For some reason I’ve had old friends on my mind lately, and just the last couple days one in particular. I knew him in high school and he committed suicide some years ago. I’m not sure why I’m thinking of him.
I don’t know that Chad and I would have been friends if not for the fact we had so many other friends in common. Both of us were smart and shy, though while I was intermittently unhappy (in the way of teenagers), Chad was consistently so. This is the burden of truly brilliant minds: they cannot be satisfied, not with themselves, nor with anything or anyone outside of themselves. They are driven, and they see and know too much, taking everything in until it turns on them and consumes them, swallows them like a black hole.
Chad used to come over to my house and just sit. He was always polite but mostly quiet. Sometimes we watched television, sometimes we sat out on the patio with my dad, sometimes we just sat on the sofa and did and said nothing. That probably seems strange, and in retrospect I might even agree, but it suited us. We were strange people. (I still am, I suppose.)
He came to escape his parents, I think. I never met them, never met Chad’s little brother, but I knew that Chad wanted to be an artist and his parents were insisting he become an engineer of some kind. Being brilliant, Chad could have done anything he chose and done it well, but he had a real gift and talent for art. In my industry there are so many artists, so many people who are good and even great at what they do, but I’ve still never known anyone who could draw or paint like Chad could. He once made for me a sort of booklet from artfully cut and decorated construction paper that featured famous quotes about love on every page, the first page being that line from Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on.”
It wasn’t that Chad had any romantic interest in me, of that I’m fairly certain (in fact, my guess is he might have been gay). It was more that he knew me as a girl who desperately needed to feel wanted and loved. It occurs to me now it must have taken a bit of courage for such a shy young man to go to such effort for me.
I don’t know the exact circumstances of his death; it’s not the kind of thing you go around asking about. After I left for university, I lost touch with Chad and just assumed he’d gone off somewhere too—in fact, I’m almost positive he did go to college, at least for a while, though I don’t know whether he finished. A few years ago some of those mutual high school friends were the ones to inform me that Chad had committed suicide, and I wasn’t surprised in the least, sadly enough; in fact, it felt like something I had always known. Maybe when one’s spirit dies, tossing the body after it becomes a technicality. That sounds terrible. I know it does. But that’s exactly what happened to Chad. Something had blocked him; he was left with no other outlet. He had nothing but the pull of that black hole, the mass and quantity of his life and knowledge and experience, and he made the decision to let it absorb his light.
So why am I thinking about him? I don’t know. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned in all this and my subconscious is trying to prod me to attention. Or maybe it’s just that someone mentioned Twelfth Night a couple days ago. Whatever the reason, though, I can’t seem to shake it. I must probe the edges of my own black hole and see what I can discover, all the while working not to be sucked in.