Not to Touch the Earth
To the Rhythm of The Doors and the Rooftop Swells, Ecstasy for the Numb
I’m standing on the roof of a four-story building downtown in a city. I’ve just taken Ecstasy. I don’t feel ecstasy. I feel what I learned later to be verging on a psychotic panic. I’m going to jump off if someone doesn’t stop me, if someone doesn’t touch me.
The sky is clear. Alisha spins and spins, her arms out “Amy, oh Amy I love you,” her red hair flashing.
I tell her she looks like Satan.
I feel like the roof is going to tilt and my body will let itself slide. I’m too embarrassed to speak; the stars pulsating in time with the veins in my temples.
It intensifies. I feel the depth pressure when I look over the edge and then run back to the center and fold, wrapping my arms tight around my legs. Alisha is sliding all over in smooth colors. She’s scaring me. And then suddenly I am fire.
I am I am I am.
My brain in a bell jar, and then I see Sylvia’s head stuffed in the stove and I hear the blade wretch back on my wrist. Suicide. The very word gives me metal chills, the way the “-cide” sounds like a knife slice across cold teeth. I can’t take it. And now I start believing I am going to die. It has been pre-ordained from a higher power that my heart will stop. ….Now
Alisha’s laugh peals through the air and I choke down my fear of the word. It must be obvious, this affair I’m having with “suicide”–so now it feels like a major question on my lips, but I can’t get up and tell her. She’s holding her breasts through a Dropkick Murphy shirt. The moon high over the rooftop glints on the barbell piercing under her lip. Ed, her boyfriend, looks at me like I am a suggestion of a woman and for an intense moment I feel embarrassed.
I’m a train. I need the ultimate climax in everything I do until I’m repelled by fear—that is all that I have learned about myself, living out here. Alisha takes my hand and pulls me through the thick air and into the stairwell and kisses my lips, “Let’s go,” and I hold her hand and crash into another night.
I find myself rocking in the dark wet grass behind my apartment. I don’t know how much time has passed since the rooftop. A few people are here and there, bottles of booze and clear baggies of coke. My head spins and then stops, spins and stops. Someone comes out of a threshold somewhere, and I think it’s my dead father. The familiarity I feel when I turn to look over my shoulder is real. The moon shine’s down on a large, flat, white face. A choker with spikes. I am alarmed at this apparition, and then at this ease of myself seeming to slip between reality and delusion. I feel the blood in my temples pound. I’m tearing at the grass, desperately making piles under a calm facade. My roommates are having a party inside and after what seems like hours of confusion, I see clearly, a thought. An act. I have an idea.
I feel myself stalk. My arms possess waves and my hips are on rails. I eat men like air. Lily comes to me and she hugs my face and dances in the square of light coming from the kitchen window. “Rider’s on the Storm” is humming and rolling through the house. I scream for Bill to play “Not to Touch the Earth,” and before I realize I finish asking, it shakes me to my core—that high organ keys sounding like an Atari ghost chasing me and I smell brown smooth leather boots and jackets and “Wake up GIRL, WE’RE ALMOST HOME!” And we are dancing. Or we were. Or I just thought we did. Because in another moment I am alone in the quiet grass, easing out of a scare and into a numbing. Not a fine numbing. It used to be fine until it started mattering. I lie down and let it, inhaling anything that might fill me—be it words or fantasy or pills or gin—until I am brimming with and drowning in just a reflection of myself, pooling into a glass the man I fuck takes a drink from. Electrified flowers. Naked shoulders.