My last apartment in San Francisco [some six years ago] was out in The Avenues -- in the northwest section of the city, the Richmond District, in the shadow of The Golden Gate Bridge.
When I lived in The City, I had several major bouts of depression and I came to believe what I still believe, that a leap from a bridge, that bridge, was the best way to end one's life -- at least, it is so for me.
One day, I'll take that leap, if only to avoid the descent into dementia that has claimed many of my relatives, including my parents. I'd hate to be around to watch my brain shrivel into confusion. As Woody Allen joked, my brain is my second-favorite organ.
So, being homeless and carless following the Flying Glass incident, with only about $65 in my wallet, I decided a leap attempt was in the cards. I had so very little -- my sociopathic sister having perhaps successfully commandeered the inheritance from my mother for herself, against all that was true and just.
The route from Sacramento to San Francisco has two legs: the first, much the longer one, is by train. Yeeha. Both my recently deceased mom and I were train fans. While it is a short ride, lacking all the train-culture benefits of a Zephyr run to Denver [or, further, to Chicago], it was a bit of a nice ride from Sac'to to East Bay's Emeryville. From Emeryville the ride is by bus, across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco's depressing Bus Station, at 2nd and Mission streets.
I used to work next to the SF Bus Station, so I was familiar with the area, with its mix of new, fresh businesses and blight. The bus station, though, is wholly blight and very much as it was when I worked next to it, 80% abandoned and dirty.
There is a small ticket office inside with cross-country busses disembarking and leaving, but mostly there is a vast interior space that is unutilized. In its heyday -- the 30s? -- the place may have been lively with restaurants and group treks to Reno, but no longer.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in San Francisco is that it was very cold, damn cold -- and here I was without a coat. The cold was welcome, though; my poor dead mother had complained throughout the terrible 10-hour ordeal of her death from sepsis [bacterial blood poisoning] that she was extremely cold. I wanted to feel her pain, encounter some of the misery she had to try to bear -- until her heart gave out.
I had come to The City to die [maybe]; it made sense for me to embrace Mom's recent death, even though we were not terribly close, in most ways.
I don't want to be overly morose here. While I have had "dark nights of the soul" more than a few times, my will to end my pain has always been overwhelmed -- while standing on The Bridge -- by feelings that I can renew my life, somehow, and begin again. Also, I am overwhelmed by how terrorizing a leap into the cold waters would be. Cowardly Tom had always trumped Suicidal Tom before. And since you are reading this now [written on 5/12/08] you know I did not kill myself when I was in San Francisco three weeks ago [ ~ 4/17 - 4/20/08]. Cowardly Tom triumphed, again. Damn him.
While I was in San Francisco, I learned about homeless culture within the bus station there, and the purely cruel policies of the security staff. [I'm unclear about what the security staff was securing at the mostly vacant station, but they were there in large number, dedicated to a mission of keeping people cold and preventing them from sleeping.] More about this is a later post.
When I did get around to my "suicide run," taking a Geary bus out to The Richmond for a walk to The Bridge to attempt my leap it was so incredibly cold, I could barely move. So, I never got closer than a few miles from the bridge. Ah life. Here I am. I continue to live. Breathe in; breathe out.