I don't recognize
This is the beginning
Of the end."
~ Trent Reznor
Whoo! Sorry I haven’t written in so long. Thanks to everyone who has emailed and texted, threatening bodily harm if I didn’t post something new. Very endearing. I felt very loved and/or afraid for my personal safety. I appreciate your support :)
So! I’m sure you all want to know...have I smacked myself stupid with OxyContin yet? Ate my way through a Denny’s restaurant before succumbing to cardiac arrest? Sold my ovaries on the black market to pay my own bail?
Not yet! Though I have only been out a few days.
Only kidding. Things are going remarkably well.
I know. I know. I don't get it, either.
Thursday night I was out in the real world for approximately two whole hours, before returning to the hop-sital for the AA meeting. I brought my smallest dog Moo Moo back with me, and took her upstairs to Unit 32 for Buchenwald-The-Lifer to babysit, who herself almost went into cardiac arrest with excitement when we arrived.
After dropping Moo off with the anorexics, I hurried downstairs again, and got to the meeting room with only a minute to spare.
“Kage!” All the regulars greeted me warmly, and I grinned. I liked being part of a group, even if it was a bunch of fecking alcoholics.
“Did you sign in yet, Kage?” Chatty/Cheerful/Bit Crazy asked me from the far end of the table.
“Nope,” I said, and held up my tattooed, but otherwise unadorned, wrists. “I’m a civilian now.”
“Wah-hey!” A cheer went up around the room, and I graciously flashed the devil’s horns all around.
“Ah, thank-you, thank-you,” I said magnanimously, curtseying left, then right.
“Yes, alright, thank-you, Kage,” Paddy rolled his eyes from the head of the table. “Do you mind if I call the meeting to order now?”
“One more,” I said, and curtseyed to the back of the room, “Okay, I’m done.”
He shook his head. “Okay, then. May I - “
“Sorry, one more,” I said, and curtseyed again, elaborately.
“And who was that one for?” he asked, exasperated.
“For me, Paddy. For me.” I smiled winningly, and sat down with my coffee.
Maybe I don’t need any more coffee...I wondered, vibrating. I had already slammed an extra large, before my parents and I had even pulled out of the hop-sital parking lot, two hours earlier. Perhaps it was all too much, after a month without caffeine? Maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe MAYBE?
Paddy finally got the meeting under way. It went really well, as the hop-sital AA meetings always seem to. Afterwards, I picked up Moo Moo from Unit 32, and we marched back down the hill to the mint parking spot where Trent the Tracker was waiting for us.
Oh, I should prolly mention the hill. So’s, I didn’t wanna pay for parking, see's? Cuz I’m bankrupt and cheap now, see's? And the massive hill leading up to Blah Blah Hop-sital would burn a shit load of calories were I to walk up it, see's? So’s I did, see's? And I’m gonna walk up it every Monday and Thursday until the weather turns to shat, see's? Even though Moo Moo copped out halfway up the hill, and I had to pick her up and carry her the rest of the way to hop-sital, see's?
So's? Do you see's?
Anyway, Thursday was fine. Friday was fine too, I arsed around at the ‘rents house, unpacking and setting up my new room. Mum has given up her office on the main floor with the clear glass door for a few months, so that I may, a) be in a better location to take care of the dogs, and b) be easier to spy on. But since I don’t plan on having anything to hide, I don’t really give a shit. Dad and I built an Old Maid’s bed together (well, he built, I sipped coffee and cooed lovingly at the dogs) and then a bureau (again, he built...), and I set them up the way I wanted them in Mum’s office.
Afterwards, I ate dinner with Dad (he ate normal food, and I ate...hop-sital type food). Then I headed over to the Beat Her Jawless Hop-sital for an NA meeting.
I was only a few minutes late, but the room was absolutely packed. Additional chairs had to be brought in from another room for myself and the few stragglers that came in after me, and we were stuck in the corner in an awkward clump.
The seat directly beside me had only a water bottle on it, for the first fifteen minutes or so. A big black guy sat on the other side of it, telling people to piss off whenever they came and asked if the seat was taken. Eventually, the door to the meeting room opened again, and the owner of the water bottle sauntered into the room.
I don’t know how I knew he was the proprietor of the seat beside me. Maybe the black guy protecting his precious chair did something to give it away, changed his body language or nodded at him or something. Whatever, I looked up and watched him enter the room, and as I was watching him, he looked at me and clocked me looking at him, and grinned. I quickly looked away.
Oh, fuck, I thought. Please no.
Dude was a walking stereotype, and not even a trendy one - he was an old stereotype, a dated one. What’s the term...Chachi? Remember when people used to wear velour track suits? Guys would wear really baggy, velvety pants with matching zip-up jackets, hip hop kicks and lots of bling? You know, back in the 90s, when the Spice Girls were in? (They still are, in my heart). That’s what this guy was wearing, as he approached our adjacent chairs.
