I was walking in a state forest the other day and came across this rock. It was along a jeep road trail that led to a lakeside flat. At the flat was a place to hang out and it was obvious this was a place to party. Not to badly littered but there were some broken bottles and trash around. There was also a place in the center of things for a fire.
Boy did this bring back memories. I used to get drunk with my friends in an out of the way place. Along some railroad tracks, behind a bowling alley, near a major interstate bridge overpass. It was a perfect place to hang out where no one else went. On the populated side of the bowling alley was a strip mall and a liquor store. There we would figure out a way for someone to get us alcohol and from there we would retreat to our hideout. We were just kids but we might as well have been looking at what we could become – drunken bums that lived in the shadows, drinking in out of the way places.
Sadly during that time of my life, being at the place drinking was some of the happiest times for me. I felt misunderstood (and a lot of other uncomfortable emotions) and drinking took that away. Besides most of my buddies were nascent alkies too. We were brethren and understood each other. It was a peaceful break from being around parents, other adults, other kids. Today I can see this was the beginning of my flight in to isolation and loneliness.
I do not know of anyone from that group of friends that has gotten sober except for me. There were three of my best friends in high school among that group. One turned out to be a hard drinker that stopped partying once he ‘”grew up.” Another has been living a horrible life for the last twenty plus years. Living on the streets of New York City, in and out of relationship with a women that sold herself to support her drug habitat, he has had aids for years. He may be dead by now, although I always think that and then he has a way of reappearing. When I do see or hear of him it is a chance to look in a strange kind of mirror. If I was still using, and could have some how still managed to not die, this is what I could be.
The third of our tight little click killed himself 21 years ago. I had been sober about a year and a half when this happened. I had seen him a few months before and my friend seemed empty, hollow and sad. I attended his wake and funeral and will never forget the sadness. Many people asked me why would he have done such a thing? I couldn’t tell them that I felt I understood his motivation – he just could not take it anymore. The pain, the loneliness, the everyday struggle with knowing you just cannot escape this inexplicable fate of needing to drink, needing to stop and nothing you do works.
I am so grateful for my sober life.