A Letter For The Man Who Jumped

On March 30, 2010, you rode a bus to New York City, where you planned to jump off the George Washington Bridge or the Empire State Building. You chose the Empire State Building.

You don’t know me.

I heard your head explode.

When I saw your body on the street, it was like a sick joke.  A student art project. The reissued cover of a DeLillo novel. I was positive of things, of details, of plot points. I repeated them inside my own head like a list, taking time to give each item necessary weight and duration.

I saw you from a distance. I saw you as an older man.

You wore a suit.

Your tie was red.

Your head was a pulpy mess, still attached to your body.

A Google search the following morning confirmed that only parts of this were true. Or none of this. You were so young. There was no suit.

There was Yale, tennis, your academic record. There was China. Your name. Your sister. The note you left. The sneaker on Fifth Avenue, a thing separate from the rest of you.

You were the information. I processed you.

When I talk about death, when I talk about absence and instinct and metaphor, I mean you. You are a third date bar story. You only happen in dim light. I’ve said worse things. Things I can’t take back.

“I lived through the noise,” and “It was like a balloon popping,” and “People go their entire lives without knowing.”

The day you jumped, it almost rained. It came close to it.

I called home and said, “I saw someone jump.” I walked a few blocks to try to understand. I thought about the act of trying to understand. You see, what I did was selfish. I made myself a chosen one. You were only part of the story.

It’s possible it was raining. It’s possible it started and stopped.

Here’s something true. People screamed. The screams happened in parts, as each person processed you. It was one scream, and then another, and so on. Like a round.

Two days after you jumped, I came home and had the compulsion to vomit. I sat in the bathroom with my roommate’s sister. We waited for something to fall into the toilet. Nothing did.

This is the best example, in my mind, of how I desecrated you.

Other times, too. I told a coworker over instant message chat about the fall and how I heard you hit the ground. How I saw you, or didn’t. I was tired, so I let her make parts of you up.

If I were a better person, you would be sacred. I would have let the noise of your own head be something for you, alone, to have. I still don’t know if that’s what you would have wanted. It’s possible we have the same compulsions.

You won’t forget this part.

I had to look up the date. It wasn’t in my immediate memory. In my immediate memory, I only hear myself, and this story, and how I sound when I tell it.

I have to be honest with you. I want you dead. Head smashed, in the suit you never had, bleeding into pavement. I hope you get it. It’s the only way I can try to understand.

I’m not sorry. I should be sorry. These are things better left unspoken. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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