Monday, March 08, 2010

Self Impossed Solitary

I can feel the cold linoleum on my bare side. It's sending a cold chill all the way down to my toes. I open my eyes to look at the base of the toilet, it appears some of my vomit didn't make it into the bowl, and has dripped down the side. There's a small pool of orange-ish chunky liquid mere centimeters from my face. I feel blood slowly dripping out of my nose, across my upper lip and down the side of my face. It's almost like Chinese water torture, having to feel the slow moving liquid traverse so slowly. If I had more energy, or didn't feel like my head was going to explode, I would actually attempt to wipe it off. Instead, I allow myself this sadistic moment to remind myself that I'm actually alive. I've actually reached the age of 30 years, and one day.

I open my eyes again. How much time has passed? What time is it? What time was it last time? Maybe I'm thirty and two days, and I don't even realize it. Is it possible to sleep through an entire day? Isn't that called a coma? You can go three days without water, right? Can you go an entire day without going to the bathroom? Did I piss myself? I can't even tell. Are my legs missing? Are they so numb that I can't feel them?

I force myself to move, ever so slightly. Okay, I see two legs. That makes me happy. But, my pants do look wet, that doesn't make me happy. I close my eyes again. It was partially in relief, and partially because the light in the bathroom is killing me. Even with my eyes closed, I can feel my eye lids burning with light, and it's not pitch black in my mind's eye, instead it's a deep red color. I see lots of little bright lights swirling around. There's no way they can be real, and I don't know why my mind creates these things, their only purpose seems to be to make me dizzier and more nauseous. I force myself to open my eyes and face the bright lights. I believe that to be the lesser of two evils, when faced with the potential of emptying the rest of the contents of my stomach into the toilet bowl. If there's even anything left in my stomach, which its very plausible that there's nothing in there at all, which would explain the pain I'm feeling down there. If that is the case, then I'll gladly take the bright lights of this little bathroom, over dry-heaving into the toilet. My throat is currently dry, so I can only imagine the extreme pain and discomfort that would result in. I'm starting to become aware of the discomfort in my right shoulder. Slowly, but surely, I force myself to roll over onto my back. Well, I started off slowly, but at one point, gravity just took over and there I was, looking straight up at the ceiling.

I should really put up more wall decor in this room. These plain white walls are just so boring. I've never timed my bathroom visits, but I've usually got a copy of Maxim or Sports Illustrated to read. I'm pretty sure I'm just going to give the record to this visit: This is almost definitely the longest I've ever spent in this room. I wonder what other people have thought when they've been sitting in here? Do they grab a magazine off the toilet tank and read it? Or do they sit and stare at the wall, bored? Artwork. I should buy some artwork. But, what kind of artwork do you buy for a bathroom? I'm thirty years old, I should know the answer to this questions. What does my mother have in her bathroom? I can't even remember right now.

Is it possible to sleep with your eyes open? I don't remember closing my eye, but suddenly it seems like time has passed. I mean, I know time has passed, seconds are ticking away, every second. But, it feels like a serious amount of time has passed. Then again, I'm really in no shape to judge anything. That's kind of a double entendre, I really don't have the ability to judge the passing of time, and given my current circumstances, I don't believe I can judge any other drunk human being I ever see.

I remember when I first turned twenty-one. Oh jeez, that was nine years ago. Anyways, I went into a bathroom at a club, and saw a guy down on all fours vomiting into the toilet of a public bathroom. I remember looking at the wet, dirty, disgusting floor and seeing his pant legs soaked in what I can only assume was water, urine, and who knows what else? I remember telling myself that I would never be that guy, I'd never be that pathetic. I'm sure it's somewhat hypocritical, but I still justify to myself that I'm in this position in my bathroom, and not some public place where anyone and everyone can see me and judge me.

This could possibly be the worst hangover that I can remember. There's been some bad ones in the past, and college is really a four year blur. But, when you never sober up enough to remember things, it's really hard to know what kind of headaches you ever had during that period. Wow. Today is also kind of a milestone, now that I think about it. And think is all I've been doing for the past... hour? two hours? Whatever. Today's a milestone. I've officially been an alcoholic for half my life.

