The only thing worse than having no license, is having no license in November.
“Anyone going to Stansbury?” I ask the group. No one responds. I’ve asked this question so many times people avoid me like the bubonic plague.
Tonight is cold. Extremely cold. Extremely fucking cold. At this point I’ll take anyone I can get. Junkie, ex junkie, drunk, non drunk, fat, short, tall, transsexual…just give me a fucking ride.
Someone I’ve never met walks out of the building. “Excuse me, sir?” He never makes eye contact. He walks right by me as he might pass a panhandler in the street.
“Anybody…anyone?” I ask in desperation.
It’s cold. Fucking cold.
Even though I’ve bummed a half a pack from him already, Derrick hands me a cigarette.
“I’d give you a ride if I had a car.” He says
“I’d give myself a ride if I had a car.” I say. I light the Cigarette and take a deep drag.
Right now it’s just the four of us. Derrick, Clay, some kid who’s name I don’t know, and myself. Everyone else has left. Left to the comfort of heated sedans, pickups and SUV’s.
Forty minutes earlier, inside the comfort of a heated building, I ask Clay if I can catch a ride back to Stansbury. He tells me his wife might have a friend with her.
“…and if that’s the case…” he says, “…you aint gonna fit.”
I remain optimistic.
Walking out of the building Clay tells me he has bad news. He says there is no room in the car. He says I’ll have to find another ride. He says he’s sorry.
I say fuck.
So, now it’s the four of us. Clay waits for his wife. Derrick waits for his brother. Some kid I don’t know waits for someone I don’t know. I, I wait for my body to stop shivering. It’s so fucking cold.
The only thing worse than having no license in November, is having no license and living in Stansbury.
Earlier in the day…when it was warmer.
Sitting across from her I felt the question coming. Call it my sixth sense. For some reason I have a unique ability to know when someone’s about to ask a question I have no valid answer to.
“Do you have a job right now?” my therapist asks
“You do? What is it?”
“I’m a writer.” I say
“Do you get paid for the things you write?” she asks
“Then it’s not a real job.” On the computer screen behind her is a list of charges. Since my initial payment in August, I have yet to make another.
“Well, I may not get paid…at the moment, but it’s a job.”
“Does anyone read the stuff you write?” she asks
“No” I say
She mentions my outstanding balance. I tell her I coming into some money at the end of the month. I tell her I should be getting a third of my trust fund. I tell her I promise to make a payment as soon as I can.
“Just make sure you make a payment at the end of the month.” She says
“Okay, Thank You.” I say
My Therapist asks if I have my homework assignment. I pull out a folded piece of paper from my coat pocket.
“Are you comfortable reading it?” she asks
“Sure, why not.” I say
In my last therapy session, I talk about my old basketball coach. I talk about my old basketball coach and how I quit halfway through the season because I hated him. I hated him because he would call me names like; pussy, faggot and heartless. If you ask what brought this conversation on, I couldn’t tell you. That’s how things go in therapy. One minute I’m talking about exercise and the next my coach is calling me a worthless piece of shit. All the while the segway between the two remains natural and unnoticed.
My therapist has the shinning I guess.
So last week she tells me to write a letter to my coach. I’m to tell him everything I wanted to say but couldn’t. For this letter I have two editions. The first, and probably the more honest of the two, remained in my pocket. It read;
“ Dear Coach Overcast,
You are a prick and I fucking hate you!
This was everything I wanted to say but couldn’t. Somehow I felt it didn’t carry enough substance to satisfy my therapist.
I read the letter.
I say things like “I should’ve come to you with my concerns instead of quit.” And “ It really hurt me when you would say…” Finally, I came across words like “Thank” and “you” and “Sincerely.”
I was done.
“How do you feel?” she asks
“Better, I feel better.” I wasn’ t just saying it either. I actually did feel better. She makes a suggestion to burn the letter. She says it’s symbolic of putting the past behind me. If that’s all it took, you know, to put the past behind me, I should become an arsonist.
Next we discuss my father, my marriage, and my weight loss. I tell her I finally broke the 250 plateau I hit. “This morning the scale showed 247.” I say.
I tell her I’m up to running 2 miles a day. She writes this on her yellow note pad.
Finally, after an hour, our time is up. Before I can leave she pulls a book from her shelf and hands it to me.
“I want you to read this.” She tells me.
