This Monday marked ten years since Elliott Smith stabbed himself in the chest twice. On the anniversary of his death, I found myself crying in front of a Safeway grocery store behind the wheel of a car that doesn’t belong to me. His music was not even playing.
I don’t know why Smith did what he did, but I do know that my friend Jimmy recently made me a tape of songs so sad, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were both dead by the end of the week. The Superior Sadness has fully invested in so people I know. Why do beautiful things start? End? What’s up with horrific trauma, anyway? Besides a serious drug problem and lack of a sharp knife (seriously, it’s nub-city in my kitchen), what is keeping me from the same fate as Elliott Smith? Depression is depression is depression.
It was something about anniversary, the tragedy in numbers and clearance of days that led me to break down in the parking lot. Maybe I’m an easy cry, but in that car, on that night, I couldn’t help but ask, “HOW WOULD ELLIOTT FEEL ABOUT THIS LIFE, MY LIFE?”
Probably pretty fucking horrible. He’d likely stab himself in the chest twice over.
Here’s what I’ve determined in the days since: passing time can be abusive and patience is massive motherfucker. We all have our battles. Sure, I’m going through a second breakup with the dude-of-all-dudes, but I’m pretty alright with it. My job is incredibly trying on a daily basis, but ultimately worth the tests. I’m in a city with no scene, sans my favorite people, but being alone isn’t so bad.
I have developed and reshaped my sadness to work for me to the point where it’s almost endearing. I have forever identified as Miss Misery, and though it fluctuates, I don’t suppose my inherent optimism will ever fade.
Perhaps in collaboration with sharp needles and a heavy bottle, a fade in optimism is what happened to Elliott Smith.
Instead of stabbing myself any number of times*, I write letters, eat lettuce, and get all “Namaste, brothers and sisters” when necessary. This is what’s keeping me breathing this week. Until you find your own set of tools—which you will, I promise—don’t do it, dude.
by A. Maloney
*Disclaimer to my therapist, friends and family: this will not happen.