I tried hard to look so very focused on whoever was speaking at that moment in the meeting, nodding along to what they were saying, like wow, that’s powerful. I watched Buddy in my peripheral as he picked up his water bottle and sat down, then adjusted his pants, then cleared his throat, then crossed one leg over the other, all the while looking at my face, waiting for me to turn my head and make eye contact.
I steadfastly refused.
Throughout the rest of the meeting, I could feel him trying to get my attention. Every time I would turn my head to the left he would look up, ready to meet my eye. I kept playing dumb, but I was starting to get self conscious, like how much longer could I keep pretending not to notice my fucking shirt was on fire?
Eventually, the bull got tired of tiptoeing, and just plowed through the china shop.
“Hey,” he whispered, and nudged me gently with his elbow. “I’m Cool Guy.”
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!” I said, like I was surprised to find there was someone sitting beside me.
“What’s your name?” he said quietly.
“Kage,” I said reluctantly. Ah, he was gonna find out anyway.
“And how are you doing, Kage?” he asked with a cheeky grin.
Bitch, are you for real? I wondered. We’re in a fucking meeting.
“I’m good,” I said, then I turned back in the direction of whoever was speaking, and hoped that would be the end of it.
He asked me a few more questions throughout the meeting, and I tried to play up just how fucking NUTS I am, but he was still waiting to talk to me after the meeting. So I went up to a goth girl with terrible makeup (oh, honey, that much lime green? No) and chatted with her for a few seconds, until Cool Guy was busy talking to someone else. Then I legged it for the door.
When I was safely out of the room again, I pulled Mr. Reznor out of my pocket and blasted his music in my ears, and set off for the parking lot at a brisk pace.
Phew! Fucking Chachis.
When I reached Trent the Tracker, I checked my mobile, and saw that M had just called. I called him back, and he invited me out on the town!
"Do you wanna go and see a few bands with me?" he said.
"What, tonight?" I asked, glancing at Trent's digital clock. It was already half nine.
"Well, I'll have to ask my Daddy," I snickered. "But yes, I do."
I decided on the drive back to Mum and Dad's that I was leaving this one up to the universe to decide for me. If dad said he didn't mind me going out to a bar until the wee hours of the morning when I was only 24 hours out of the hop-sital, then I could handle it. If he said no, it was cuz I wasn't ready for it.
He said yes.
I excitedly fed the dogs and got my snack ready to take with me, then spent several painful minutes trying on and discarding all my clothes that no longer fit. I somehow managed to not have a meltdown, though, and eventually settled on Rock N Republic Jeans, a black, off-the-shoulders t-shirt, and heels.
We ended up going to a couple of different places that night, and saw some really good bands. I had a lot of fun, and get this - it didn't even occur to me to drink. I didn't have a thought, a craving, nothing. All the suffering was just gone. I didn't think about it, even once.
So that was Friday. Saturday started off with an Eating Meeting in - get this - a fucking GROCERY STORE. Raha! Can you believe that? The first time I tried to go to that particular meeting was before I went into hop-sital. I had written down the address of the meeting, but none of the other information that had come up when I searched OA’s website. So when the address led me to a grocery store, I thought, You have got to be fucking joking. I went in anyway, and looked around, trying to find a meeting or community room of some sort. I couldn’t find it, though, so I ended up spending twenty bucks on junk food and throwing it all up again.
This time, that wasn’t an option, though, partly because I don’t have any fecking money anymore, but more because I don’t purge anymore. I went to Customer Service instead, and asked them where the meeting room was.
Turns out you have to go into Customer Service and up a back stairwell to get to what is, in reality, their staff room. How the fuck was I supposed to find that?!
When I got upstairs, I was in for another surprise. There was only one woman there, in leggings and a Harley Davidson t-shirt, sitting at a long, empty table in the meeting/staff room.
“Hi!” she smiled at me. “Are you looking for OA?”
“Yup,” I smiled back awkwardly.
“Well, come on in,” she boomed, and spread her arms open. “We get the whole room to ourselves today.”
“Yay,” I said weakly, and shuffled slowly into the large room. We aren’t seriously going to hold a meeting for two people, I thought.
Oh yes, we were! And by the book, too.
She had just come from Curves, that chicks only circuit gym thingummy, and apologized for her appearance. “Normally I would never set foot outside the house without my lipstick on,” Curves laughed, as she set up all the meeting literature on the table. “But I said to myself, the meeting is more important. Get a move on.”
She was a sweet lady, and when she insisted on conducting the meeting exactly as it was laid out in the handbook, I said nothing, and indulged her. It seemed a bit contrived and laborious to me - why couldn’t we just talk to each other? - but it seemed to matter a lot to her.