THE LAST DAY.
At one of my parties
Well I wouldn't expect to be seeing you soon and that's fine
You have to know what and why
Those things make you happy
You have to know that a second guess ain't worth the try
Just some words of advice
Maybe you've heard them before but here goes
Just be true to yourself if it lands you in hell, well, at least now you know
Loud and clear is your heart big and bright are the places you might someday go
With one million things holding you down, why you're one of those things
I don't know, no big deal gotta go
("It You Had A Bad Time" – Alkaline Trio)
DAY 17: 5:01AM
My vision slipped in and out of focus as I stared out at the urban horizon. Over the asphalt and the buildings and muck in the air the most beautiful colors were coming to life with the rising sun. A golden glow painted everything it touched bringing light and warmth to animate and inanimate objects alike. Somewhere out there someone was taking a last breath. Somewhere out there someone was taking a first breath. There were people crying, people screaming, people in pain, and people caught up in the rapture of pleasure. There was a whole world of people starting their days as well as ending them. I wondered how many of those people were cherishing all those moments? How many people were stopping just to watch the sun rise?
I had a good day yesterday. If that would have been my last day walking the earth, I would have died happy. I felt like I was winning my own personal war. I felt like I had love and friendship and all those good things that being alive and still breathing offered those who were willing to stick it out. I had finally accepted a great many things. I knew my life was changing.
It seemed oddly poetic that now that I was ready to live again that I would be sitting on this balcony, smoking, and seriously pondering what death really meant – what a juxtaposition it was to life. One day, we all slip into the great unknown. On that day, moments will flash before our eyes. And we'll realize it's over. Whatever we had planned for that day ... well, the plan will change. We'll leave all our friends and lovers and family behind. Most of us won't even get a chance to give a proper goodbye. There will be no big send offs. That's why I wanted to make sure I made the most out of the here and now because today really was the first day of the rest of my life.
JANUARY 25, 2009: 6:01AM
I stood on the patio gazing out at the California sunrise. A memory flashed through my mind as I pulled a drag off my smoke and took another sip of my special blended Duncan Doughnuts coffee. It seemed like so long ago. It seemed like it almost happened to somebody else. But almost was a long way from the truth. It did happen. I was and always will be an alcoholic. Somehow, over the last four and a half years no alcoholic beverage has passed over my lips. There were times ... dark times ... where I wanted to reach for the comfort of a bottle and I'm pretty sure I would have, had I not gotten clean. I would have perpetuated my own sick cycle of self-harm via booze and pills.
I remember watching the sun rise over a decrepit New Jersey skyline and wondering how many people out there in the world were taking what they had for granted. I remember vowing to myself that I would do my best to live in the present – to be thankful for what I had – for what I had achieved.
All those wasted nights ... all the blood and the sweat and the puke and everything else ... well, I never thought I'd live to tell the tale, truthfully. Yet here I am – living proof that it's possible to go to the edge, get very close to jumping off, then turn around and come back.
I'd been up all night. Mostly talking with a couple good friends, but also just enjoying the peace and quite offered in the twilight hours. I always felt there was something magical about that time – that somehow doorways that were closed during the day were just slightly ajar then - allowing for a little peek into a place that few traveled. It's when I did some of my best thinking and creating.
Now a new day was indeed dawning. I had once been a wasted punk who only wanted to live fast and die young. Oh how things change. I now had a wife whom I loved more than life itself and together our love formed another life. I never imagined being a father but it was happening. Truth be told, I was still scared. I knew now that I could be responsible ... that I could support a wife and a kid ... but there was still a fear deep down inside. I was standing at the edge of another virtual cliff and I was about to jump off into the deep end and sink or swim. I just needed to have confidence in myself. I knew it was there because if it wasn't I wouldn't have been able to get to the place I was standing today. And at least I knew I wouldn't be doing it alone.
Just take it moment by moment, I silently repeated, and everything will be alright.
A/N: Well guys, it's been ... well, it's been a walk through the flames and back, but we've reached the end of the road here. Just so you know, THIS is the story I originally came here to tell. I didn't know it at the time though, but I know it now.
I'm not sure right now if I'll continue the "moments". It might just end with this – number 30. I'm sure I'll still have more stories to tell, but I feel like I've turned myself inside out writing this one ... I've put myself out in more ways than one. I hope you all got something out of reading it.
Just a few final things I have to say about this one ...
The lyrics at the beginning of each chapter ... they do kind of reflect the "mood" or have meaning for what was happening on that day. They're also all tracks that I love and that make me think about or remember certain moments in my life from during this time period.
Also this being the last "chapter", it's a little different from the others too because the last part is present day. It's my story so it's my prerogative, right? If I felt like writing something during this whole tale, I just did it. I think it's also the shortest chapter. I was able to say what I needed in a few words and was done with it.
And if you're curious, March 14th, 2004 ... that was my own personal "Day 8" - the "last drink" and yes, I still remember what it tasted like.