I never conquered, rarely came. Sixteen
just held such better days.
All the dead people I ever knew got it ended in car accidents, or lived long enough to snatch cancer, except for Adam Palomino who killed himself. But you wouldn’t know that just reading the news. All they said was he went to the Junior Olympics for cross-country and track in 2006, he ran for Western's cross-country team, that he died the night of Feb. 7 in his home in Bellingham, he was 18 years old, and his mother loved him.
I only got the details ‘cause I was on his high school Cross Country team. The coaches stopped us during stretches, told us he died, and when we asked them how, they said it wasn’t important, and also practice was cancelled. The team ran a memorial mile in his honor. Billy McKinney and I stayed behind and smoked a memorial bowl, chased it with a couple spare Vicodin I’d saved, which we’d have probably done anyway during the warmup, and then went to my house and played Super Smash Bros. My dad told me he was sorry about my dead friend, and apparently practice was cancelled the whole week.
The next day at school, I saw a couple of the girls in the hallway, hugging and crying. One of the boys said he knew about it before the coaches told us, that Adam shot himself. That it was about a girl. They sent out invitations to what Adam’s parents were calling a “Celebration of Life.” Adam obviously didn’t think it was anything worth celebrating. But you don’t tell people that.
I didn’t go. I wasn’t about to waste a whole week of freedom, and honestly, I was really digging the excuses to get high.
/ / \
Hannah Lepere wasn’t the prettiest girl in school and she didn’t have the most friends, but when she was at the party, everyone was trying to fuck on her. She borrowed my sweatshirt once even though it wasn’t that cold, and she told me the next morning when she gave it back that she’d slept with it. And I slept with it too that night, and every night for a week until it stopped smelling like her and it started smelling like lonely.
Summer comes and goes, and when school starts, Hannah Lepere is gone. I’m sitting in the lunchroom with Tristan and Logan and Angel. Tristan tells us how he spent all summer making out with her in his parents’ car, until finally he got her pants off and saw the white lines all over and up and down her thighs. She told him not to tell anyone, but here he is, telling us, everyone in the school already knowing, and she definitely isn’t ever coming back.
A month later, I’m getting drunk in the back of Stella Ulanski’s car, Tasha Andrews showing us a knife and letting it hover over her fucked up wrists. Showing us how deep to go so you draw blood and you leave something behind, but not so deep that the bleeding doesn’t stop. We take turns, and we smoke a couple bowls to match the calmness, and they tell me someday if either or the both of them doesn’t get married or things don’t turn out the way they want, they’ll come back and make me their love slave.
We cut ourselves open again. We share blood.
< / 3
I was 11 when a family friend told me why he didn’t want to have children. He’d been a paramedic since he was twenty, in his forties at the time of the telling, and he’d cut down almost as many teenagers from nooses in the rafters of basements as he had fingers.
14 years after telling me this, I’m in his kitchen, getting drunk with Freddy Keller and Tamara Christie, my co-workers at St. Arnold’s Elder Care, grilling burgers and asparagus. We avoid torching ourselves with the lighter and propane canister, and after we eat and Tamara spills vodka on the floor, we talk about death.
Tamara says through hiccups how when she was 19 and she was a good Mormon, she slipped up and drank alcohol with her roommate—hiccup—who was her best friend. And also she—hiccup—was in love with her. And she wanted to confess, but instead this friend went out to meet her boyfriend and—hiccup—cry about the bad thing she’d done. Then Tamara laid on—hiccup—the floor that night and cried too ‘cause she knew the devil made her gay and the girl—hiccup—would never love her back—hiccup—not the way she wanted.
Then Freddy says when he was 14, he started dating a girl. But it didn’t work out. Then he decided that no one really liked him or thought anything of him at all, and he gets quiet before telling us he knows it’s dumb, but he’s not gonna say what happened next, except obviously whatever he did, it didn’t work.
Then it’s silent. They look at me.
. . Y
There are two kinds of killing yourself, and only one is real.
1. Is the wanting to show everyone. The wanting to be loved in retrospect like you know you deserve. Believing somehow, if you do it to yourself, you might be able to peer back in from through the veil and see everyone regret what they’ve done, that you might have the capacity to revel in it, and that maybe their prayers will bring you back and you can live on with everyone knowing how important you are.
