Alexis Biedel with a feeling of cheap and filthy wistfulness. This was back in North Carolina.
It didn't start that night on the golf course, but I guess that night did serve as a kind of overture. I was walking back from my dealer's house. The night was moonlit and humid and I suppose that was what lured me out there in the first place. This is the same place Judy and I would come to have sex on a blanket early in college, on weekends when neither of our dormmates had left town. Because of that nostalgic glow of first love, I had no place more beloved than the golf course at night. I was sitting Indian-style on the sixteenth green, rolling a joint, when I heard the laughter coming up from the other side of the little creek and, while I could not see a thing through the light fog that hovered over the bottom, I had a sinking sensation that it was Judy. Call it prescience.
In minutes, I found myself skulking a sly backtrack through the woods to the parking area and found her blue Geo parked there, the windows lightly fogged, as they will do on an August night in central North Carolina. I crept a little further towards the course, far enough to see the pale forms of figures on a blanket, clothes scattered and to hear soft and happy laughter. And then I left that place, feeling pretty damn sorry.
Of course it was terrible. I felt like my wiring had been ripped out to dangle, sparks a flying where connections once were made. Why? I couldn't say. I hadn't seen Judy in over two years, so much water under the bridge, but the golf course felt like our place; it was our place. I did everything I could to keep my wits about me.
I held it together for two days, despite recurring dreams about a black hole forming in the bottom of the limo as I drove some bachelorette party from one bar to the next. My waking moments were fine and lucid. On the second day, I tried to play my guitar and could not remember how to hold it. Every adjustment I made felt stranger and more wrong. I forgot how to hold a guitar.
No matter, I thought. Weird, but a temporary weirdness. The breakdown came exactly ten minutes later when I was making a sandwich. A solitary ant ran across the table and I reflexively reached out and crunched him under my thumb. I had more than a few ants that summer; killing them was unconscious. Anyway.
I rubbed the corpse betweeen my thumb and forefinger and flicked it aside. At that very instant, I collapsed to the kitchen floor in tears. The Great Wheel of Dharma was on fire and rolling across my frontal lobe. I crawled under the table and watched the world get very, very big. It only lasted a minute, but in that time, I felt exactly how all lives connect to one another. I felt an immense worldwide suffering. Even the laughter I heard sounded sick and twisted, like something from a horror movie. I felt like the cosmic alarm clock had gone off right beside my head and I didn't have the faintest idea how to turn it off.
Of course, it passed. Things like that have to pass, or else we'd all be driving off bridges or sticking our heads in ovens. I quit my job driving the limo and started temping. It quieted my head a lot. It is funny, and I think this true of many people, how ease and repitition become necessary weapons; a fort, if you would, that we build on the banks of our soul to keep out whatever native thoughts are still out there, looking to tear us apart and call us a god.