Monday, March 15, 2010
Saturday, I put you in the Ergo carrier for our daily stroll and we walked through the rain storm to visit your Daddy at work. Being so close to St. Patrick’s Day, the city had erupted in shamrock themed parties being staged all over the city and attended by young drunkards wearing green shorts over their leggings, carrying broken umbrellas and sporting leprechaun stickers on their faces. I bobbed and weaved through the streets with my hand over your head to shield you from the uncertainty of what might happen next. I shot a judgment filled dirty look at a group of girls holding up their friend in an alley while she puked. How quickly I’d forgotten where I came from.
After our visit with Daddy, we turned towards home and that’s when I saw that Sansom Street had been cut off from traffic for a rain drenched street party. I could turn on 19th and avoid the chaos, or I could walk through the crowd now huddled under plastic tents and sidewalk awnings, red keg cups in their hands. I rationalized that I was curious and I walked towards the music and the smell of beer and hot dogs. I peered into the plastic tents filled with green shirts and young faces, I smelled the body odors mixing with beer and cigarettes, I listened to the laughter, awkward conversation and bad eighties music and suddenly I was transported through time.
Suddenly, I was seventeen again and it was Friday night before a big football game. I had blue and white paint stripes on my face and was wearing my brothers letterman’s jacket. The party was high on a hill and the rain was soaking my hair, water crawling up the bottom of my jeans. Milli Vanilli sang Blame it on the Rain from a car speaker. The warm buzz from my Miller High Life made me impervious to the damp and cold. I held the golden bottle as if it was a trophy – thinking I was impressing my older girlfriends with my choice of a long neck quality beer. Some of the girls smoked cigarettes and tried to shield them from the drops of rain falling from the tree branches. The bleak Tacoma air could not dampen the feeling of a night full of possibilities. The only light on the hill came from the distant football field, making it difficult to navigate through the forest of people. But that only added to the electricity when the cute boy from Spanish class bumped up against me. His hand brushed against my arm and he gave me a plastic red cup for the keg.
“Those are worth $5.00 you know,” he said with a lopsided smile. I breathed in his scent of chewing tobacco, beer, gym socks and youth.
My friend Kelly nudged me from behind so that I knocked into him again. I giggled, he smiled and I hoped the cops wouldn’t come before I had a chance to kiss him.
When I drank, something exciting always happened.
And then I was back on Sansom Street, watching a young woman with a “Kiss me I’m Irish” t-shirt hanging onto the arm of a very tall and handsome twenty-something. I wondered if she would go home with him tonight and make-out in the lobby of his dorm room. And that is when I had the urge to be inside the party, drinking, letting go of the week, being free, flirting recklessly with a drunken frat boy, chain smoking cigarettes and waiting for an adventure to find me. I took a few steps towards the tent but then I realized that you were still strapped to my belly in the Ergo carrier.
My reverie of high school dances, fraternity parties and drunken adventures ended abruptly. Not because I recalled what comes after the adventure; the vomiting, the dry-mouth, the headache, the cheating, the broken relationships, the lying, the stealing, the poor self-esteem, and the depression. But because I thought of how ridiculous I must look. I’m a mom now. Between me and the next drink is a little bundle of life that depends entirely upon my sensibilities.
I took one last languid glance at the scene, turned and walked away.
Today I celebrate seventeen years of sober living and I am so grateful. I am grateful for you, for your Daddy, for the gifts of recovery and for the woman I’ve become because of these things. I am blessed with a loving and supportive family, real friends, a warm and welcoming home, healthy food on the table every night, a spiritual connection with something greater than me, and a guide to daily living. I've been able to create a purposeful life built on the foundation of service, love and tolerance.
It is my hope that you will never know me as I was before I began to work the twelve steps. I have so many reasons to savor this life, and you are one more.