2. Is the actual ending it. The not caring about validation or anything at all. The just sort of waiting for things to be not fun enough or have gotten boring enough or just everything too pathetic to go on pretending. The doing it quietly and out of the way so no one will know in time to stop you. The one that’s real.
I tell Freddy and Tamara about when I was 16. I hadn’t gone two days without smoking weed, or more than a week without Codeine or Vicodin or Oxycodone or way too much Advil.
I tell them about the love I wasn’t getting and the wasted opportunities and how my friends and everyone else was too busy trying to fuck Hannah Lepere to realize she was opening arteries.
I tell them about Chloe Burton forgetting we were in the same grade and telling Logan I’d put it in my mouth if he wanted and his girlfriend putting her hand in my pocket and my dad beating the actual shit out of our dogs ‘cause they put you in jail if you hit your kids too hard and my mom sharing pain killers from her medicine cabinet when I was 3 and I wouldn’t stop talking about space and her telling me being an astronaut is dumb and I’d probably die.
I tell Freddy and Tamara that my family wanted to go down to Oregon to see my Grandma, but I said I had too much homework. They bought it. So I smoked the rest of my stash, ate all my Vicodin, the Oxycodone I hid in the secret compartment of my PS2, and I masturbated and opened a bottle of wine and chased it with the rest of my mom’s Advil from her medicine cabinet. I sat in the hallway with my back to the wall, my hand in my pants. Comfort things. Like a child. And I slept.
I say this, and we group hug, we three, swaying from the collective vodka. Closer than before. Me thinking in the back of my head how the pill bottle of knock-off OxyContin or Oxycodone or whatever Bobby sold me is upstairs in my extra toiletries box. And the 11th St. Bridge is an Amtrak ride away. And if this being transgender and alive thing doesn’t work out, with enough pain killers in your system and two minutes for your stomach to process, the overdose will stop your breathing and you won’t feel the impact of the water, and if you survive you won’t feel the panic or the cold of the water going into your lungs, or how letting it go is as easy as closing your eyes.
R I P
I didn’t have a good reason to Google Adam Palomino’s name or even care, really, except just voyeurism and being a gossipy bitch. So rest assured, reader, I’m gonna finally tell you how he killed himself, but first I wanna tell you how I found out.
It was just after Freddy and Tamara departed from our little bonding session. I decided I wasn’t ready to throw out the pills that were supposed to kill me, thinking at the very least I could just get regular fucked-up. So I took just one to prove it, smoked a bowl, solutions that never change, and consulted the internet.
I wanted to know what was different. Why we were still here, and he wasn’t.
I Google his name. There were only three articles. The electric ghosts we leave behind. I scroll the lines like maybe there was a subtext somewhere, high enough to think there might be an answer to everything.
I never thought I’d actually find it. I guess that’s why I did.
Michelle Gromko went to the same college as Adam. The article said they were best friends, quote:
Michelle Gromko, another of his friends from the Mt. Baker High School cross-country team, said running was his way of venting. She said he got cranky when he wasn't able to run.
"I'm really slow, but he'd still always want to run with me," Gromko said.
I started working as a dishwasher at St. Arnold’s Elder Care in August, 2014. I was broke and I couldn’t think of anything better to do. I had three different trainers on my first three days. The third was Tommy Gromko.
Tommy Gromko is Michelle Gromko’s little cousin.
Fucking, of course he is.
So a year after we meet, I bring it up to him. “Oh yeah. He was best friends with my other cousin, Michelle’s brother. He practically lived at their house.”
Tamara is eavesdropping. She says: “Yeah, I remember him. He used to work here. He quit just before he died.”
Here’s how Adam Palomino killed himself:
First, his girlfriend broke up with him. Then, when his parents were gone, he opened a bottle of wine, swallowed all of his mother’s heart medication, got in his bed and slept forever.
I wake up in the hallway, on my side, half of my face resting in vomit. The house is still empty. I take a shower and go to school, pale as death. I can’t feel my hands or anything beneath my knees, and when I vomit again in the bathroom stall, Hannah Lepere pulls my hair back. Pantsless, scarred, and smiling.
She pets my head, tells me it’s okay. They’re wrong. We’re not the worst generation ever. We showed each other what it’s like to die. And we keep living like we never will.
Except poor Adam Palomino.Tweet