On August 23rd, 2013, I drove to the Pacific Ocean at midnight with a girl I knew immediately that I disliked very intensely. She was a self-described “gothic Lolita girl” and had arrived at the gates of my house wearing cat ears and clown make-up and six-inch glittery heels. Inside my head a voice screamed out in terror. It was not my voice. It was my father’s: “Ryan, no.”
We drove north, winding through the darkness with the ocean a far drop below until we reached Stinson Beach. There she took off her enormous shoes and I thrust my hands into my pockets and we walked the beach under moonlight, seeing very little and feeling nothing. She told me about all the men who were in love with her, and how she didn’t care at all, and how she had almost overdosed in an abandoned factory in Detroit the previous winter, and then showed me a tattoo she had gotten of some football team—I don’t even remember which one. Then she explained every relationship she’d ever been in and how many times she had cheated on them and how really she only liked very tall guys who had poor social skills. And to all of this I stared at my shoes, half-buried in the sand, and said, “Oh.”
At 1 a.m. I sent my friend Delicious a note about my well-being: “This is literally the worst ‘hanging out with a girl’ experience I’ve ever had.”
An hour later we were rocketing through the forested roads on the edge of Muir Woods and she revealed to me how ass-backwards she truly was. She said she didn’t like sandwiches, hated avocados, hated movies, loved San Francisco, and that lyrics were exponentially more important than the music accompanying them.
She had a tattoo on her ankle, which she somehow showed me while also driving a car at 50 mph, that said, in Icelandic, “EVERYTHING MATTERS.” She told me her boyfriend at the time, a (in her words) “dumb-as-shit skinny Dutch model with a big dick” had gotten one that said, also in Icelandic, “NOTHING MATTERS.” And she called him a “grumpypants” and I felt my fucking innards begin to rot.
And I thought to myself, “Well, this is it. This is the last night I will ever care about anything.” (It had been a long time coming.)
She put on her favorite song, which was by some asshole whose name I can’t even remember, and began crying. She said it was the most beautiful song she had ever heard in her life. All I heard was every cell in my body screaming upward into that pale and terrible nothingness where I was headed. I could feel the sickness in my bones.
She dropped me off at 3 a.m. and hugged me and I put a limp and lifeless arm around her and got out. Inside the house I went into my cousin’s room and told him it was all over. He, half-asleep, assured me I would be fine.
In the morning I awoke and knew I was dead. I picked up my phone and told my master, Big Delicious, what it was I felt (or didn’t feel): “I woke up today and realized I finally don’t give a crap. Is this what it feels like to be you?”
To which he responded almost instantly: “Yes. But you haven’t reached total enlightenment yet. We must meditate on the concept that fear is everything and that everything is nothing. Only then can we achieve mastery over death.”
“She succeeded,” I said, “in doing what no other person who has come before has been able to do: she plunged me into that darkness from which no human can return.”
“Freedom,” said Baby Delicious, “terrible, terrible freedom. Thank god for this girl, really.”
“My ego exploded into moondust like an hour ago so I can’t feel anything anymore,” I said. “My sense of self is PAST TENSE.”
Delicious delivered his final line of wisdom while I was putting the kettle on: “We need a comet the size of Saturn to hit this rock we live on.”
The only thing I could say in return was the only thing anyone could say: “Yeah. We sure do.”