My life’s cadence is played on a detuned sousaphone, a brassy warble that clumsily intrudes on my enjoyment of the surrounding melody. I’m a drunkard. I’m probably an alcoholic. I’m being evasive from fear of the response. I’m absolutely an alcoholic. The question “Am I too young to be an alcoholic?” has crossed my mind. And yours too. And it’s a cop-out. It’s a way of allowing yourself to explain away your actions because your sense of self-preservation has a fucked up queue of priorities with easy dopamine right at the bottom of the fucking pyramid. I look at every member of my paternal family and I see the same life plotted out. If it isn’t true now, it’s true down the path and I refuse to keep jogging along it wearing out my calves in the process.
This month is October. It is a theme month. The theme of the month is personal denial in either the form of Stoptober or Sober October, for quitting smoking and drinking respectively. The month after that, the theme is you grow a moustache if you’re able.
Theme months are kind of bullshit.
But let’s relish this chance, I say to myself. Your intake of alcohol is leading to diminishing returns, knocking back inhuman measurements most every night for any sense of calm. Can you afford it? Literally no. Figuratively either. The booze isn’t an aid for excitement and a lack of inhibition, it’s an off-switch. It’s a way to stuff anxieties into a tiny box in an oft ignored drawer in a room which smells like settled dust and stale air. And it’s better than being bored, which you are. You’re bored by everything. You’re bored by how you feel when you aren’t drunk. You’re bored by everything you do when you’re not drunk. Sober is how everyone else feels, too. Why wouldn’t you want to feel different? Nothing gets any better, but at least you don’t have to notice.
I’m asked what I’m like when I’m drunk, and my short (practiced) answer is always to move my hands toward myself like I’m one of the models on The Price Is Right and I’m showing off a brand new washer-dryer combo which retails for $1,400. Only it’s me. And then I say back to the person “This. I’m like this.”
But the anxieties come back. And they’re worse now than before. I worried about living in a shitty town with nothing to do. Now I worry that spending my entire life drinking is going to keep me stuck here. I hate that my job has nothing to do with my degree. Now I worry that it’s the only job I can do in this state.
Alcoholism is an elephant that stands in your eyeline and causes you to crane your neck for any other perspective on the world. I want to catch a mouse and get that elephant to fuck off. I want to go 30 days without a drink and then I want to go 30 more and 30 more until I can’t hold any more multiples of 30 in my head any longer and I have to start counting in years. And then I start counting instead in distances. I’m a town away from where I lived when I was drinking. I’m a country away. I’m on another continent. I escaped into fucking space. I’m 100 kilometers above earth revolving around there so fast I forget to even look again.
I’m not soliciting donations for a charity. Because I’m going to fail and that this’ll all be a disappointment and I’ve written something heartfelt and revealing for no real sake. And that’d be sort of funny. Having to backtrack this years down the line when I’ve gotten less frustrated but still in as much trouble. I’ll laugh. That was a long time ago, I’ll say. Things are different now. I’ve got a better handle on it. And I’ll lie until I’m convinced. And I’ll lie until I’m dead.