... it's day 12.
go on go on your choice is made
go on go on and disappear
go on go on away from here"
("In Between Days" – The Cure)
DAY 12: AT 12:35AM
After I turned off the key my hands went back to griping the steering wheel. It felt like I would lose myself if I let go but the sweat on my palms started to make my fingers slip. I could feel my heart thump dramatically inside my chest. I thought I was getting over this shit. A single question played over and over in my mind like a film reel that had slipped up – why? Why now?
Even with the upset stomach, I had still managed to have a good time hanging with the guys, so why was I feeling like this now? I wanted to slam my forehead into the top of the wheel. Try to slam some sense into my convoluted mind. Ambient light shown through the front windshield and I focused on my hands. My knuckles were white. How long had I been sitting there like that? I needed to start the car. Just turn the ignition and back the fuck up. This was wrong and I knew it.
It was like the forbidden fruit though. Could I resist that temptation? There was a devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear that I couldn't. I wondered where the angel went he seemed to have gone awol. I could feel a slight tremor starting in the center of my stomach and slowly making its way out like the ripples from a rock dropped into a pond. I wished Kat had come with me tonight.
I wanted to scream. The windows were rolled up. No one seemed to be around. I let loose with the most guttural howl I could muster. Nothing happened. The sound came and went without incident. If a guy alone in a car screams and no one else hears it, did it really happen?
Then it hit me. This was just another fork stuck in the road - another path diverging in the woods. The dream. This time I knew which one was the correct path, yet I sat there trembling in the driver's seat willing myself the strength to just reach down and crank the engine over.
I stared through the glass keeping my vision unfocussed. I tried to convince myself that maybe if I couldn't clearly make out what was in front of me it wasn't really there. But the focus would come back and the reality of the situation slapped me in the face. I knew exactly where I was and how I got there. Hell, I even knew that in a few more moments my façade would crack open and my soft and squishy insides would spill out for all to see. How could I be so malleable?
This week I had made some real progress in getting over my addition. At one point, I even realized and admitted that this was something I was probably going to have to deal with my whole life. If I was second guessing myself now, would I always? If I was weak now, would I always be? I had to have the balls to do this. I let go of the steering well, opened the car door and stepped out.
Ten steps … how appropriate. Ten steps were all it took to get from the car to the front entrance of the liquor store.
DAY 12: AT 12:56AM
Why the fuck are these places so god damn bright? No place should be this bright at one in the morning. I probably look like a crack addict right about now too. Twitching … looking around like someone I know is gonna pop out from behind one of these bottles … sweating. What are you doing, man? Don't walk down the fucking aisles. Whatever you do, don't pick up a bottle. Fuck. Whatever you do, don't caress that bottle longingly. Put the bottle back. That gumba at the front is already eyeing you up. He's probably caressing his 38 under the counter. Fuck it's gonna look really weird if I'm in here fondling bottles of booze and not buying anything. He's gonna think I've stuffed one in my jacket or something. I'm gonna end up in the Passaic river with some concrete overshoes. Why am I so fucking paranoid all of a sudden? Just breath. Fuck, I've been having to tell myself that a lot this week. I never had to tell myself to breath or calm down or stop fixating on my heart rate when I was wasted. If I can't make it through this though, I'm not gonna survive. My last drink will have not been my last drink. I need to have some fucking resolve. I need to pick the right path. I'm starting to live all over again and I can't have any qualms about walking in a store and buying a pack of smokes. Just go. One foot in front of the other. Go to the front counter. He's not gonna shoot you for not buying booze.
"Um, can I get a pack of Marlboro reds please?"
"That all yous want? Yous just come in here to look at booze or sumthin'?"
"Hah, I'm well, I'm … I quit drinking last week."
"Yeah yeah, that's what they all say. That's gunna be $3.18."
"Yous have a good night."
"Yeah, you too."
DAY 12: AT 9:09AM
My eyes flew open and I was breathing hard. I knew I'd had another dream or nightmare but it slipped from my grasp just as consciousness was coming back to me. I looked over to the other side of the bed and once again Kat had already gotten up. I hadn't told her about my stop at the liquor store on the way home last night, or early this morning, rather. She'd probably have been proud of me, but I still felt weak for even stopping there. I didn't even need cigarettes. I'd had a half a pack left. Somehow I'd walked outta there without a bottle in a brown paper bag. I felt like I had walked down a path of glass in bare feet. I was drained by the experience. It had sucked me dry like a vampire.
