Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ignore The Chaos

I lived with my sister and her husband twice.  They're no longer together but at the time, they owned a home on Long Island.  When I stayed with them initially, I had my own room.  It was a decent set-up.  But after their son was born and I returned to darken their doorstep several years later, I slept on a twin bed in the basement. All things considered, the accommodations were very nice.

Judy and Andy were school teachers for a while.  They had books all over the house. Rows and rows of literature, anthologies, college text material.  I was glad for these books.  I could pull a couple of novels to the front of a shelf and tuck my wine glass behind them.  Just in case either of them thought I might be drinking too much.

During the week, we all went to our jobs.  I took the train into the city.  We ate dinner together most evenings and after everyone was asleep, I drank all the beer and wine in the fridge.  I syphoned booze from their liquor cabinet and replaced it with water.  I raided their medicine chest.  I stole money from Andy's wallet and Judy's pocketbook.

On Friday nights, I walked across Vets' Highway to the liquor store.  I went next door to the pharmacy and loaded up on nasal decongestants, so I could make my drugs last longer.  Most weekends, my sister and brother-in-law tended to errands consistent with the maintenance of their household.  They stopped at the supermarket, Home Depot and Blockbuster Video.  They also liked going to Barnes and Noble, and a few times, I joined them.

Chain bookstores were just getting popular in the early 1990's.  I'd never seen anything like them.  I didn't understand why folks would want to buy books when they could just borrow them from the library.   Everyone looked so relaxed, engrossed in their selections or chatting quietly with companions.  I felt very anxious in this quiet space.  I remember wishing they sold drinks, like at a bar.  I also recall wanting to be able to read something, anything.  But I couldn't.  I lingered in the self-help section, jacked up and agitated.

I managed a purchase of two books during one of these outings.  A biography on the band REM and another called Stop The Chaos:  How to Get Control of Your Life by Beating Drugs and Alcohol.  It almost looked like a coloring book for kids.  I didn't want my drinking and drugging to be a problem, and I guess I thought the little cartoon diagrams would set my mind at ease.  I made sure no one saw me at the register when I bought my things.

Once we arrived home, I proceeded to get wrecked, as usual.  I headed downstairs to pursue my "reading."  I started the REM book and bounced through the first chapter on Michael Stipe, retaining nothing of what I'd just learned.  Then, I turned to that workbook, completing several surveys as honestly as I could with half a load on.  I cried myself to sleep.  I did that all the time.

The next morning, I couldn't even understand my writing.  In my heart, I knew this wasn't a good sign.  I slid the manual between the mattress and box spring and kind of forgot about it.  When I moved out of my sister's house the second time, I stripped the bed and came across the book again.  I tore both covers off and tucked it into the bottom of the kitchen garbage, burying my suspicions underneath some wet paper towels and coffee grinds.

I moved out and got on with my mistakes.

1 comment:

  1. "The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival."
    - Aristotle