I've had today marked on my calendar for a while. 20 years ago I had a moment of clarity.
I wasn't much of a Nirvana fan at the time. They were just another part of the fabric of the zeitgeist. I liked their songs, but I was also frightened of them. The darkness and fear and feelings of isolation and misunderstanding that so many of the songs carried with them were too similar to things going on in my inscape over those couple years. I graduated high school, gained and lost a National Merit Scholarship, and ended up hiding at my parents house and going to community college while a well-meaning psychologist tried to help me out with problems that weren't yet clearly categorized in the DSM yet.
I kind of got where Kurt was coming from, and it terrified me. I also had a serious aversion to the kind of self-medication Kurt indulged in. I'd seen it hurt people I loved, my favorite babysitter when I was a kid in particular. So, I had to just coexist with Nirvana, and try to soothe my psyche with old Beatles records. Also, all my disposable income went to comic books, anyway.
But there was something about it all. I tuned into their Mtv Unplugged performance. I followed their troubles with making In Utero safe for K-Mart and Target to sell. I worried about Kurt, especially because of a particular couple song lyrics. I regarded words as the building blocks of the magic that runs the world and when one of the most played bands on the radio records a song called "I Hate Myself and Want to Die," that's some seriously powerful magic. I didn't know what to do with the guy, but his music was everywhere and his music hurt with a kind of pain that I could feel.
And I hurt.
And then 20 years ago Kurt Cobain died for our sins. Or my sins. Or maybe just my insecurities. I know he didn't think of it that way. I'm pretty sure he just felt like his life wasn't his anymore. He was much akin to John the Savage from Brave New World.
Perhaps, if he were a more patient person, he could have waited things out for a while. Things might have gotten better.
But I don't think he had much wait left in him.
As for myself, I could wait. I cooled it with the suicidal ideation. I stopped thinking it was funny to write "loaded gun" on the grocery list at my parents' house. I covered up the angry, sad words I had Sharpied all over the walls of my bedroom.
Twenty years ago, Kurt Cobain died, and I decided I could try harder at living. So I'm going to take a little time to honor that today.
Since I posted this yesterday, in various formats, I have been getting a lot of feedback from people who were happy about "the choice I made." Which makes me feel a little weird. That wasn't my point. 20 years ago, I was not on the verge of suicide. I was 19 year old undiagnosed aspie, in a world where that wasn't even a diagnosable thing yet, who was going through meltdowns and shutdowns and suffering from severe social anxiety everyday. When Kurt died, I didn't decide not to kill myself; I decided to try harder at living.