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I ‘d intended to devote this column to obnoxious/impossible-to-find stocking stuffers (merkin, anyone?) but things come up.

Tuesday night, what came up was the young man who casually stepped off the sidewalk and into the road in front of my pickup as I barreled down Canyon. A cigarette dangled from his mouth, he turned to face me and stared up at the truck in a funny way, just standing there, waiting.

He didn’t want to cross the street, otherwise he would’ve gotten on with it, so I have to presume the plan was for me to run him over. Instead, I swerved out of the way and four blocks later, figured out I should call someone to help him.

But now this column is an open letter to that dude.

Dear Dude,

This is a tough letter to write since I don’t know you or what you’re feeling. I don’t know if you’re disappointed in the world, or someone specific, or yourself. Maybe you were just really drunk and sad.

I hope the folks I called got to you before another car did. I hope you’re still around.

I’ll assume you’re having a terrible night, in a string of terrible days, during a season wherein the pressure to be happy, and feel loved and necessary and virile in a multitude of ways is so great, more often than not it works against itself.

I know what it’s like to want to die. I’ve struggled with depression on and off for about a decade. I know what it’s like not to have a job and lose hope of getting one, to not have a home to call your own, to have people you love die, leave you, betray you, or simply not love you back.

As a friend once described it, depression feels like being in a sand pit, and every reach to climb out seems to pull more sand down and bury you further. There’s sand in your eyes and your mouth. Sometimes there’s so much sand you don’t know which direction you’re facing.

I’m not gonna blow smoke up your ass and tell you that whatever you’re going through at the moment is going to right itself in the way you want it to, because I’ve been around long enough to know things don’t often work that way.

But I can say if you find a way to pull yourself along a little farther, there’s the distinct possibility some other wholly rad thing will occur.

If you’re steeped in our culture, a sense of joy feels like a birthright. I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t think it’s the rest of the world’s job to bring me satisfaction anymore. It’s mine. And that’s actually a little comforting because it means I’m the boss of something that directly affects my wellbeing.

Take charge of your path, dude. It’s yours. I once spent months shuffling around at work weeping and listening to sad bastard music and then going home and getting incredibly high, eating the Bavarian crème pie I’d keep under my bed. It’s gross, but it’s true. And bless her heart, my roommate at the time came home one night, handed me a steaming plate of mashed potatoes and brisket, and told me to call her therapist, who worked on a sliding scale.

So dude, call somebody. Maybe this number: 1-800-273-TALK. They have a webpage ( you can look at first to steel your nerves.

I’ll be thinking about you this holiday season while I’m staving off my own winter blues. And while I can’t bring you mashed potatoes and hot brisket, I’ll be sure light a candle for both of us.

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