It was a day like any other day. I woke up with a headache and a very upset stomach. An Alka-Seltzer was the magic trick most mornings, along with a Diet Pepsi. I liked coffee at this point, but did not have immediate access to it in my dorm room. Like most mornings, I had to clean out my garbage can from the night before, having thrown up at some point the night before, like most mornings, I had no recollection of doing so.
On my way back from the pop machine I saw my neighbor’s door open and decided to stick my head in and say hello. I wasn’t just being social. I was trying to piece together the events from the night before, especially after the bar. At the bar, things followed a pretty normal pattern. I’d sit and get drunk, hang out for a while with friends and leave sometime between midnight and two. It was when I was alone that things got bad. Even before cell phones drunk dialing was a thing and I managed to do it on a fairly regular basis. As much as I can remember, I was in a particularly foul mood that night; pissed at an ex-girlfriend, pissed at myself, and the feeling of absolute worthlessness was overwhelming. Even after all this time it’s hard to write, but I don’t think there was ever a time before or since that I was as close to suicide as I was that night. I had settled on a method after much thought and was trying to decide between actually going through with it or hitch hiking to California, that night. I decided to call my friend Melissa to say goodbye, one-way or the other. To be honest, I have no idea what I said, what she said or even when I hung up. The next thing I knew I woke up.
I got a few details from my neighbor as it turned out. For some reason I was pretty loud that night, or made a scene coming home, which was much more common than I was aware. He told me I was in pretty bad shape, which for me was saying something. We were talking a bit more and then he said something that I’ve never forgotten, “Have you ever thought of quitting drinking for awhile?” I have no idea if he had a relative in AA, or knew someone who was sober or was just an observant guy. To be honest, I can’t even recall his name anymore, but every year on this day I’m grateful that he asked that question.
It’s been a few years since I wrote about getting sober, but for me anyway, it is still worth writing about, still a moment that I need to remember. Remembering that ordinary day and how, twenty-two years later (holy moley!) it was never an ordinary day again.