In a little over a week I'll have ten months under my belt (which by the way is getting looser and looser as I am still dropping the pounds).
And, as all things in this world go, the more you do something the better you get at it.
So because I am so frequently surrounded by my desirables, it is subsequently getting easier and easier to not care.
I guess it's kind of like breaking up with someone who you thought you'd eventually marry--someone who is continually going to be traveling in the same circles that you are; someone you loved and someone your friends loved as well, they just always said you were a terrible couple.
But you break up and the first few times you see her from afar--alone--you just for a second forget that you're not with her anymore. You have to stop yourself from calling out her name. She'd respond of course. She didn't get a restraining order on you or anything. You just both decided after the last big blowout that it wasn't worth it anymore and you would only be dragging each other down into a deep, dark, pit of turmoil, despair, selfishness, paranoia, and the eventual untimely unravelling of an otherwise promising life for each other.
In a perfect breakup you'd give back the clothes, books, and records you each individually owned before you met. Then it's time to deal with the unattractive task of deciding who gets what from the things you bought together.
I got the house, the car, the TV and the Star Wars memorabilia, and she took the intangibles: much of my memory, and a portion of my dignity. She also took some of the glue that held many of my simple acquaintances with people in the bar crowd as well as a few people close to me.
I have since regained much of what I lost in the split, I'm happy to say, but I don't have it all back. Some of the memories I'll never see again. Some I'll fabricate like I used to, but it will be because I can and desire to, and not because I have to and have no choice.
But as I said, I see her everywhere. She's practically following me but I know she isn't. I could make it so I didn't have to see her at all by painstakingly arranging my life so as not to put myself at risk of seeing her. Some of my friends are like that. But that's just too much work for a lazy guy like me. I like my freedom. I like to run out the door and not worry if I'm going to run into her at the restaurant or at the club or at a mutual friend's wedding.
I like to feel that I can control myself despite the fact that I don't have much experience.
But like I said, I've been getting really good at not indulging in my vices.
Last night we played a birthday party for a woman named Amy Johnquest. She's an artist extraordinaire who lovingly painted my band's most recent album cover (Drunk Stuntmen's, State Fair).
I got to the vacant shoe store where it was held early to set up. I noticed that there was a table with a few bottles of wine, a few bottles of San Pellegrino (classy), and a gallon jug of water.
As the evening progressed a few dozen partygoers arrived each bringing a sampling of food and drink.
By the end of the first set there was three long tables full of food ... and the table that had started with the wine and water had become overflowing with beer, more wine, and liquor.
But the one jug of water remained alone. It sat there, occasionally being taxed by me and a couple other people. But nobody brings water to a party. That's just something you don't think to grab while you're picking out a nice tall bottle of Gordon's Gin.
And so, the water ran out.
And as I poured the last of the jug into my cup I started to have strange survivalist feelings.
I felt like I used to feel at any given party when I knew I had the last of the Jack Daniel's in my hands. But unlike then, I didn't leave a mercy shot of it at the bottom for the poor soul who should try to quench his thirst after me--I just poured it all in my cup (the water, that is).
A little later I spotted from the corner of my eye, an open gallon of water deep under a table of food behind a couple boxes of wine.
I looked around, grabbed the bottle, poured a cup full, and stashed it back under the table--a little more camouflaged this time.
When we finished our last set I went looking for my hidden bounty.
It was gone.
And I felt that sinking feeling I used to feel when the beer I had stashed behind a gallon of milk in a party house had been found.
And I did last night what I used to do at the party house: I went on a re-con mission.
I checked every bottle of San Pellegrino, I shook every empty gallon jug of Poland Spring, I looked under the table, on the floor, and in the corners of the room.
And I was shit-out-of-luck as they say.
Amy saw me looking around and asked what I needed.
I told her and she winked and said she had a secret stash set aside because she knew this would happen. She knelt down and rooted around under the table and produced a unopened bottle of water. It was like gold. I couldn't believe my eyes. I opened it with much verve and poured each of us a tall glass of it. We toasted and drank--eyes closed--and let out a big "Ahhhhh."
It was good.
And I stood there, looking at all the other bottles--either full or half full--of wine and liquor and beer and I felt not a tinge of longing for their company. They were everywhere and the were inviting me to come along and join them. But I don't really want to associate with them any more than I have to. And that's not to say I'll avoid them ... I just won't call them up to come over and hang out.
Because we ended badly and almost everyone who knows me knows that.
Sometimes people who you barely know really do know what's best for you.
And sometimes even when you know what's best for you and you've accepted your limitations you can't find it in amongst the fray.
But you keep looking.
That is the goal in oh so many ways.
Thanks for reading.
Stuntman Steve, F.A.J. and Soft Rock Scott. (Amy's artwork is visible in background).
The hostess with the twinkies, Amy Johnquest (right), Soft Rock Scott, and yours truly.
Biker Chuck, takin' you to school. Background Ms. Donna and more of Amy's art.
Pictures by Jeffery Byrnes.