Not long ago I was in the 7-Eleven in Geneva. There was maybe three other people waiting to pay. One of the guys was five-ish years younger than me and barely-stand-up drunk. He was having a party of one, talking to himself, and talking to the other people even if they were doing their best to: not encourage him. To ignore him. And wait out his staggering around non-sense. Like when you tough out a deep cleaning at the dentist.
7-Eleven had their ambient classic rock playing over the ceiling speakers and the drunk dude turned around and asked the guy in front of me, “Who sings this song? Damn, this is good. I can’t remember what they’re called.” The second guy is like, “I don’t know who sings it” in all out pretty much disgust with drunk dude.
Sometimes I see an old photo of me and I think, “that’s a fun picture…but I was drunk for that whole weekend.”
I went to visit the family in Ottumwa in June 2011 just like Maggie and I did last week. But I was by myself and started drinking as soon as I got on the Amtrak that took me to Iowa. And I did see everybody and all that but I drank and I drank and I drank. Pretty much the whole time. Because that’s what I did when I was that me.
I always felt kinda ashamed of myself when I went into the liquor store before noon. But after sitting across the street from one for the last month and a half, I don’t anymore. All kinds of folk in and out of there all day long.
In other news, in another era I drank way too much of all of these except for the Ripple.
When I got to the place where I couldn’t stand myself anymore, where I didn’t want to be the person I’d always been. And not do the same things I’d always done, I can see now that’s when I had reached the breaking point.
The pain of being me had broken my very soul. Fuck.
It wasn’t the drinking, it wasn’t ever the drugs. It was me. It wasn’t the traffic or the other drivers. It wasn’t other people at all. Well, it was some of those people…but when that blanket of denial was pulled back just far enough I could see, when a light came on that cast a clarity almost too bright on what I’d been doing to myself nothing ever looked the same again in the days after.
Thinking back to that moment and all the desperate, frantic pain, tortured to tears, completely sober and sick of being myself, that’s when I turned a corner and walked down a path I’d only heard other people talk about.