It’s nearly half past three in the morning as I write this on the 16th of June, Youth Day, J-Rab’s birthday.
It was a night that started out like many others have, with some vague plans to meet up and have a couple drinks with some friends, the few that we have in Cape Town, and see where the night might take us from there.
As is often the case with my life whenever crazy shit goes down, it was Captain Albatross that sparked everything off. I was sitting at work, the sky completely clouded over and black as the pit from pole to pole when he called, cackling down the phone like the maniac he is.
I love that man. He’s family. But God knows he’s out of his fucking mind.
At first I thought it might be a full moon. They call them ‘lunatics’ for a reason, people like the Captain. But it was much worse than that. An eclipse supposedly happened tonight but none of us saw it.
We were too busy ordering drinks. Drink after drink after drink. Spirits. They call them that because when you swallow them something else starts to take over, something that isn’t you, and if you push it far enough you black out completely and for those murky hours to follow you change, and every bad thing inside you comes out.
By the time we met up with the Captain, it was already too late. He was two hours into his own private party and literally settled his tab moments after we arrived and left.
Deus absconditus. Loaded the dice and left the game.
Barbarian joined us at that exact moment and the feeling was good. The three of us, J-Rab him and I drank a drink or two. We talked a gigantic load of shit, we laughed and we drank more.
Me, I had a good buzz going. I kept it tapping along. That overwhelming need to drink myself out of myself was far, far away. It has been for some time. I must be getting old.
I was just enjoying the company of the people around me, listening to them get louder, smiling politely.
Fast forward to three hours later and all around me there was damage.
It was just people falling over other people, falling over other people. It was just shouting and spitting. It was just drinks tipping over and smashing to pieces on the floor, while cigarette smoke hung like a shroud of death above us all.
I wished I was more drunk but I was glad that I wasn’t. I’m the only person who’s going to remember what happened, but I was fine with that.
Until I got into the car to drive the three blocks between there and home and I started to think.
The people I choose to give a shit about, they are damaged, all of them. They have been bludgeoned by chance more than once and sometimes I feel like I have to squint to see them beneath all the scars.
It kills me, it really does, how ill equipped we to deal with this life. How innocent and pure we are at the beginning and what happens to us after that.
It’s a fucking hard life for us all, but instead of accepting that fact and trying to make it easier for one another we deny it and try to pretend that our lives are so much better than the next person’s and we are so much happier, so much more successful, so much more fulfilled.
We care so much about what other people think that we fail to see that they’re just as fucked up as we are.
We damage ourselves, we damage the people around us and we are damaged by them in return.
I saw that damage tonight, ugly as it was, and wished I could have done something to have prevented it or fixed it in some way, but I can’t.
None of us can. It’s just life. And tomorrow we’ll all wake up nursing aching heads and tongues dry as sawdust and we’ll just carry on with our lives, brush our teeth and pretend everything is fine and nothing ever happened.
Life is easier with the blinkers on.
If you’re lucky enough to afford that luxury.