The most barbarous of our maladies is to despise our being. –Michel de Montaigne
There’s a tiny park on Hyde Street in San Francisco, on the cable car line, and for about a year I half-heartedly planned to kill myself in it. The park is slightly sunken, set off from the street, mostly concrete: one of those wedged-in, rarely utilized “mini-parks” common to this part of the city. There are a few rickety maroon-painted benches, a banner of tattered Mexican party flags, some scattered plants and trees. Sometimes, on warm nights, people sit there and eat ice cream cones from the famous ice cream parlor on the corner. Sometimes people take their dogs there to pee. But most of the time it’s empty.
I zeroed in on it because it’s near my apartment and ill-lit. I’d made only a cursory stab at formulating the logistics. Mostly I fantasized in broad strokes, visualizing the final result rather than the step-by-step labor. I knew this much: I wanted to put my California ID in my pocket, along with a piece of paper with my sister’s contact information, swallow a bunch of Xanax with alcohol, and hang myself from a tree. I didn’t think about what I’d use to hang myself, or what I’d stand on to reach the tree, or what kind of knot I’d tie. I didn’t even know which tree. My reluctance to hammer out these details probably indicated a lack of genuine resolve. Or maybe it was just indicative of the bone-shaking agitation that made it impossible to focus on anything intently enough to make a plan.
I walked by the park almost every day, but found it hard to enter. Sometimes I’d stand on the sidewalk and just stare into it, my heartrate accelerating. I knew this was the place, but I didn’t want to go in and scope out coordinates and vantage points. If it was going to happen, I didn’t want to be methodical about it. I was waiting for some trigger that would make it inevitable: some fresh humiliation, some galling failure. Something that would make it all fall into place, get the ball rolling organically, negate the need for foresight. I may have also been waiting for an irrefutable reason not to do it at all.