International Day of Drinking

Wound up meeting with my ex girlfriend this morning. It was a pretty cathartic and awakening experience. We didn’t end on the greatest terms. She had cheated on me a couple times and had a pretty severe alcohol addiction. A few months after we split up she ended up getting sober and began a long, harrowing path to better mental and physical health. I really applaud her and her ability to make this journey. She has a lot of the similar depression and anxiety that I do and also turns into the consummate charmer after having a few drinks. The thing I really loved about our relationship was the mirror-effect and immediate empathy that we had for each other. Unfortunately that works both ways with the good stuff and the bad stuff. So good times were some of the highest, and lows hurt really fucking bad.

Our relationship only lasted for a few months over winter, however it was really intense. We briefly discussed the intensity in person, but really got into it later over text. We both have had this effect on people we’ve dated where our partners fall super hard for us. But it’s pretty rare that it goes both ways. In my experience, this has happened literally every time: me and my partner fall beyond head over heels to a point it couldn’t go deeper and then it’s a slow fade after. The one trait that all of my ex’s share is this incredibly deep love that we fall into. Like marriage talks, moving in together talks, endless abiding, you name it. It happens every. Fucking. Time. This makes me really apprehensive to meet anyone new. How can I ever know when this shit is real?

One immediate answer is to eliminate things that could fog my brain. Which brings me to the topic of the day:

Drinking on St. Patrick’s day

My dad died on St. Patrick’s day 21 years ago today. I was living with him when came home from a grueling double-shift with a hangover and heard his alarm going off. He wasn’t sleeping in his normal chair in the living room, but was in bed. It was evening-time and I thought he had to work, but saw down the hall him on his bed — an extremely rare sight. In fact, I don’t think I ever once saw him sleeping on his bed. I approach his body and when I go to shake him, it felt different. Somewhat stiff like trying to shake a bookshelf. I immediately assume that he’s likely dead and attempt to take his pulse on his neck. That felt a lot different too. Like skin moving over everything else in a free way that wasn’t normal. No pulse so I ran to the phone and called 911. Had to say out loud, “My dad is dead,” then go on to explain that I had recently been CPR trained and took his pulse and confirmed it. The operator asked that I perform CPR and I declined. I told her the state of rigor mortis that had already set in and she asked me a few more times, pleading that I attempt to give CPR. Finally she lets me know that police have been dispatched and asks me to stay on the line. She briefly talks to me about how my dad could have died and I told her about his medical history of two heart attacks just 8 years earlier in his sleep, his history of hypertension, the gamut of failing heart maladies from semi-hard lifestyles and poor choices like smoking and eating whatever the fuck whenever.

The first officer shows up and asks me to guide him to my dad, so I walk him in and show him. At that point I’m pretty overcome with emotion and get back outside. A second officer pulls up and it happens to be the resource officer that followed me from elementary school in DARE, to junior high, then high school. This person knew me personally. I was only out of school for less than 4 months. The first officer comes out and motions to the second officer who begins to detain me. Completely autonomously being taken through an arrest procedure while the reality of my dad dying is just sinking in. He was heartless while jostling my body around to restrain my limbs then sit me on the curb. He calls for backup and confirms that I’m detained. I have to sit there for a considerable amount of time, weeping while the officers waited for the coroner to show up.

After the coroner and the officers exchange quips about how shitty their workday is while I sit handcuffed on the curb. He goes in for a few minutes, comes out, then taps me with his foot, “where’s your dad’s heart medicine?” I tell him where to find it in the kitchen and he goes back in. He comes out, pulls out his brick of a cell phone and calls my dad’s doctor listed on the bottle. After he confirms the prescriptions and my dad’s condition, he signals to the cops to let me up. I finally get out of handcuffs after being pulled up by my armpit. They won’t let me in the house though to get the phone and call my brother, mom, friends, fuck just reaching out to someone.

Luckily, a friend knew that I was getting off work around that time and he just showed up to hang out. He saw me and I finally got to use his cell phone to call people. I remember making a slew of calls to a ton of different people, but can’t really remember much of the conversations. It all begins to blur after that. But I’ll never forget the indignation I felt for how I was treated by the cops after going through such a traumatic event. It was wholly unnecessary. This wasn’t my first completely negative experience with cops as a young punk in a small town, so I chalked it up as par for the course: these are fucking cops.

Later that night, I’m surrounded by friends (luckily) and then the pressure to drink comes on. Gotta get through this somehow and social cues tell us to introduce alcohol so we can more easily discuss these topics that make us uncomfortable, like death and dying. Having had the undignifying experience earlier, I realized that I need to approach this head on. Need to be clear. Need to feel everything without numbing. I didn’t drink that St. Patrick’s day.

Since then, I’ve largely kept to not drinking today. There’s been a couple years where I did a few, but still never got white-guy-wasted. It was a way that I could prove to myself that I do have discipline and self-restraint. It also allows me to feel and relive my dad’s death in a healthy, processing way. It’s not a blighted holiday, but a day of remembrance. To reward myself, because I do enjoy beer, I would have one of my dad’s favorite beers, Grolsch after midnight. The last few years have made this harder to find so I’ll get something like Stella or Heineken — you know, any skunky lager in a green bottle. That shit was my dad’s favorite and it also happens to be one of mine making this a nice treat. I have just one or two then go to bed.

Fucking processing through shit is a bitch, right?