It was on my fifteenth birthday, that I went over to Marty Buckner's house, went down into the basement to "play pool", where we actually swiped an open bottle of Smirnoff Vodka. It was really kind of like a military mission. I remember loosening up my belt by one notch, so that bottle was snug against my stomach. Marty went upstairs first, and did the recon, while I stood at the top of the stairwell. The kitchen was clear, the laundry room was clear, and then I heard the code words: "Yo Joe!" That was cue to dart through the kitchen, through the laundry room, and I jump through the open door into the garage. Marty closed the door and we jetted to our bikes, parked in the driveway. It was so exhilarating. I peddled as fast I could, trying to get farther and farther away from the scene of the crime, with each rotation of the wheel, I felt like I was untouchable. We'd just pulled off an amazing heist, and I had the booty resting on my bike seat, buckled in by my belt. We peddled six blocks away, to Owens Park, and scouted things out. There was a giant, three-leveled fort in the center of the park. This was where we usually played, but obviously, there was a bunch of other kids playing there too. On the back side of the park, there were four over-sized tires, half buried in the sand. We made our way over to them, and found them vacant. That afternoon, I took my first sip of alcohol. And my second. And many, many more. The bottle was probably half full when we swiped it, and Marty and I probably drank half of what was in the bottle. That night, when we finally returned the bottle, I remember using the bathroom in the basement to add water back into the bottle, to get the level back to where it was before we took it. To my knowledge, we got away with it. I know neither one of us ever got in trouble for it, and the night we graduated from high school was the only time we ever admitted to any of our friends what we did that afternoon.

From that day on, it's been a blur of fifteen years. Obviously, it wasn't easy to regularly get my hands on liquor, and I often did some shady thing to satisfy my urge. I stole bottles friend's parents, sometime with my friend's knowledge, sometimes not. I dated one girl in high school, and every Friday night we would kill about half a box of Franzia wine that her parents kept in fridge. I remember driving to school every morning, and buying a big bottle of orange juice at the gas station. I'd drink half of it by the time I got to school, at which point I'd pop open the trunk, and pull out a giant bottle of Dark Eyes Vodka, which I'd mix with the OJ, in order to make my school days much more tolerable. I was lucky to have friends with older brothers, who were willing to buy thing for me, as long I financially compensated them for their generosity.

College was easy access. Rushing a fraternity my freshman year meant there would never be a shortage of booze in the house, and there would always be a senior brother to buy me anything I needed. After college, it was game on in the bars and clubs. Granted, that got old and boring after a few years, and then I just found myself to be the guy sitting alone at the corner of the bar, sipping on a Belgian White Beer, and doing shots of Jäger combined with Red Bull.

Then, there's nights like last night. There's those amazing, and often rare nights, where a number of closest and best friends all step away from their perfect lives, and wives, and children, and families, and they just throw caution to the wind, and we remember what it was like to be young, and dumb, and foolish, and over-indulgent. I know that I'm not the happiest person in life, I feel like I've always made the wrong choices at the wrong times, and I've lost a lot of who and what I wanted to be, "when I grew up". But, I have to believe that even my friends who I look at as having "the perfect life", have to sitting in their minds believing that they didn't turn out exactly who they wanted to be. I think the majority of people in this world are living with "settled lives". Lives which they have mentally convinced themselves are good enough, despite all of the things they never accomplished. No matter how they feel, or what they think about at night when they lie bed, it's always a great time when we get together and all decide to let loose. I'm really blessed that I do have the friends that I do.

How long has it been now? Suddenly my head doesn't hurt as bad. Don't get my wrong, it's still pounding, but that sharp pain that felt like a knife stabbing into the front right side of my skull, has gone down to just a numbing pain. Maybe it's time to try to get up?

