Throw out the clichés and remember the original thoughts behind the phrase "It was the best of tinmes, it was the worst of times.
He was a student at a famous music school
but had a black depression keeping him so low he could barely stand.
He was in demanding classes and ensembles all day and played at night at a downtown Boston jazz club.
8:00am till he got back to the dorms at about 2:00am for several months on end.
Hee can focus on a day when he took a break from a class where he was expected to be -with only 7-8 other students he knew the professor would know he was missing and I would have to cover for himself since the professor was also his private- lesson drum instructor,.
who really cared.
He distrusted this professor, however, since he wanted him to seek help. These things were still taboo in these days.He just felt exposed and misunderstood and ashamed.
He'd just tell his professor he was sick...
(which really wasn't lying since he was horribly, horribly depressed, although "they "meant physically sick. Only.
So, on this day, our boy walks over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge from Boston to Cambridge, a city he loved even more than Boston. And still dreams about it after 20 years.
Everyone was students. He walked past a Massachusetts Institute of Technology roman-pillared grey building with intricate architechural borders and gargoyles buildings on his right.
A whole rack of bicycles, maybe 30 of them all in a row all locked up on a steel fence with chains.
He imagined these students must have everthing in the world
They're the world's brightest students. Look how healthy they are.
They have incredible futures.
Though he saw no irony in his situation with everyone else assuming he had it made.
You can't see depression.
Walking down the road.
Harvard students took issue with MIT students being the brightest.
They referred to MIT as the "technical school down the street."
Cambridge took pride in being the last major city to get cable TV.
Their pursuits being far nobler.
They also figured they'd be the first to be targeted in a nuclear war because all the world's best and brightest were there.
He and his best friend/roomate used to walk to harvard and follow prospective students touring the campus draped by figures of authority using well overdone exaggerated upper class tones and accents and attitudes.
They seemed to acquire such sudden british accents- no matter where they were from. Jersey. Long Island. Brazil.
It was clear they considered themselves to be the pinnacle of wisdom and knowledge and authority.
This was IRRESISTABLE.
We HAD to be smartasses and follow them around these all important personages on their tours of "Haaarvard." and we imitated them, mirrored and parodied them.
A couple of them may still remember them, he's embarassed to say, now.
And still there he was, depressed and alone, walking the sidewalk path back over the charles as harvard crews went rowing by in their healthy, respectable, accomplished -future already determined-lives.
They were going to win.
They rowed by in their funny and presitigous boats, all dressed in uniforms.
He mused they were in another world entirely.
No one in their winning world ever thought about or considered suicide, or so he imagined.
He tried so many ways to cure himself of his moods. He tried to absorb the local atmosophere.
Maybe that would cure him.
So, back on the boston side he strolled along cobbled bleaker street for miles humming the simon and garfunkel tune of that name to himself
Back when he was a teenager living in his parent's home he used to buy Moody Blues albums because that was the the closest he could get to anyone at all saying anything about depression.
He hoped the music would be the answer to cure his depression without having to ask an adult for help.
There was no safe adult to turn to. His parents didn't even want him in the first place-they'd gladly use it to justify disposing him in some institition.
They'd come out smelling like roses, after years of child abuse behind closed doors. .
They'd get rid of him. Plus, everything he said or did from then on in would be held in that light.
There was a place to go in boston that always helped him feel a little reief. That place was Wonderland.
Wonderland was the last stop on the Blue Line of the Metro Boston Transit Authority subway or whatever it was called when it finally got above ground.
You were whisked to the shore of the Atlantic. A little fishing village away from crowds.
Healthy salt air. He could just feel the city smog just drop off.
He thought he could probably just walk into the ocean and drown himself. No one was around to stop him or save him.
He felt cowardly, though.
So, then he'd hurtle back in the train back into the city for more heat and oppressive smog and very well-dressed people racing by with important places to go and be and who never saw or knew you or wanted to.
Back in the city-He started from the funky Green Line boylston street subway stop that was close to berklee.
Underground there was the edge of the cement that quick
fast, sharp immediate death if you jumped in front of a train. instant death but was it very extremely painful for a time?.
still if you timed it right, it seemed be a very fast sure shot at suicide.
the train came so fast down screaming squealing metal grating brakes
plenty of time to just take a step too far. the train will be coming soon.
no one would probably know you to see so they wouldn't be adversely affected by watching your suicide and not intending to or wanting to.
the only ones he'd be likely to run into that actually knew him would be a few berklee students and of these maybe one or two who actually would know you personally.
the berklee students were easy to spot because they'd usually have guitars strapped to their backs or stick bags if they were percussion principals, like i was.
a few had violins but they were probably from the new england conservatory down the street a ways.
they were in a different world too.
the classical, pompous, authoritarian only rich white people listened to them in the symphony halls, more than a few berklee jazz cats from all over the world (wrongly) thought.
also the symphony hall green line stop was right at their school.
oftentimes (usually berklee) musicians, students and faculty alike in this music dreched, multi-cultured oasis with people from around the globe played for money,and exposure, leaving an open case or something where people could drop coins and bills.
but the time at the boylston st stop where i knew the electric guitar player who was down there playing for handouts and exposure and deserving them, also
---some background-our boy had gotten into drugs while trying to treat his own miserable black depression while he was still in high school.
At Berklee, he'd gotten into a progressive rock band that could have made it into the New England Rock Hall of Fame.
He was playing incredible drums. But he played so much that drums weren't any fun anymore. He actually hated to play. When there was such enormous problems hanging over his head.
He was supposed to ignore that and just "do stuff." Like a robot without feelings.
Ironically, it was at this point that Berklee students and teachers alike were finally taking notice of his drumming. That is really saying something , considering the calibre of musicianship at the school..
this band was going places, but he couldn't keep it up.
And his narcissistic alcoholic mother was only too delighted at his failure.
She came to take "home" hundreds on miles away to a place that had never been a real home to him.
Where he was in no danger of being ambitious at all. Where he was certain not to succeed at anything.
Oh yes. SHE always knew what a horrible human being he truly was.
She told him so all the time. When he was a helpless victim to her violent whims.
He tried to kill himself with pills before he went to college but changed his mind and forced himself to throw up. He tried not to make any noise so he awaken his loving family.
They'd have put him away if they knew..
And even though he moved 600 miles away to boston, he COULDN'T get her cruel words, names and judgements out of his head.
So. There was Steve, the greek god lead guitarist and vocalist jamming out in the subway with his electric guitar and power-pac amplifier.
Our boy had recently been fired from the band and they had no replacement.
The band was gone. Defunct.
He didn't want it to be that way. but felt powerless to change. He just couldn't return to his former virtuosity. He was depressed and contemplating taking his own life.
Back to the subway station with mom and Steve.
There was the everpresent heat and the urine stench with big mommie clutching those purse strings.
it wasn't sexy sadie, it was the beatles song about the man with big mom and an elephant gun who ruined everything and was a coward to boot.
"Hey, Bungalow Bill, What Did You Kill, Bungalow Bill."
...."In case of accident he always took his mom."he sang.
Steve stood there in the dimmed light and exaust heat and stench. sweat pouring down his body, long blond hair dazzled down gilmmering in beads of water in the artificial underground light.
The guitar player turned right towards our boy. Eyes glowering, shooting arrows in to my eyes bent over his axe, face contorted in anger.
He knew the dream was probably shattered.
And there was really no "probably" involved. At all.