Once in a while, one of my guys from the tour would find me and would rub my back for a minute or ask if I needed anything, and offer unspoken sympathy. I wanted to explain what I was going through, but I couldn’t explain and I felt there was nothing anyone could do to help me, anyway.
At Amherst, I went outside and had a walk around the campus after load-in. The air seemed heavy, pressing on me from all sides, like I was under deep ocean water. My mind kept repeating, “The world is a dark and lonely place. The world is a dark and lonely place.” I found a wooden bench along a brick walkway among some bushes and under a tree. I sat down, looking out over a grassy hill that led down to a soccer field.
I felt as if I was made of very thin glass. I was afraid that the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees might knock me off my bench and send me falling to the bricks, shattering into a million tiny shards.
A twig landed on my pant leg. A spider scurried up its web between two bushes next to me to check on the bug it had snared. A grackle squawked and I winced. Nature’s sounds and stirrings went on harmonizing discordantly at full force, broadcasting their harsh indifference to my wretchedness.
It was very clear to me at that moment: the night falls and the day breaks and they don’t stop for anyone. And sometimes a baby bird falls from its nest before its little wings ever have a chance to fly, and it’s dragged away to some shaded spot where, before long, its bones and feathers and black sunken eye-holes are covered in leaves, and forgotten, as if it had never even existed.
How could I get up onstage and sing “Spin the Bottle” knowing all this?
Through the looking glass
I became fixated on windows. There was a lot of downtime spent waiting, hanging around before and after soundcheck and before and after the show, while equipment was being set up and broken down, and while opening bands were playing. I began spending all of my spare time studying the windows in the campus buildings we were stationed in each night. The first thing I would do as soon as I came upon a new window was to see if it opened, and if it did, how and how far. Some didn’t open at all. And some opened wide enough for a person to fit through. I would nestle myself as comfortably as I could right up next to the glass and gaze out, pondering what would happen if I jumped and hit the ground below. I envisioned the blow knocking me unconscious, and thought how wonderful that would be. How wonderful it would be to sleep, I mean, and to not wake up for an extended period of time, until my depression had lifted.