I do it slowly. I push my body up, and put my shoulders against the wall. I slowly move my shoulders up, until I'm sitting straight up. My body feels like Jell-O. I'm weak. My hands are shaking, and I can't lock my elbows in place. The room gets a little dizzy, but the feeling passes after a few minutes. I take a moment to bury my face in my hands, cheeks feel puffy to the touch. When I pull them away, they are covered in nasty mixture of water, blood, and sweat. I grab a handful of toilet paper to wipe of my hands, and look to my right to throw it into the toilet. Mistake. Obviously, my drunken self never remembered to flush the toilet and I was forced to look at a disgusting lake of orange swamp water, which its main color came from the loads of buffalo wings we gorged ourselves on at dinner. There were little islands of floating peanuts, which I remember grabbing handfuls of from the bowls on the bar top. There was something green in there, possibly a pickle? Maybe a jalapeño? Whatever it is, I don't remember eating that. I'm also not sure why my nose was bleeding, but it was obviously bleeding badly, because there's one area of the lake that looks like an oil spill of red hydrophobic polarization.

I toss in the toilet paper, and thank God that my nose is clogged with snot and other mucus, because I can't imagine what it actually smells like in this room. I listen to the water swirl around in the toilet, before I actually look back at it. Ugh, there's still some remnants in there. I'm going to hate myself later, when I actually clean this up. I put one hand on the toilet bowl, and the other against the wall, as I force myself onto my knees and then finally up to my feet. I'm sure the entire process took less than a minute, but it honestly felt like an hour to me.

Once I finally made it to my feet, I moved myself over in front of the mirror, and got the horror of seeing exactly what I looked like. I'm pretty sure I looked worse than most horror movie monsters from the last 1970s. I had unidentifiable liquids and dried substances caked to my face. I cranked on the hot water at full blast, and the sound cut through my ears and into the deepest area of brain. This caused my knees to buckle, and I had to hold myself up on the counter. I quickly turned the water velocity down to an auditory-approved level. I cup my hands and place them under the water, and spend a good long time washing my face. There's stuff in my hair, but I don't mess with it yet. A shower is my number one priority, as soon as I make it into the master bathroom.

I open the medicine cabinet, and pull out my painkillers. I've still got a couple of prescription drugs from a surgery I had last year. I've been saving them for a special occasion, and I think this qualifies. I pop two of them into my mouth, and almost instantly have a gag reflex. I stop myself, and quickly wash it down with water. I don't think water has ever tasted this good. Does water really taste good? I've never really been a fan, but this is amazing. Maybe I really love water? Whatever the case, it's my favorite right now, and I pour myself another glass. I chug the water like it's an Irish Car Bomb, and as enter my stomach, it's almost as if the water is giving me a recon report, and telling me: "I'm alone in here, your stomach is empty". It's at this point that I think it might be time to eat something. However, as I have that thought, it's juxtaposed with the other half of my brain thinking that if I put anything in my stomach, I'm going to be right back in front of that porcelain bowl.

I stare at myself in the mirror, while my brain argues with itself. Meanwhile, another part of my brain starts attempting to force myself to finally leave this self-imposed prison that I've been keeping myself in for who knows how long. I try to convince myself that I can move, I can walk, I can make it out of this room. I look at my splotchy red cheeks and wonder how long it's going to take those burst capillaries to heal up? I finally feel like I'm ready to go, but one step in, and I find myself holding onto the wall to prevent myself from falling over. My legs don't seem to have the blood flowing to them properly. My second attempt involves baby-steps, while I support myself against the wall. I finally make the short trip from the sink to the door, and when I attempt to free myself from this solitary, I look out into the real world with only one question...

"What happened in my living room?"

This is an entire work of fiction - I don't want to scare my parents! It was an exercise that forced me to write, and I wanted to test myself on my descriptive abilities to paint a visual picture to the reader, from a first person perspective.

I hope to write a couple of more short exercises, and then get back into seriously writing my novel. I pitched the novel to some friends on Saturday night, and was very pleased with the feedback I got from them, so I'm really forcing myself to MAKE the time to write everyday.