Around this time, last year, I was careening down a mountain road in a fast car that I didn’t own, with a friend I’d later stop talking to and another one who’d later become my girlfriend.
It’s been my 4th of July thing for a few years, now.
It was a magical time in my life.
On the sound-system, was some strange combination of AC/DC, Calvin Harris and another artist’s song that I’d probably heard around 1000 times.
(Definitely not country, though.)
I still listen to a number of those tracks, for nostalgia’s sake.
Highway to Hell feels like my soundtrack, in a lot of ways.
26 felt like an awkward, in-between year but it was also marked by some of the most significant, fun, loving, memorable, and difficult times in my life.
I think, a few weeks earlier, my mom had been diagnosed with cancer — a massive lump on her kidney.
(And the doctors would quickly determine it wasn’t a big deal, but for a while there I cried.)
A few weeks after that, I’d been sitting at a fancy bar in a Hyatt in Chicago when I got a call from my mom to tell me that my uncle had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
It was terminal, she said.
In early August — because you become far more expedient in your planning when somebody’s dying — I booked a trip out to Kentucky to visit family.
It was full of heavy food, drinking, hot weather, warm hugs, and love.
Lots of love.
Somewhere between absolute love and death, that’s where my existence always seems to lie.
Right on that line.
A few months later, I took the day off on my birthday in November and rented a car with over 300 horsepower and enough grip to make any turn on a mountain road equal parts terrifying and exhilarating.
I drove it like a maniac because sometimes you need to live a little.
(And fortunately, those two days were in the middle of the week so nobody was on the road.)
I think my girlfriend and I, at the time, we were in that weird in-between place.
Neither of us really knew where the relationship stood but it felt like it was over.
A few weeks later, it was.
That hurt my soul — I’m looking at my calendar from around that time, but everything looks and feels like a blur.
At some point, on the morning of November 11th, I parked the fast car I’d borrowed for the day on a gravel run-off where you could overlook the sprawling Colorado countryside and see Denver in the distance.
It was at around dusk.
I started talking into my phone — I think it’s easy to get yourself to cry when you reflect on all of the amazing things that have happened in your life in the past year.
And then you put all of the little shit in perspective when you realize just how amazing you have it.
I felt up the leather dash and put my hand on the leather shifter knob and could just feel the car breathing.
And me, alone with my thoughts and my anxieties and love.
Moments later, I’d be hurtling close to death when the car nearly stepped out on a sharp corner going close to 80 on a tight, mountain-road.
The day before — on the afternoon of November 10th — I’d kidnapped one of my friends to go to Golden and he sat in the passenger seat as I essentially drove the car into hell.
We were talking, for a lot of the trip, but towards the end, it quieted down because I think he assumed he was going to die.
The music was drowning out our thoughts, too.
Adrenaline was shooting through my system because I needed the fix.
At some point, he broke the silence and said, “If I die today, I think this would be a pretty good way to go out.”
Fast. In a nice car. A beautiful view.
I was immensely happy — you could feel the smile on my face even if you didn’t exactly see it.
I thought about that a lot that day, too — what if I died today?!
I think about death a lot.
I try to do things that edge me just a little bit closer toMountain biking
n-biking, skiing, driving fast cars, talking to and working with people that I have no right to engage with that seem to get me.
And as we hurtled towards another sharp corner that we likely would’ve gone off and into oblivion if the brakes cut out, I couldn’t help but think about how far I’d come in that last year, too.
Those last few months, even, in 2016.
“Me too,” I said.
I smiled, slammed hard on the brakes and turned in.
The car held on.
Exiting the corner, I continued hard on the gas and kept snaking down the curvy road.
Hurtling into madness.