Driving home from the bookstore proud of my purchases, which included Stephen Dixon's newest, I was thinking about the drinking days. The peak of my best (or worst) drinking was ten years ago just after my first wife left me. I had been a heavy drinker for about three or four years at that point, but it was of the controlled variety, usually consisted of putting down a twelve pack of cheap beer a night, mostly at home, mostly after my wife had gone to bed. When she left, I no longer had that anchor that kept my drunken boat from drifting into rough waters. Now, ten years later, it's interesting to see that my life has not only changed because of the years and maturity that come with them, but also because I'm no longer dependent on something that was keeping me from enjoying life. Just for the hell of it, here's a comparison of the me then vs. the me now:
Then: Beer, usually the cheapest I could find. Sometimes I would warm up with a shot or four of vodka.
Now: Coffee, chased with water. Tonight, I'm indulging in a latte from The Coffee Bean.
Then: I preferred the dirtiest dive bar I could find, usually the ones that had good drink specials such as the $5 beer buffet, which basically meant that you could drink all you wanted of the watered down tap Natural Life between the hours of 10 and midnight.
Now: My desk in my apartment two thousand miles from those dive bars.
Then: Whatever was playing on the bar's jukebox. If I could spare a few quarters, I'd choose some Archers of Loaf, Replacements, Halo Benders, Polvo. Or Tom Waits. You can never go wrong with Tom Waits, who, I believe, has been sober for over a decade.
Now: Johnny Cash on CMT, his concert at San Quentin. Otherwise, it would be iTunes on shuffle or KEXP streaming.
Then: Bartending at the dive bar. I was paid only with the measly tips, usually a bunch of nickels and dimes, and the occasional pill that would make my night if I could figure out what it was and it turned out not to be birth control or Tylenol.
Now: Comfy corporate. Not the ideal job, but pays the rent and buys me books and allows my wife to fund the neighbors who have yard sales.
Then: One night while staying with a girl I had recently met, in her apartment that she had just moved in to, I woke up in the middle of the night, drunk on way too many shots of vodka that the girl had bought for me, and on the way to the bathroom, I tripped over a box. The next thing I know, I awoke to her screaming, "Oh my fucking god what happened" as she stared at me. I realized I couldn't lift my head. Looking down at my t shirt, I noticed the blood. Not just on me but all over the wooden floors in her living room. Apparently, I'd fallen into something, hit the top of my nose, broke it in two, and because of the pain--and the vodka--had passed out. Ended up with two black eyes and the fifth broken nose of my life, and soon enough, the girl would tell me that she wasn't really interested in "that kind" of relationship.
Of course, I miss it. This latte is damn good though.