Across the Universe

2002

Even if I told you how it happened, and why it happened, you would have trouble believing it. You would have trouble believing it, because someone like me isn't supposed to do stuff like this.
Someone like me. I was supposed to live out my life, droning and decomposing under the florescent bulbs of a stuffy, nondescript office. But sometimes things don't happen the way they are supposed to. Sometimes, one event can change everything. That one event, for me, happened two years ago.

I was living in the Village, in a nice apartment with a very cool roommate. My girlfriend lived across the hall. We had been friends for years, then started dating each other about a year prior. I think it was safe to say that Monica was the love of my life. I never told her that, of course, because I am a giant prick who can't commit.
She got pregnant, and I freaked out on her. I left the apartment, and didn't come back for three days. Monica was beyond pissed. She told me that I had to decide what my priorities were, or else.

Well, I sat on it, for about a month. I told her I needed time, and she yelled, and cried, and carried on, and she said that I didn't love her. But I did love her. And had I known then, what I know now, I would have made that committment. See, I wasn't always like this. I wasn't always worthless. I just thought I was. And that's what scared me about committing to Monica. I was afraid that she would eventually see just how worthless I was. In the end, none of my committment issues mattered. I still let her down.

"Monica, we need to talk about what's happening between us."

"It doesn't matter, Chandler," Monica said sadly, and sunk down onto the sofa as if all of the life had been sucked from her.

"Mon, I want to be here for you, and for the baby...and I think I can do it if--"

"There is no baby, Chandler." Monica's voice was so small, it was barely audible.

"What?"

"There is no baby. I lost it. It's gone. You have nothing more to worry about."

"Mon, what can I do? Please tell me what I can do."

"You've done enough," Monica said bitterly, before racing to her bedroom to lock out the world.

Needless to say, I was shocked by Monica's statement. I never thought she'd just out-and-out blame me for the miscarriage. But she did. And for the next few days, I sat in my apartment, consumed with grief and guilt over the pain I caused Monica. I loved her, yet I'd hurt her, in the worst way. I wanted to die. In the end, I figured the best thing for me to do would be to leave.
So I did. I moved into a small studio across town. But it may as well have been across the universe. It was world's away from my old life.
A month later, I was fired from my job, which wasn't surprising, considering that I never fucking went anymore, and when I did, I'd just stare at the ceiling and drool all over myself. I began to find it increasingly difficult to get out of bed before noon, so I decided to take a job waiting tables in some dive. I waited tables in college, it was no big deal. Plus I still had a hefty savings, and a bunch of inheritence money from my Aunt Jackie, who was stinking rich and hated everybody in our family, but felt sorry for me because my parents were so fucked up.

So I would spend most of my nights out at bars, drinking like a fish until dawn, and then I would go into work at six pm, hungover. I'd get off work at midnight, and do it all over again. One night, I was sitting in the bar, sucking down my fifth Jack and Coke, when I met Chris. Chris was a total fucking nut. We hit it off right away, since I was now at a point in my life when I just didn't give a shit anymore. Chris and I started hanging out all the time, and he was the one who introduced me to the world of ecstacy.

It was a Wednesday night, I remember that it was a Wednesday because I didn't have to work the next day, and I never worked on Thursdays. Anyway, Chris and I were sitting in his living room, smoking and drinking. I mentioned how alcohol wasn't numbing my pain and guilt for shit, and so he suggested I try something stronger.

"Trust me, Chandler, a little bit of this, and you won't feel a thing."

"What is it?"

"Don't ask, just do."

It dissolved in my mouth, and for a minute, I thought nothing had really happened. Then it hit me. And everything changed. Chris was right. After that night, I spent more time numbing the pain than doing anything else. It was amazing how quickly I was hooked.

Eventually, I stopped going to work altogether, and devoted all my free time to finding new and exciting ways to dull the pain of losing everything I valued. It didn't matter if it was heroin or paint thinner--I just didn't want to feel anymore. And then, about a year ago, I finally got to the point where I wasn't feeling a thing. I was finally at the point where I couldn't recognize the person I used to be. I had crossed over into some other weird-ass universe, where up was down and left was right and I didn't give a fuck about myself or anybody else.
And had you known me before all of this, you would have been shocked to see how quickly and completely I had changed. My old roommate, and Monica's older brother got a taste of it, a few months ago. I was sitting in a coffee shop near my apartment, nursing yet another hangover, when they walked in.

