The only time I have been suicidal for any length of time was the winter of 1992 and 1993. I was working as a bureaucrat and trying to put something together musically. But really I was just too depressed. I lived in Brighton and commuted to the South Shore in Quincy and later to Braintree after the company moved our office. I bought a car at some point in 1992. And I moved from my long time apartment across the street from Berklee. I thought I wanted out of the environment right there in the college campus area, but I think it was a huge mistake. I was also getting over a relationship of a couple years.
During that winter of 92/93, it seemed to snow every day. I had never had to drive to work in the snow. Getting up every morning to shovel snow and scrape ice off of the car before I had taken a shower or drank any coffee… That was rude. And I thought I knew traffic hell in Houston. And truly, Houston’s traffic is bad. But Boston’s traffic is just way more depressing. There is only one way from west of Boston to the South Shore. That is right through downtown Boston. Yes, there are other ways. It’s just going to take 3 times longer.
Now these are all just circumstances. And I don’t want to make it seem like I was depressed because of the circumstances of my life. This is one of the lessons I learned that winter. Depression is commonly attributed to life circumstances, and to some extent it really is. But relative to starving in a poor developing world country village, it’s hard to imagine circumstances being that depressing. My circumstances of depression had more to do with what I wanted to do with my life. I certainly didn’t want to be a beaurocrat. I certainly didn’t want to live in Brighton. I didn’t want to be alone.
“If I should fall, would you swallow me deep inside?”
I suppose really most of the true depression in my life has been about trying to find some meaning in my life. I have since decided that all meaning is made up. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all meaning is meaningless. It just means that you can make anything mean almost anything you want it to mean.
“Thought that I could get along, but here in this water, my feet won’t touch the ground.”
Relative to this line of thought, I couldn’t make anything mean anything during this particular period of my life.
“River deep, can you lift up and carry me?”
Really the idealism of youth is something to encourage. But it’s demise is crushing.
“Letting go, it’s so hard, the way it’s hurting now to get this stuff untied.”
I was a stranger in a strange land. I had friends. Life long friends. And really all of us were having our struggles. Many of them were similar. What do you do with your life? Not in the 30 minute episodic nature of a sitcom. But in the real sense of reconciling the dreams of youth with the reality of your 20’s.
Driving along the tollway every morning and then south away from Boston with a mixture of ice, water and the sand they spread on the streets coloring my windshield in my piece of crap car with no real heat to speak of was unspeakably gray. Happier music seemed so lost and empty. The other cars were miles away. The hardness of the tollway employees was white and clenched. And there is a lot of humor in telling stories like this as I get older, but at the time, the only thing carrying me up and down that freeway was a little music and the idea that somehow I was going to get out of this particular phase of my life.
“Bring me something that will let me get to sleep.”
This particular Peter Gabriel album was something that I made deeply meaningful in my life. I couldn’t afford therapy at the time which I probably really needed. I knew that the songs were about Peter Gabriel’s therapy sessions, so I just sort of created my own ctharsis around his descriptions of the therapy that he could afford. You do what you have to do.
“In the washing of the water, will you take it all away.”
I love this particular song as being completely out of character for Peter Gabriel. Rather than the elaborate arrangements and perplexing metaphors, here is the truth in a simple approach to the agony of breakups. When all the words are gone and all the fanfare and noise of your day is gone, you are left with yourself and your simple truths. Every single one of us. From the poor to the rich.
“Bring me something to take this pain away.”