I feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I push them down with a gulp of my malt liquor. "I just don't understand, man " I utter to my companion. He is half asleep, half passed out. We are pan handling across from the strip clubs down past the financial district. I clench my 40 ounce a little tighter. I am on my own here. He is a pissy squatter kid, content to drink whiskey in the morning, pass out in the afternoon, then smoke a rock at night to get him going on more booze. He has vegan boots, dreaded hair, crusty facial piercings that haven't quite healed. I grip my brown paper bag with a purpose. I need some drugs. The last time I got this drunk, I was throwing bottles across the Sub Galley trying to hit someone in the head. As the glass shattered, all I felt was angry at life. Fuck all this shit. Fuck my life. I am two 40ozs into an afternoon and I need some drugs. The booze isn't working anymore. The concrete is hard, I am broke and angry and the day is just getting started.
I walk past this spot many years later. I am harder now than I was in 1992. My hair is straight, my hips are wider, my tattoos are better, my hygiene is on point. It is funny how the main things I learned in rehab started with the correct way to wash my hands and ended with how to make my bed. You would have thought I was a child again. I am alone again. I do most things alone. I walk alone, I go to meetings alone, I go to meetings alone, I eat alone, and that is entirely okay with me. I have friends but I am not ashamed of my own company. When I moved into sober living, I brought a lifetime of baggage. Slowly, patiently, I unpack my resentments.
The club is hot inside. They have all ages days that cost $6-10 to see bands all day. At first, I couldn't be around anyone that was drinking. I would smell the beer and my mouth would start to water. But I remember who I am. Some people can have a drink or smoke pot after quitting hard drugs. We call that "punk rock clean". I am not one of those people. I have tried it. TRUST ME. I tried it. My brain instantly announces it's desire for MORE. Like seriously fuck this shit, where is the REST of it.
I come in between two bands. I am late and early at the same time. The show will go on all night.
"There is no where to sit..." I mumble to myself. Then there was the offer that would change my life.
He pointed to his knee. He said "You can sit on my lap."
This was not a creeper offer. Or even overly sexual in nature. We had been friends, this man and I. We had gone out to eat. We had even seen the movie "Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street" together in the movie theatre. Normally, I would cringe at such a suggestion. My life was filled with older dudes from recovery that were constantly searching for a vulnerability in my boundaries. This was not just about a seat. It was about taking a risk. I was afraid, I was too chubby, or too old, or undesirable to anyone except the most broken of individuals. That moment, I was none of those things. I was at home.
When he put his arm halfway around me, I felt a spark like electricity of sorts. And that was that. There was no kiss that evening. I wasn't even sure if he would call me. But I was excited at the possibilities.
The 28th will be 14 years