I was 16 years old; bone pale and sprinting like a rabid Clydesdale to catch the first morning Amtrak back to CT. The sound of my untied combat boots echoed through the icy gangways of a desolate downtown Buffalo, NY. I’d spent the previous 48 hours with my big sister, surviving (arguably) my first crash-course in the dark art of hardcore college raging.
Turning a corner I skid at the feet of the St. Francis of Borgia statue and clung feverishly to a cold railing, which led up steep cathedral steps. A pinhole beam of sunlight cleaved the Ionic columns, adding to the backdrop an ancient-Olympian air. I sucked in a quick breath and for that one second there was a pure dead winter’s peace. Then my whole face fell apart.
Chapped lips stretched thin over my braces, mouth gaped like a rattlesnake dislocating its jaw to feed; I retched an unholy geyser of bile and high-octane “jungle juice”; it splashed in waves against the marble bas-reliefs. In the end, lumps of undigested Cinnabon steamed on a cold copper plaque. Blurry through the tears I read, St. Scholastica, Patron Saint of Convulsive Children. Fuck Yeah.
Not only was this was my most dignified and regal yack location to date, but it was the beginning of a legacy. In the coming decades I’d be leaving my guts in some truly idyllic settings.
In Paris I puked off the Pont Alexandre III bridge into the River Seine. (Croque Monsieur and cheap Bordeaux)
In downtown Chicago I puked off my lawyer’s penthouse balcony- the bright light of the giant sugar cookie moon dripped watercolour white over the glass of the black skyline. An ugly highrise spider repaired its web. (Czech Absinthe and wings)
In Brooklyn I puked 19 times in a Yoga studio during a lengthy Ayahuasca tea ceremony. The astral plane melted, the fabric of space-time unraveled, and I was reborn as a Mayan serpent king. (tea and pitch-black liquid bats)
In Sweden I puked on the helipad of the Tallink Silja ferry. The bay was dotted with tiny postcard islands, each with an autumn red fishing cabin. I imagined living alone in one forever. (Merlot and fried eggs)
In Seattle I puked off the deck of a chartered shark fishing boat in Puget Sound. The captain’s face looked like steak tartar. At sunrise the water was a single sheet of shadowy vintage mirror. (Coronas and flounder sashimi)
Admittedly, most often, yacking is a just case of JV amateur hour and nothing more; but sometimes a good hurl can cleanse your soul AND work out your abs at the same time.
In the right circumstances it’s like an exclamation point at the end of a great sentence; a bookmark between coveted memories.