Drowning

In INTROSPECTION, MOVIES, RAISING HOPS INTO BEERS by Stephanie Klein4 Comments

No one has drowned. There aren’t even sorrows worthy of drowning. I can’t remember the last time I had a sip of alcohol. It was probably last September, and the lack of alcohol wasn’t even a decision I made. I guess when you’re just trying to eat healthier and wake with energy, the alcohol just doesn’t seem worth it. I wrote a shit ton more when I drank.

The only reason I wanted to post a blog entry right now is so I’ll have proof. Not 40-proof, not proof that I’ve gone without liquor, but I needed to go on record now that I just spent 40 minutes hunting down the name of that movie that has haunted me since I was a child.

I don’t know how old I was, but it was the 80s, and I was home watching a movie on “Home Box Office.” All I could recall was summarized in tonight’s search queries:

Teacher swimming cave drown
Teacher swimming hole
Drowning movies

I needed to write this post because I will undoubtedly forget the name of the movie, and I don’t want to spend another 40 minutes needing to know the name, as if by just knowing it, I can exhale and life may continue. It’s that one solid thing that if I can capture it, all is somehow okay, and my brain can get back to the living.

FORTRESS (1985)
“An Australian school teacher and her students are kidnapped. She and the children fight for their lives and try to escape from their captors.”

You have to understand that I was a student. I was a child. This seemed a possible scenario. I was so terrified of drowning that I had to change the channel mid-movie. I couldn’t watch what happened next, and having never watched it again, it has stayed with me all these years. That need for air and the panic when you can’t break the surface of the water, when you’re blocked under rocks, it’s unbearable to me. I had to look away, and even doing so, I was never able to really look away. Instead I look for it, decades later, searching to see what happens next.

This was the exact scene that has haunted me: https://youtu.be/e5xnyClQ_kk?t=41m30s

Now, without getting political, there is the news. The news of suicides, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, these tragic preventable stories. In my life, I’ve personally known 3 people who have committed suicide. 1) My 2nd cousin. 2) One of my best friends from college, through all four years of school and afterward. 3) Ned Vizzini, a fellow writer and friend who spent days sleeping in my home when I invited him to be on a panel with me for SXSW. 4) One of Phil’s friends, whom I’d met and spent a weekend with in Rhode Island. 5) There is also the husband of a close friend, but I’d never known him. These are the personal ways my own life has been touched by suicide.

I also remember growing up that my best friend’s mother worked a suicide-prevention hotline, where she’d spend hours counseling people. And I remember her once saying that she’d spent the whole night talking to someone only to find out that it was a prank call. It’s strange the things we remember.

One thing I want to remember in all this is how to love and how to prioritize. While I want my children to do well in school, what I really truly want, is for them to be happy. Not anxious, not worried about test scores or cliques or who was invited or wasn’t invited, none of it. I just want them to know they are loved, just as they are, without having to accomplish or achieve. They are important and invaluable.

Douglas Klein: August 3, 1976 – June 28, 1999 (Age 22)
Jessica Gordon: December 29, 1974 – April 2006 (Age 32)
Ned Vizzini: April 4, 1981 – December 19, 2013 (Age 32)

Comments

  1. OMG can you please write more? Seeing a new post is like hearing from an old friend. Thanks for this!

  2. Yep – I know the feeling. Even though the darlings are now 24, 26 and 27 – I still worry. Even though they are all successful and independent and happy and strong – I still worry. Even though they are all living their dreams and having their best lives – I still worry.

    So I check in subtly – a text here, a conversation there, a care-package from home, and I cross every single one of my fingers and toes that the one worst moment of their life won’t lead to them leaving this life forever, but that they’ll hear my voice in their head saying ‘call me, I’m here for you’. I don’t know how I could ever get up again. Let’s hope we never have to find out.

    It is a scary time in this world.

  3. My own experience with suicide was traumatic and put me and my boyfriend in counseling. The young man never once indicated he needed help. So sad when you think about how these things can be prevented and should never ever happen.

  4. Yeay another post – even if on a very sad subject.

    Stephanie, I honestly still check this blog almost daily hoping you have written an update. I wonder how Mr Bikini & Linus are, and how the beans are doing at school..

    Also if you have settled in and found new friends since you moved again, do you still miss Texas?

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