***Trigger Alert*** Before we start – I’m in no way feeling suicidal
Flash back close to 30 years ago. I was in a dark place and calling my behavior “reckless” would be a huge understatement.
Tarek was from Palestine…the real one, not the one in Texas. He lived there until his early teens and carried a machine gun around town to survive. His family moved to
England to get away from the war and when he finished high school, sent him to Long Beach, CA to attend college.
Tarek excelled at EVERYTHING. There wasn’t a class or a sport he couldn’t conquer and he did it with an easy going fun demeanor, despite a lot of deep seated anger.
Tarek and I had a chemistry instantly and while it would be a long time before we ever acted on that chemistry, we started feeding off of one another’s self destructive behaviors immediately. Being an overachiever and “slightly” competitive myself put us head to head often.
We both thrived off of the adrenaline rush of danger and that of meth. To me, death didn’t seem so bad compared to my life and I wonder now if he felt that way too. Our one attempt at a relationship failed over about a three day span, but the friendship and chemistry never waned.
We parted ways when we both went to our respective homes to “straighten out.” We tried to keep in touch through snail mail, but it was hard. A lot of waiting.
One night during the first few times I considered divorcing my husband, I had a dream about Tarek that was so vivid and so powerful I began trying to find him. I learned his family moved to Spain. I continued trying to find him for years, but the mail kept coming back “no one here by that name”.
Then one night when I was at a “girls night” in my old stomping grounds I found out that Tarek had died a few years earlier, by overdosing. My world shattered around me, like a hallucination, dropping in pieces to the ground and my chest felt like an elephant sat on it. I pretended to be fine, but it was so all consuming, the minutes seems like hours and even after I got home I couldn’t sleep. I felt completely frantic.
Then I remembered the dream and wondered if it was him trying to tell me something. Maybe that he was OK? I could remember the dream in such detail, but he never said anything. We were at a picnic with his girlfriend and just having a nice time. I felt safe and happy and warm. I remember feeling such peace when I woke up from that dream and now I just felt confused.
In the last few years, I’ve dreamt about him many times. I still believe in my heart, he is trying to tell me something, but I just can’t seem to figure out what it is.
This morning I was struggling to get going because my son had a touch of a stomach bug and kept me up. I finally pulled it together and out the door for work about a half an hour later than normal.
I was sitting at a light when I looked up in my rear view mirror and saw a man on a motorcycle and instantly thought of Tarek. I smiled. When the light turned green I accelerated at my usual Mario Andretti speed and I noticed him slide up to me like I was standing still….and that’s when I flashed back to a night on the freeway in SoCal…complete with euphoric, invincible adrenaline.
Tarek and I were headed back to Long Beach, I was in my car and he on his motorcycle. We were going well above the speed limit, weaving in and out of cars like complete idiots, but the rush was like a drug. He would lead for a while, then I would manage to get out in front. We were playfully chasing one another in a dangerous dance with our lives. (and probably the lives of countless others, but I didn’t even consider them in the moment)
As the man on the motorcycle came around me and moved into my lane, I couldn’t resist the desire to keep up with him. My mind raced with memories of Tarek. It was the best I’ve felt in a very long time. After I finally backed off and he was far out of sight, my brain slowed back down to a reasonable speed and so did my car.
Then it occurred to me that not everyone who is feeling suicidal ideates the same. For many it’s a sad decent into the desire to die, but for others the allure of danger is sometimes inescapable because it’s easier to put yourself in harms way then to just take your own life. I wondered if Tarek actually meant to overdose, or if it was an accident during a rush inducing, risky behavior.
I used to be that person and while I haven’t felt the allure in YEARS…I certainly felt it in that 10 minute rush this morning. Maybe I need to take up Sky Diving. I miss Tarek.