The book is titled “King baby”.
“What the fuck is this?” I ask.
“Just read it, and next week we will discuss it.”
I place the book in my backpack and standup.
“Can I ask one final question?” I ask
“Do I talk to much during group? ‘Cause if I do, I’m sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing?”
“I don’t know.”
“I think you do know.”
“I really don’t.”
“No, I think you do.”
Fuck. I’m busted. I guess I do know.
“I guess I care what people think of me.” I say. “I don’t want to be that guy in group that always talks and doesn’t let anyone else get a word in.”
She asks me if I’m asking the questions to help people, or to impress someone. It sounds like a rhetorical question so I don't respond.
I stand from my chair, thank my therapist and leave the room.
Recovery can be very time consuming.
The clock in the lobby reads 2:05. I have almost an hour until family group.
As I look around for a seat, some kid seated next to his mother is coughing all over chairs and Newsweek magazines. I find the furthest possible chair away from the coughing kid.
I sit down and pick up an old edition of Highlights Magazine. I turn it over to the back and play the “What’s missing game.” On the left is a picture. On the right is the same picture but with certain objects missing. Just as I’m about to make some headway in solving this important mystery, I hear the sound of a cough followed by a whiff of air against my face.
“You gonna read that?” Coughing kid asks
He’s pointing at another issue of Highlights.
I remember in season three of 24, when people were in contact with this deadly virus, they would walk through some kind of sanitation shower. I wish I had that now.
I don’t even speak. I don’t even speak because I’m holding my breath, trying not to inhale this deadly virus that is thrust upon me. I shake my head “no.”
He leans over me and grabs the magazine. I still hold my breath.
He walks back to his chair.
I’m still holding my breath.
I get up and decide to walk outside. From the chair, to the door, to the outside, I hold my breath.
I get outside.
I exhale. Whooossshhhhh
I think about flipping open my phone and making a Doctors appointment. I guess I should’ve talked about being a hypochondriac to my therapist. She’d probably just have me burn a doctor’s note from my mother or something.
…not quite as early in the day but still a little warmer…
Family group gives me anxiety. Everything gives me anxiety, but as of late, family group especially.
“Where’s your support?” my therapist asks
Sitting around a long conference style table are four different couples. Not necessarily romantically involved couples, but pairs. Mother and sons, brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances.
I sit by myself.
Family group gives me anxiety. Probably because I feel like a fucking looser.
We talk about relapse prevention. The facilitator gives us all a piece of paper. We write down triggers. Triggers are what us drug addicts call things that make us want to use. I look around the room. My trigger is not here. My trigger is separated from me. She is in her parent’s basement living rent free with my son. Next, we write A game plan. A game plan we have in case we come across a trigger. People write down things like;
Call your therapist.
Go for a run
Watch a movie.
Take a hot bath.
I write down things like;
Call my therapist
Go for a run
Watch a movie
Take a hot bath
They all seemed like good plans to me.
After 45 minutes, family group was done.
The only thing left for the night was men’s group. I flip open my cell phone and look at the time. My clock tells me still have an hour and a half till then.
Outside Derrick is bumming a cigarette from someone. I walk up and ask Derrick to broker a deal. I ask him, to ask the cigarette lender if he has another smoke. He tells me no. He tells me he feels weird cause he just barely asked for one. He tells me to ask. I tell him no. I tell him I feel weird asking someone who I don’t know. He asks if I want to walk to the gas station with him so he can buy a pack of smokes. I say yes.
After an hour and a half of walking, talking, and smoking cigarettes, Men’s group starts.
Every Mens group, someone has to teach. Tonight is Shane’s turn. He has a video about street drugs. The street drugs mentioned in the video are;
After the video, our facilitator asks us if we’ve ever used any of these drugs. Every hand in the room goes up. We share some of our experiences. I talk about Ecstasy and how it made me feel invincible. Someone mentions crack and how is made sex better. Someone talks about crack and mentions how it made sex impossible.
After an hour and 15 minutes of shared experiences, Men’s group was over.
So now, now I’m standing outside in the cold. All I want is a ride. A ride no ones wants to give. Finally I compromise. I ask Derrick if he will take me to the library. He says he has to ask his ride but thinks it’s possible.
So here I am. At the Tooele city library, warming my hands and writing this out.
May everyone have a safe and sober holiday season.
It’s so fucking cold….