2017 sucked. I know it was rough for a lot of people. I’m not sure if it’s because I am getting older and have entered the hell and a hand basket stage, waving angry fist at cloud, but I can honestly say last year ranks among the very worst of my life. And, yes, that includes the homeless junkie years.
As you may know I lost my brother, Josh, in November. Most sibling relationships are complicated, but Josh and I had a shared history of addiction, which only further complicates. It’s not as simple as one of us was the fuck up, the other the overachiever. We each played both roles, at various times. The end was particularly hard. By then I’d given up the ghost, was married with kids, living on the West Coast. The writing had taken off, books doing well; and my brother was 3,000 miles away in his own tormented hell. There was a time where Josh and I were as close as two brothers get. The last several years saw more distance, as I moved further and further from certain behaviors, movement that my brother, for whatever reasons, couldn’t emulate. And it sucks because when you lose someone, especially under those conditions, where the person, essentially, let their own demons consume them, you’re going to ask what you could’ve done. I’ve been asking that question for the better part of fifteen years. I’ve just changed tenses.
If you’ve read the Jay Porter books, you know where the story of two brothers, one an addict, the other besieged by guilt and regret, finds its inspiration. I am not Jay Porter, even if Jay Porter is me. If that makes sense.
Junkie Love is coming out next year in a 2nd edition, with new Foreword by one of my literary heroes, Jerry Stahl, and a new Afterword by me. The Afterword, which I wrote shortly after Josh’s passing, might be the best thing I’ve written in fifteen years. Even as it came from one of the worst times of my life. That’s art, right? Nothing ever going wrong does not for great writing make. But I’d give back every book, and just about everything else in my life too, save my two boys and family, to have my brother and mother back (they can keep my father).
I don’t want to talk too much about that Afterword–you’ll get to read it soon enough–but one of the lines in there talks about how the Porter books have long been the conversations I wanted to have with my brother but couldn’t. I don’t think Josh ever read any of my books after Junkie Love. I know it must’ve been hard, that thin line between truth and fiction.
Since November, I’ve sorta checked out. Going on social media got to be too painful. And since I spend a lot of my life in the virtual realm, I feel like I’ve been isolating and anti-social. I’m that way in the physical world too (never been much of a people person), but I’m usually online, on Facebook or whatever, to interact. A lot of people reached out after Josh died, and the outpouring was touching and deeply appreciated. But I could also not go on social media and not be reminded. And some days I didn’t want to be reminded. Some days I just wanted to play with my boys or watch football or go golfing. Even if as I did those things I was never fully able to escape the reality that my little brother was gone, and no matter how much longer I lived, another 50 years, I wouldn’t get to see him again.
With 2018 almost here, I’ve … resolved … to get back out there. Like a single mom dating again or something. I have some good news with my books, and I’ll share that soon, and I’ll need to do my part to promote. I know the year turning over isn’t some magic reset button; it’s an arbitrary marker. Still I am anxious to see what this New Year brings. I don’t want to say it can’t get much worse because I know it always can, which makes me more appreciative and grateful for the people in my life, my family, friends, fans, folks who took the time out to check in on me these past couple months. Thank you. I expect you’ll be seeing more of me (that’s not a threat). (If only in an electronic version. I still don’t like to wear pants.)