Six years ago today, I woke up, or came to is more like, in
a room in my shared apartment in the Sunset District on San Francisco. In my
room was everything I’d brought with me to San Francisco, so, two suitcases,
and a pillow. When I’d moved into the room, I didn’t even have a bed.
In the other rooms in the house, lived the “angriest pot
head I’ve ever met” (though I concede, I could be more than a bit techy
myself), and another lanky UCSF student who liked to talk about LOST.
That morning, I got myself together, and went out to drive
downtown to a job interview I’d gotten through a temp agency. I’d been in San
Francisco two weeks to the very day.
Outside, I realized I had no idea where I’d parked my car.
The day before, my only SF friend’s boyfriend’s band was playing at the Park
Chalet out by Ocean Beach, and I’d gone, for the first time in my memory, with
the intention that I was not going to drink that day. But, we all know a Bloody
Mary is a breakfast drink… and so, several pitchers and hours later, I come to
in the middle of a conversation with a dude I don’t know.
The band was gone. The sun was setting. And my friend was no
where to be seen. I excused myself from this stranger, and called my friend to
ask where they were, and she told me I’d said to leave me there. I asked where
they were, she said the Marina. So, I stumble to my car, … and realize I have
no idea where “The Marina” is. So I ask a passing couple if they do. And the
first thing they ask is, Are you sure you’re okay to drive? Sure… No problem.
Once in my car, I realize I need gas, so I decide to do that
first, and then, by Divine intervention realize I’m too drunk to go out, and
drive back to my apartment and pass out.
Therefore, the next morning, as I stand squinting in the rising
light, I have zero recollection of where my car is, and I begin to walk in
increasingly large circles of blocks looking for it. I call the police – Have
you towed it? I call the tow lot – Is it there? No. After nearly a half-hour of
increasedly frantic walking, I turn the corner on my way back to my apartment,
and there it is. Parked nice and neat just around the corner from my house.
I apparently was not sure if I was parked “nice and neat,”
however, as scrawled across my dashboard is a note that reads, “PLEASE DON’T
TOW MY CAR. THANK YOU.” And my phone number.
That was the last morning I woke up hungover.
For six years, I have not washed beer grime out of my
clothing. I have not managed my drinking with a steady pace of water or advil
or corona to polka dot the vodka. I have not puked in six years. I haven’t peed
while leaning against the side of a building. I haven’t woken up next to a
stranger. I haven’t slept with taken men.
I don’t have “UDI”s – a college-invented term: Unidentified
Drunken Injuries. You know, those bruises you really don’t know how you got. I
don’t have names saved in my phone as “Pinky Guy,” “Bar Nana,” or “Scary
Scott.” For six years, I’ve known where I am when I wake up.
And here’s where I am when I wake up today. Strikingly
similarly, I am heading into downtown San Francisco today to apply for a job.
I’m following up in person on an application to a gallery job I applied for
last week. I’ll be going through the rest of that building with my resume as
well, and be leafleting for my workshop next Saturday.
This morning, I wake up in my own apartment. My very own
studio. With furniture. A cat – my monument to a crumbling resistance to
commitment and love. Car stolen, I have a bus pass and many logged BART hours.
I have a bicycle, and a coffee maker, and magnetic poetry on my refrigerator.
My life is imminently different than it was six years ago. Yet, there are some details that I want to label as “the same” – single, unemployed,
financially insecure. But these are just similarities, not clones. The
difference between how I will show up to the job search today is that it began
with Morning Pages, meditation, and a blog to you, friends who I’ve met over
these last six years – people who actually, sometimes, maybe, sorta, like me! From here, I’ll go hang out with some of you
folks for an hour, and remind myself of the miracle it is that I get to walk through all this. All this human emotion and
My life is eventful – but not chaotic. My life path is vague
– but not hopeless. Most of all, my heart is warming – and my soul doesn’t house that painfully threadbare echo-chamber anymore.
I still get to practice. I’ve absolutely loved engaging in a thrilling, alluring, morally ambiguous “Drink with Two Legs” distraction this past few days – it’s been wonderful to feel
something other than uncomfortable. But in the end, my conscience (and my
exuberantly caring friend) reminded me yesterday that I’m living in a way so
that I don’t have to feel bad about myself or my behavior anymore. So that I
don’t have to clean anything up later, if I can help it (unless it’s dishes).
I’ve watched myself walk to the edge of decency, and reel myself absolutely
kicking and screaming back from the temptation to throw myself in.
See, my life is full of people who remind me that there is a better
way. That this is only a beginning, and that I can hang on to the love that
I’ve built within myself. That it’s safe to do so.
I thank you, Danger-Will-Robinson lure, for your welcome and
passionate resurrection of a part of me that has long been dormant. And I thank
YOU, reader, friend, lovers, G-d, for helping me to learn there’s
nothing wrong with my Vixen, as long as she doesn’t slice away at my self-esteem.
So, here’s to six years of learning the easy way, the hard way. To
six years of sitting in rooms with people who are learning the same. To six
years of showing up on every inch of the spectrum from megalithic tantrum to blissfully
serene. And to just one more day of this unusually verdant path.