January 3, 1999
I pocketed a box of Coricidin at the drugstore the night before I was set to go back. In the morning I swallow half the box with a glass of orange juice and finish packing my suitcase. Soon it is time to go. My scalp is tingling a little bit but mostly I don’t feel anything yet. My mom cries some when she drops me off, but it doesn’t really bother me that I have to go, and I wonder briefly if this makes me a bad person.
The plane is about to board and now I feel a little dizzy but that’s about it. Maybe you’re supposed to take the whole box, I think. I swallow the rest of the pills with warm water from the drinking fountain and get on the plane.
When it comes time to transfer flights in Portland, I stand up and it is like astronaut boots on my feet. I walk through the tunnel from the plane into the airport in what at least feels like a straight line. A cigarette seems like the kind of thing that will make me alright but it’s not like I’m exactly thinking clearly. I am rushing past the security check point and maybe I hit someone with my backpack because there’s this guy and he’s glaring at me. He says something or maybe he yells it but I can’t quite make out his words. I get outside and light a cigarette. I smoke so fast the end turns long and skinny like a pencil. I focus everything I have onto that red tip and for the five minutes it lasts I feel OK.
I make it back through security and to my gate without too much trouble. The plane is delayed. I am sitting there listening to my headphones, telling myself everything is fine, I will get on the plane soon, but suddenly my head is so thick I can’t breathe. Maybe I am ODing. When my fingers go numb I make myself get up and go into the bathroom. I splash water on my face. I don’t dry it off. I lock myself in the handicapped stall, sitting on the toilet, head between my knees, trying to catch my breath. When everything has mostly stopped, I notice that the ends of my hair are wet from something, wet from something that is on the floor of the bathroom. It might be piss.
When I leave the bathroom, my pulse is still jumpy but I’m mostly OK. The plane has all boarded. I make it on just in time. When Wade, the afternoon counselor, picks me up in the white van he doesn’t seem to notice anything, and my drug test comes back clean, but I feel dizzy and doomed for two more days.