I stumbled out of bed, picked up a pair of somewhat clean jeans and a t-shirt off the floor and headed into the bathroom. I didn't even have the energy to shower let alone shave or brush my teeth. I tried to determine if I smelled that bad. I figured maybe after I ate and had a little bit of coffee in me that I could come back in here and get cleaned up.
I did my usual - look in the bathroom mirror to judge where I was on a scale of one to ten on the shit meter. I figured today was about a seven, but only because I felt so drained and out of it – and looked the part.
Sometimes I thought of the weirdest shit when I was taking a piss in the morning. Today, for what ever reason, I remembered I had wanted go pick up The Absolute Sandman at the comic shop to complete my collection. And also that I really wanted French toast. I could almost taste it while I was standning there.
I got dressed and lumbered out to the kitchen. I didn't see Kat, but there was a note on the counter.
TOOK OLIVIA FOR A WALK
IF YOU'RE READING THIS, THAT MEANS YOU'RE AWAKE (HAHA)
I REMEMBERED YOU WANTED FRENCH TOAST
INGREDIENTS ARE AT THE FRONT OF THE FRIDGE
POWERED SUGAR IS ON THE COUNTER
BE BACK BEFORE 10 BUT DON'T WAIT ON ME TO EAT
I looked at the clock. It was 9:31. I could sit there like a helpless fuck, or I could make the French toast. I wasn't a complete retard in the kitchen and I was jonesin for that toast, so I decided on the later option. By the time I had managed to make a giant mess and a stack of French toast, Kat came through the front door.
DAY 12: AT 11:06AM
It had been a long time since I'd hopped on the internet. My email was stuffed with all manner of spam and about 3 real messages. But I wasn't even really interested in checking the mail. My purpose today was research. I wanted to dig in and see what I could find about both alcohol and Xanax withdraw.
After about 3 solid hours of staring at the screen, reading other people's horror stories, and confirming that all the physical and emotional shit I had been going through was indeed related to withdraw symptoms, it felt like my eyes were going to fall out. At least it was a little reassuring that so many other people out there had been through what I was going through and lived to tell the tale. Maybe someday I'd do the same thing. Get on the fucking internet and spill my guts to strangers just so that one more person didn't have to feel like they went through it alone.
DAY 12: AT 4:21PM
Hmm. It's Brian. He's probably wanting an update on me. Although Frank said he talked to him yesterday. Guess he just wants to hear it from me.
"Hey Gerard. So how you doin' man?"
"I'm gettin' there. I had my last drink four days ago."
"Cool … cool. So the next show is September 11th … England. Have you guys hooked up with Bob at all yet?"
I can hear it in his voice that he doesn't quite believe me. Oh well, guess I'll have one more person to prove myself to.
"Uh, I haven't but I think Mikey and Ray met up with him and jammed a little bit. He'll be cool though."
"A'right … I have confidence in you guys. The label has confidence in your guys. I'm sure even the fuckin' fans have confidence in you guys."
Do you have confidence in me too?
DAY 12: AT 8:24PM
Kat and I were feeling particularly lazy so we went out to this local diner for dinner. I'd been dragging all day but I didn't want to get a coffee or a soda. I wanted to be able to sleep. I felt like falling asleep at the booth actually.
Instead of a hamburger, I went for the veggie burger this time. I figured it would be easier on my stomach than a quarter pound of dead flesh. Maybe Frank was on to something with that whole vegetarian shit. Although, I know I could never give up steak and sushi.
When we went out to dinner like this, it felt like a real relationship. I know that sounds really lame – as if I didn't take our relationship seriously or something. It's hard to explain though. I guess it comes from just not being around each other all the time like a regular couple. This was the first time in months that we'd been together for this many days in a row and we haven't gotten on eachother's nerves yet, so that meant something, right? I really loved Kat though there was no denying that. She was special. We'd had come to a number of understandings over the last few years. We never wanted to keep each other from pursuing our dreams and for that I was eternally grateful. I hadn't been in a lot of relationships and this was really the only serious one I had ever been in, but I felt like I was a real lucky fucker.