I was 22 and lived with some great friends in Buffalo. It was quite the bachelor pad really. I'd been set up with two nice machining jobs thanks to family friends, and for the first time in my life, I was financially stable. Laughing at bars with work friends, frisbee golf outings and road trips, stopping by my parents place feeling proud and enabled for the first time ever. At a glance my life seemed pretty ok, promising even. But as the glow of new acquisition and confidence faded, I could feel something taking over. I didn't know it yet, but I was severely depressed.
All the years of bottling my emotions had begun to overflow, and I realized that no amount of material success was going to remedy my wounds. I began to crumble little by little. Bills going unpaid, responsibilities avoided, all in a slow trickle until i felt buried by a landslide of my own shortcomings. I had fully sabotaged myself and manifested all of my internal grief. As much as I tried, I could not find the courage to ask for help. I had beaten my sense of self worth to a pulp. Things were getting dark.
I was drinking a lot and found myself nearly blackout drunk at the wheel more times than i care to admit. Eventually my car was impounded for driving with lapsed insurance. I was humiliated as the cracks began to show, and I didn't know how to explain it to anyone. This is when the fantasy started. I had visited San Francisco when I was 16, and stood at the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge looking down. At the time I had innocently wondered how long it would take to fall all that way to the water. Now it was all I could think about. I quit my job and cashed my last paycheck without telling anyone. The day before I left, I walked to a sporting goods store, bought a hiking pack and some basic supplies. I hid them in the basement to avoid any suspicion from my roommates. In the morning I waited for everyone to leave before getting out of bed. I gathered my pack and some basics. The only comfort item I brought was my skateboard as I walked to the onramp and began hitchhiking. I was on my way to kill myself.
After three days and lots of friendly rides I made it to LA. I had been dropped off on a highway junction and found myself walking towards the big city in the distance. A van pulled over and out jumped a flamboyantly dressed couple. They were self proclaimed Chicano flower children and wanted to know my story. I told them I was going to see family in SF. After sharing dinner with me, they offered to take me to the next onramp. While driving, they told me that the township had just put in a real nice skatepark and offered to take me. I thought why not, and got dropped off there. As I walked up to what was indeed a really nice concrete bowl, a cop briskly walked up alongside me and paused. I froze and stiffened as he said "HEY! You kids get those bikes out of here! This park is for skateboarders." As he walked away, I let out a big breath and had a feeling that maybe I was right where I was supposed to be.