"This place looks okay...c'mon Ross, I really gotta go!" Joey was doing the universal 'pee dance' in the doorway of the small, dark coffee shop.

"Fine, but hurry up," Ross relented, and walked into the shop warily. He quickly scanned the shop, and stopped cold when his eyed fell onto a familiar face.

"Ch-Chandler?"

"Ross--what the hell are you doing here?"

"Uh--I was--I mean--what the hell happened to you man?"

"What?"

"You look--awful." Ross stood there, as he quite obviously battled his conflicting emotions. While it was clear that he was angry with me for hurting Monica and leaving, my gaunt appearance obviously disturbed him.

"Chandler?" Joey's voice came up suddenly.

"Hey, Joe."

"What happened to you?"

"Nothing. I'm fine."

"Chandler, Monica is really worried about you. She feels horrible, and she really wants to talk to you."

"Well, I don't really think that's a good idea."

"What? Why not?"

"Ross, don't you think I've fucked up your sister's life enough? Admit it, you'd be much happier if you never had to see me again."

"That is not true."

"Well, whatever, it doesn't matter now, anyway. I gotta go. See ya."

I left as quickly as I could. All I could think about, from the moment I saw Ross, was that I needed a hit. I raced home, and filled myself with whatever I could find.

I was so wrapped up in my own little universe, I didn't notice that I was being followed.

I was there the day Chandler left. I was sitting in my sister's apartment, watching helplessly as she beat herself up over it. She cried for days. Nothing I said, nothing Rachel, or Phoebe said, made her feel better.
None of us saw Joey for days afterward. He was angry, that much was obvious. But he was too nice of a person to take out his anger on Monica, who was a wreck. So he kept his distance. I approached him a few days after Chandler left, and proposed that he and I try to find Chandler, and bring him home.

"That's a good idea, Ross."

"Yeah, well, we have to do something. Everyone's a wreck. You, Mon...Rachel can't sleep because Monica's always crying at night...we just need to do something."

"You're right. We can find him...We've gotta find him!"

We searched. We searched for weeks. But we couldn't find him. His parents hadn't heard from him. He was fired from his job, and they had no idea where he'd gone. It was like he'd fallen off the face of the Earth.
Then, a few months ago, Joey and I went to see an acting friend of his, in a sketchy neighborhood on the other end of town. We stopped in an old coffee shop, and were shocked to find Chandler...or at least someone who resembled him. He was a mere shadow of the man he was, thin and gaunt, pale and shaky. It was obvious that he had hit bottom. He tried to get away from us, but we followed him to the rat-infested room he called home, and cornered him into going to see Monica.

"Why are you guys doing this? Why do you even give a shit?"

"We're your friends, Chandler, we want you to come home."

"After what I've done? Why?"

"What do you mean, after what you've done?"

"Didn't Monica tell you? Tell you how I freaked out about the baby? How I stressed her out and caused her to lose it? How I hurt her when I promised I wouldn't?"

"Yes, Chandler. She told us you freaked. But the miscarriage wasn't your fault. It would have happened, no matter what you'd done, or she'd done."

"I gotta go to the bathroom."

Chandler was gone for twenty minutes. Joey finally forced the bathroom door open, only to find Chander sprawled out on the floor, unconscious, and surrounded by bottles of alcohol and drug paraphernalia. It was clear to me that he was in no condition to see Monica, or anyone else, for that matter.

Joey and I checked Chandler into a rehab facility, but we never told the others that we'd even seen him. I figure he'll tell the others himself, in time. Joey went to visit him last month, but Chandler wouldn't talk to him. I tried to explain to Joey that he's in a lot of pain, and he's probably embarassed, and that he needs to remember that we probably saved Chandler's life. I hope that, in time, Chandler will forgive us.

So, now you know how I got here. I leave in a few days, and I have to say, I'm scared to death. I'm scared to go back to my friends, and I'm scared that they'll never look at me the same. I'm afraid they'll hate me for falling. Or hate me for walking away. I have never felt so vulnerable, yet I've never felt more alive.

It's a scary thing.

Across the Universe (McCartney/Lennon)

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me.
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe,
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box they
Tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a
million suns, it calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.