Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Blackest Christmas

It had been a rough fall/winter to say the least. For the last month or two that we lived in the Slayer house we actually had no phone, which meant I couldn't contact any friends and they couldn't contact me, with the exception of showing up at my door. 

Once I moved into my parent's basement I had a phone line again, so naturally I was reaching out to friends to make time to hang out, with the exception of my former roomies. Well, I was still in contact with Mike C after all we were still in the same band together. 

Speaking of bands, Wiggaz was now no more. Greg or Rob had called me at my parents to inform me that I was no longer in the band. They had decided to ask Mike Myres, the original Wiggaz vocalist, to rejoin them again. Mike had left Wiggaz & BBJ to focus on his marriage and career. I pleaded that this was a big mistake as Mike wouldn't do it, but my pleas went unheard. Sure enough Mike turned them down and within a week Wiggaz was no more. I really had no contempt for Frank the drummer as he seemed to have no say in this, but I was definitely feeling betrayed by Greg & Rob. Needless to say I didn't go out of my way to continue friendships with them. 

I spent a lot of nights at Hooterville station drinking myself into abysmal darkness. Once the bar closed I'd generally head home and stay up watching tv until sunrise while making drunken prank calls. I was slowly sinking deeper into my dark place but now that I could talk to my friends again things were brightening up. 

A few days before Christmas I got a phone call from none other than Jay Poole. I was so relieved to hear his voice again and to know he was still alive. Jay was in very high spirits, he had beaten his leukemia once again and grasped a new lease on life. He was his old self, high energy, full of jokes, and he was overly excited to share some new Mortal Kombat cheat codes with me. We talked on the phone for a good hour or so and in all honesty it was the best Christmas present I received that year... or possibly ever.

3 weeks later we were half way into January of 1996 and I had just celebrated my 23rd birthday. The following night I was back in Woodbridge working my job at the gas station. It was a typically slow midnight shift as per usual, but business was about to pick up. 

I saw a very familiar vehicle pull up to the first pump, a tracker jeep that belonged to none other than my ex girlfriend Tara. I had no idea why she was here or what I was in for, but I assumed it would be negativity. I was expecting her to walk in and start fighting with me right away, but she had a very worried look on her face. She proceeded to tell me Sanjai had called her because he couldn't get in contact with me. The message he passed along to her was that Jay Poole only had about 4 days left to live. His leukemia had come back tenfold and the doctors had confirmed this was the end of the road for him.

Tara split pretty quick after delivering the news and my brain instantly went into overdrive. I was flooded with all the memories I'd ever shared with him. It was so much to process in such a short time that I felt my mind was about to blow out of my ears. I just couldn't deal with the news. I was so confused and overwhelmed that I actually locked up the gas station and started walking from Woodbridge to Brampton. I got a few blocks before my logical side kicked back in. I couldn't just abandon work and leave Shayne's mom in that predicament. I headed back to work and finished the duration of my shift, as extremely difficult as it was.

To deal with my feelings I did what I do best, write. I immediately started writing a song about Jay to try and cope with the bomb that had just been dropped on me. I only wrote one verse which was hard enough, I wouldn't go on to finish the song until after his passing. 

When I got home I could not fall asleep, I could not stop crying, and I could not stop thinking about Jay. I really had no way to go see him, so I humbled myself and contacted Tara and thankfully she agreed to bring me to see him. 

It was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. Walking in his hospital room and seeing him hooked up to tubes and machines, his face and body swollen almost beyond recognition. He looked very tired and he could not even speak. He shook his head side to side as to say "no I don't want you to see me like this". I stood at the side of the bed and held his hand, we stared into each other's eyes, and although we exchanged no words our gaze upon each other spoke volumes. It was as if I could hear his thoughts and he could hear mine. 

I stayed strong, said my goodbyes, and we were on our way back home. One of R.E.M.'s hit songs was on the radio, "Everybody hurts". I never liked the band, I never liked the song, and I never saw any importance or significance to it, but at this moment it forced me to break down like a child and ball my eyes out. To this day 20 years later it still pains me greatly when I hear that song. 

As hard as the experience was, I felt it would of been harder for me to deal if I didn't get to see him and say my goodbyes. A week later Tara was once again nice enough to drive Sanjai and I to Jay's funeral in Milton. It was a tough day no doubt, and afterwards we were invited to a local bar to share stories with his friends and family. Although we were there it was as if I wasn't there. Physically my body was, but mentally my brain was not. 

