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Memoir Course: Letter to Younger Self

You’re always going to remember your first time.

You never planned on it happening that night. You never planned on it happening at all really. It wasn’t something you never really thought about doing. Sure, other people did it, and sure, maybe it seemed fun, but you were just happy drinking and dancing.

This is what’s going to happen. It’ll be March 2001, and you’ll walk into that Vancouver hotel room, and they’ll be doing it, there on the bed. They’re the cool drag queens, and you want to be accepted by them. Right then, as they hand you the rolled-up bill, you’ll flashback to every single time in your entire life when you wanted so desperately to be included. It’s not you at 24 having that first time, it’s 8-year-old you, and 14-year-old you, and 19-year-old you. And you will lean down over the hotel bible that they had cut the lines on and you’ll snort it.
WHITE. GOLD. FIRE. RACING. THROUGH. YOUR. BLOOD. 
YOU. HAVE. NEVER. FELT. LIKE. THAT. 
IT. IS. A. HIGH. YOU. DIDN’T. KNOW. YOU. WERE. CHASING.
Doesn’t sound like I’m talking you out of it, does it? I guess that’s because objects in the cocaine-covered rear view mirror may appear closer than they were. I also guess I know you won’t listen to me, whatever I say. You’ll do that first line, that first night, and then a second line a second night, a month later, and then a third and fourth line a few months after that. And then you’ll stop, and you’ll wonder why I would have reached back through space and time to warn you about it. 
Because that WHITE. GOLD. FIRE. is going to take you over. 
Edmonton winters are all about the white powder, after all, but in 2005, it’s going to be a very different snow. Snow should be cold, right? But no, this is that other snow. That WHITE. GOLD. FIRE. It’ll burn through you, that week between Christmas and New Years, and it will leave nothing behind. 
The blizzard of 2005 will last until 2011. 

You won’t listen to me just the same way I didn’t listen to others. We can’t hear until we’re ready. But on the nights when you’ll be laying on your bed, unable to sleep, your heart racing, your mouth dry, the bitter nasal drip making you cough and sneeze, you’ll hear those voices, so let me add mine to the chorus. Stop sooner! Put that fire out.

It will burn down your job, your relationship. Remember when you were the smart kid with the unlimited potential? The WHITE. GOLD. FIRE. Will leave you homeless. I mean, sure, you and I both know we had fun at many a bathhouse, but do you really want to be living in one? Because you will be, so that you can pace the corridors, burning up, horny and unable to do anything about it because oh, you don’t even want to know about the coke-dick. The house music will be blaring over those speakers all night long, and it won’t matter because you couldn’t sleep anyway because of the WHITE. GOLD. FIRE. Coursing through your veins. 
And you’ll love it, and you’ll hate it, and you’ll hate yourself, and you’ll try to fix that hate by doing more. You’ll go further down the spiral, because you know that even if or when you hit rock bottom, well, that rock is just made of coke for you to crush and snort. 

Who knows what you could have done or been without the WHITE. GOLD. FIRE? Would you still be managing Buddys, that gay bar you loved so frickin’ much you let it dominate everything? Would you be an owner there? Would you still be with Mike, if the fire hadn’t burned you both up, the night he threw you into a Christmas tree, the night he came at you with a hammer? I wish I could tell you what you’d gain, if you listened to my words, but I can’t, and besides, the kids never listen. I didn’t listen when I was you, and they don’t listen now when I talk about how I was / how we were, back then, when the snow piled up and the world was an endless white-out. 

Cuz you see, as the snow piled up, you lost sight of everything. You’re a good Alberta boy. You know what the winter is like. That winter was endless. You’d gone through the wardrobe to find the White Witch in a little baggie, and she was in control. When the snow is coming down that hard, that long, you can’t see anyone. You will have never felt so alone, and c’mon, let’s be honest, kid, I’m you. I know how alone we had felt. This was that, but ten times worse. A hundred times worse. You will be alone in the blizzard, because you see, that WHITE. GOLD. FIRE? It burns down bridges too. Friends, family, work. The fire will consume them all, and still, all you will want is to keep feeling that burn. 

When you could have been having breakfast in bed with a husband, you’ll be having cocaine for breakfast before even rolling out of bed alone. And you will drink so you can sleep, and you’ll snort to stay awake. And you’ll be living at this intersection of alcohol and cocaine, and only at your highest and most alone will you scribble endlessly into journals the despair and truth eating away at you. But in the morning, and by morning, I mean mid-afternoon because mornings will find you just crawling into bed to hopefully be able to pass out – in the mid-afternoon, you won’t be able to do anything, but later, rinse, repeat, to get through the next night. 
You’ll be Icarus, flying high, and the sun will burn you with its WHITE. GOLD. FIRE. and you will crash. And crash. And crash and burn. 
Even if you hear me, and walk into that room at 24 and say no to that rolled-up bill, you’ll need to say no again and again. Eventually, I fear, it will get you, the same way it got me. Maybe we needed to burn, eh? That’s what we used to think, right? Better to burn out than fade away. Was it a slow march to the suicide we avoided in high school?  At that first time, in 2001, we hadn’t racked up the body count we later would – the friends lost to addiction and depression and suicide. We came so close to just being one of them, but instead, we lived, maybe so we could remember them. 

Because you see, the blizzard WILL end. It will last six years, and it will take you down, time and time again. You will live your life in ten city blocks, and you will go days, weeks, months without seeing the sun. You will be a stranger to your family, and a disappointment to yourself. But we’re good Alberta boys, we know that spring will come. And there will come a day, 3657 days after walking into that Vancouver hotel room, when you will be done. You will wake up and just be done.

And you’ll walk outside, and lift your face to the sun and close your eyes. All you will see is white gold, and the sun will be warm on your face, and you will smile, clean and sober.

Just do us both a favour, and get there sooner?

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