i’m a walker. During my drinking life, when in the middle of a binge, i would often simply stand up, step away from the table, leave the room and walk off looking for adventure. If it wasn’t my night, i would find it.
One night i went to a party at a friend’s house and over stayed my welcome so much that he insisted i spend the night in his guest room. At about 2am he put me down for the night and went to join his wife in the bedroom down the hall. Then i got the urge to walk.
i snuck out of their apartment and walked the dark streets of their neighborhood until i reached a larger and infamous suburb west of Yeaman City. This was not the kind of place you walk after dark, and especially not at 2am when you’re drunk.
A group of young people was hanging out in a deserted public square and, me being me, i approached them and tried to drunkenly befriend them using my bad Yeaman accent. After blabbering with them a few minutes, one of the gang pulled me aside and whispered it would probably be a wise decision on my part to cut the conversation short and call it a night.
So i did.
i got about three minutes away when i did my inventory. Keys – check, sunglasses – check, pen & notebook – check wallet … my wallet was missing. i’d nearly gotten away free and clear but some time during our exchange one of the group had liberated my billfold.
Not just angry but drunk angry, i stormed back to group and started telling them off for being so badly raised that they would take advantage of another person that way. So they did the normal thing and kicked my ass.
i was knocked down, kicked, punched and my neck was scratched when someone tore off my gold chain. The flurry of blows lasted only a matter of moments before another loitering group came over and shooed my attackers away.
As i left the scene, i was humbled and sad and a little lost. Especially when i touched the back pocket of my jeans. My wallet was there– i’d had it the whole time. It had never been stolen and was, ironically, the only thing that remained of my excursion.
Hello, my name is Al and i’m an alcoholc.
Over the Christmas holiday, i saw an excellent documentary called Pearl Jam Twenty by Cameron Crowe, which describes the rise and rise of Pearl Jam. The band was formed from the ashes of the seminal grunge band Mother Love Bone after their sadly gifted frontman, Andrew Wood, died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Andy’s story and the film touch on Kurt Cobain’s suicide which brought back this Blast from my past.
Mother Love Bone – Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns
In 2005 i saw a different movie. The film, Last Days, was made by indie director Gus Van Sant and is loosely based on Kurt Cobain’s final days before his death. i attended the last showing one Friday night after my company’s cocktail party and passed out while i watched it. i was brought back (one shoe missing, sprawled out with my legs slung over the backs of the seats in the row in front of me) by three burly staff members during the end credits. They asked me to leave, i found my shoe, put it on and walked away.
i walked away again early January 2011, when i walked into my first AA meeting.
i’m the one who walked away. Many artists i admire tripped, then fell and were left behind but i, i walked away. While my voice may not be as loud or as powerful or as pure as some of those who have passed before me, it is mine and it is still here so it falls on me to say what they cannot. And i tell you, “Walk away. Just walk away and don’t look back. Walk away now, while you can still walk.”