Yeah, so…three months. It’s been three months since I’ve updated this blog. Yeah. A lot has transpired since. I mean, it’s been a crazy summer, huh? Plenty of stuff happened. Most of it good. Some of it terrible. But that’s life, eh? The ‘middle’ seems boring, and safe. But that’s where we all strive to live. You can’t stay up in the stratosphere forever, just as you can’t dwell in the abyss too long.
One kid that maybe lingered down there a bit too long was a great, bright, funny kid named Palermo. I loved that kid. He ran around with some odd (in some cases ‘nerdy’) friends. I totally relate to that. He was part of a crazy, multi-ethnic, multi-racial extended family, one that my wife and kids and I are all part of by proxy. It’s a clan, a group of mismatched puzzle pieces, equally brilliant and foolish, much greater, much stronger, than the sum of its/our parts. I am of that clan. So is one of the very best friends I’ve ever had, a gal so bad-ass and beautiful…she’s like a real-world Kara Thrace, but with more martial-arts training. But neither she or myself or anyone else in our clan could ultimately help her nephew Pale (pronounced Pah-lay, Palermo’s family nickname) when he decided that the best thing for him to do was take his own life. God damn it, why did he have to go and do that?
That’s one of the worst parts, or at least top ten, about the whole situation. That every single one of the rest of us has to ask that question over and over, and be no closer to the answer, no closer to understanding what was going on in his life, in his mind. What could be so awful, what could make him feel so hopeless? And then other strange, stupid thoughts creep in during all this wondering. Thoughts like ‘maybe he figured it was only logical? Maybe he weighed all the options and came to the conclusion that the effort to repair what he believed to be an impossible situation (or series of them) just wasn’t worth it anymore?’ Shit, we’ve all hit ‘reset’ on a game we couldn’t beat, gone back and started the level from the beginning, flipped the stupid Monopoly board over, turning the entire bank into a ticker-tape parade of multi-colored pastel bills, that little fuckin’ doggie into a bullet, the dice into meteors, while you scream “I QUIT!! I HATE THIS STUPID GAME!!”
And you know what? Every time you’ve done that out of frustration, admit it: it felt sorta good. The frustration just gets so bad you say “TO HELL WITH THIS AND EVERYTHING!! BOOM!” And you storm off and pout and light a cigarette or check your Facebook or just chill, and then it’s a big exhale, letting your breath out with a long hissing sound like air from a punctured bike tire, and you’re better. You feel SO much better. The pressure and frustration are gone. So you go back into the living room or wherever, and you see them.
Your friends and family, glaring at you through slitted eyes as they pick up all the crap that you just wrecked. Putting the bills and cards and dice and tiny, plastic, red and green hotels and houses, back where they’re supposed to be: the box, because nobody feels like playing anymore anyway. And maybe one of your closest friends shakes his head and says “Dick move, man.” And then you feel like crap, but you know what? It’ll be okay. They’ll get over it. You’ll play again.
But see, Pale can’t. He can’t play with us anymore, and that sucks. We, as a clan, played kickball. He helped my kids climb trees while discussing Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and he and his buddies demonstrated Titanfall on the (then) new Xbox ONE. That shit ain’t ever gonna happen again, at least not in this world. And that’s too bad.
Bottom line: nobody knows why Palermo decided to check out. I mean, some of us probably almost get it. You’re not supposed to talk like that, but let’s not bullshit each other. You’ve thought about it at some point, you have. Some low night when she won’t return your calls, some day after seeing him at the mall, happy with her, happier than you ever remember him being with you. Losing the job, failing the test, wrecking the car. Sometimes it’s something absolutely stupid. The cat crushes and walks all over the project you’d just spent hours and even days on. You drop your coffee and it explodes all over the front of your new dress right as you simultaneously stub and probably break your big toe in a rush to answer the door only to find your sour-faced landlord standing there, demanding to know when you intend to pay your rent (which is a week overdue.)
It happens. You almost break down completely. You stand at the edge of the abyss and look down and think, “Maybe this isn’t worth it.” But most of us…most of us…back up slowly, step by step. We shake it off. We sigh, and maybe we dive into a whole tub of pistachio-almond ice cream or watch Superbad or smoke a cigarette or do a shot (escapism and substance abuse isn’t the long-term answer, you know…but damn if it doesn’t get some of us over the hump now and then) and we pick up where we left off. Some of us, like Pale, just don’t get that lucky, I guess.
So, anyway, Palermo is gone. And we’re still here. I asked my dead friend Ed for advice on what to tell people about the afterlife and all that. I mean, hell…he’s an expert. But Ed just rolled his eyes and said “Really? Shit, you’re gonna need a whole ‘nother blog for all that. This one’s already too long.” I reminded him that this was serious stuff we were blogging about, and he raised his hands in an ‘I surrender!’ pose and said “Hey! Your show!“ and he’s goddam right it is.
I’ll deal with you later, Ed. Crazy ghost.
Palermo is gone. That sucks so hard. Especially for the ones that have to clean up the mess, put the Monopoly game back in the box. We’ll sure as hell miss that kid. We do miss him. We will. But the thing about Monopoly is that there are always some dumbasses willing to play. And it’s always frustrating, and it takes forever, but that’s not the point of the game, is it? No, it’s the one activity that your eight-year-old cousin, your grandma, and your dad can all play, and everyone has the same shitty experience. And despite yourselves, you laugh. And you remember that one time when the board got tossed all to hell and gone, scattered so far around the dining room that you’re still finding pieces of it to this day. God, remember that day? That was so crazy. Oh, the look on your face! You were so mad!
Yeah. So anyway, you rolled doubles. Go again. I own all the orange properties, and you’re gonna pay me soooooo much MONNNAY!
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