After the whole ordeal I was feeling very upset and I was now in the darkest spot of my darkness. I felt like if I was left alone I might do something drastically stupid, so I begged Tara to hang out with me for a few hours, to which she declined. If I ever needed her this was the time, but she chose to turn her back and walk away. This ended up leading to an argument, and in turn it was the last time I ever spoke to her. 

I continued my downward spiral of drinking, depression and negativity. I felt like I was in a black tunnel who's walls were slowly closing in on me. 

There HAD to be a light at the end of the tunnel....

Friday, 9 September 2016

A Slayer House Divided

Although things were going great for both of my bands respectively, things weren't so great on the home front. After both my girlfriend and Shayne's girlfriend had went their separate ways things had slowly been falling apart around the house. No one was cleaning or taking charge of any responsibilities with the exception of Noel, the treasurer whom we'd give our money to each month so he could manage the bills and rent.

Speaking of managing, Noel was looking to get into the music business and Wiggaz was now the first official band he managed. Our Malton bredren Dirge were soon added to the roster and Noel had taken his first few baby steps into a new life, one more glorious than working midnight shifts in a factory. Owen had completed the Wiggaz music video and we were all super stoked. It turned out amazing despite the fact all the footage was filmed for the song "Carnivore" and we ended up switching the music to the song "Seed" at the zero hour. Thankfully everything still worked visual wise and nobody was the wiser.  

Back on the home front, tensions were ever growing. Our kitchen counter was being over run by dirty dishes and no one was stepping up to the plates, pun intended. I literally made a conscious decision to eat take out for one month straight without so much as soiling a single piece of cutlery. Eventually Shayne confronted me one day claiming it was my turn to wash the dishes. Nobody had done them in months, and I told him I hadn't even used one dish in the past month. This escalated to an angered debate that resulted in the dirty dish pile continuing to grow.

As much love as I had for my BBJ bro Mike C, even he was getting under my skin. Mike had a knack to take the last of whatever you had in the fridge. I was all up for sharing, but Mike seemed to indulge himself at the inconvenience of others. He'd take your last two pieces of bread to make a sandwich, he'd drink your last beer, etc. Needless to say he'd rubbed all of us the wrong way more than once. His drinking was still quite extreme and he seemed to black out more often than ever. One night he passed out cooking burgers in a frying pan which resulted in a grease fire that threatened all of our lives. Thankfully Shayne and his quick yet reckless thinking were there to save the day as the rest of us stood around like deer in headlights.

I too was under scrutiny, my cat had kittens she had abandoned and I was so involved in my own life I didn't realize they were being neglected. I assumed putting water and cat food out for them was good enough, but they were so young they needed to be bottle fed milk, an undertaking that Shayne met graciously while resenting me for my lack of responsibility. 

The Slayer House had now become a boiling pot that was ready to blow it's lid off. Everyone of us were rubbing the others the wrong way in one form or another. On top of that stress my good friend Jay Poole had fallen into remission. His leukemia had come back to haunt him once again and I hadn't seen nor heard from him in weeks. Sanjai gave me any updates he could but he was somewhat in the dark too.

As all good things must come to and end, so did our lease. We all went our separate ways, and with the exception of Mike C I barely saw the other guys. Of course I'd still see Noel when Wiggaz played, but I literally didn't see or talk to Shayne for a year. That was tough, here was a guy I considered my best friend and somewhat of a mentor, and now he chose not to be apart of my life. 

I ended up moving back to my parents house as they had a basement appartment available. My folks would let me stay there to save money up for my next move. Our whole circle of friends seemed to be divided now. I was spending most of my time with Scott & Pino now as I still needed friends and a social life, and I was highly thankful those guys were there for me during this dark period of my life. We'd generally party at Pino's place and usually head out to the same local bars & hot spots each week. 

Inside I was hurting bad, my best friend didn't care to have me in his life, the tension with Mike had carried over a bit into Black Belt Jones, I still needed to find a new place to live, and to top it all off I still hadn't heard from Jay Poole. I feared the worst and for all I knew he could have been dead. It didn't help I was still working midnights for Shayne's mother which just added to my depression. I turned to alcohol as an escape and it seemed I was drinking away the pain every night. I felt it was the only way to escape my dark mind and thoughts, and the only way to get some sleep, which was always short lived at best each night. Alcohol is a depressant though and that led to a lot of mischief and acts of stupidity on my part. Months passed and my drinking and depression deepened. 

As Christmas approached  I desperately hoped that 1996 would bring a new light and a new hope with it...