This is going to be heavy. Here are some kittens if you’re not in the mood.
Just past 9 miles on my run home today from Forest Park I stopped and had a gel and some drink. I was downtown a few blocks from the waterfront. Legs were feeling really good, bottles were getting low so my pack felt light. I crossed Naito and cut across the grass to the sidewalk and picked up the pace – only 4 miles to home. I could hear someone running close behind me (no tunes as my shuffle died at the race last weekend).
Super fast guy pulled up beside me and and asked, “where you headed this morning?”.
Me: “I was up in Forest Park and now I’m headed up to Tabor.”
Super fast guy: “Have fun!”
Feeling like a bad ass and fast and alive and snappy and solid – the little ego bump made me feel good. Like rolling through an aid station at a race with everyone cheering – no matter how bad you feel, it cheers you up.
As I got closer to the stairs up the the Hawthorne Bridge I saw that the sidewalk had yellow tape across it – fast guy peeled off right to go around it and I followed him. There were some people standing around and then I looked where they were looking. Right outside the public bathroom
A kid. Maybe 16 … 17…18? The paramedics had his clothes cut off – his big baggy camo pants were cut up the front and splayed open. And his 2 sizes too big hoody and his worn out shitty sneakers were laying next to him.
One paramedic is squeezing the oxygen mask and another one – huge guy, maybe 200+ is on top of this kid giving him chest compressions. His limp body is just absorbing the compressions. And the paramedic is not stopping.
Oh no no no no no no no no no. Was all I could think. No no no no.
Fight man. Fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. Don’t go.
Walking around downtown these kids look dirty and grumpy and big with their oversized clothes and backpacks – people cross the street to avoid them. With all his clothes cut off – this was just a skinny little white kid. It reminded me of my kids when they get out of the bathtub. Scrawny and white and pure. Just kids.
I had trouble getting up the steps to cross the bridge. I’ve never cried and run at the same time. It’s difficult. You kind of hyperventilate. So I hyperventilated running across the bridge. And I thought about this kid’s parents.. and his girlfriend…and his friends. And all the stupid choices that culminated to get him to the place where a big paramedic is trying to revive you … with every indication that he’d checked out.
And then I thought about all the people who failed this kid. I got angry. You can fuck up a lot of things in life. You can get physically injured, you can be rich or poor... there are unlimited possibilities. But only one thing that takes away every chance you have is when you’re dead.
I had this visceral sense of a soul leaving and it made me really sad. Of just giving up and giving in and leaving. I would surmise it was an overdose. Bad heroin. I have no idea – I don’t know if he made or didn’t. Sure didn’t look like it, but maybe he rallied. Hope.
(I didn’t post this over the weekend… I checked the internets for anything that went down on Saturday morning and didn’t find anything).