Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day one thousand four hundred and ten . . . Time for a change.

Man, how I used to cherish this extra hour.

Sixty minutes of sleep--and that's about all it really ever meant to me.


Beautiful, crusty-eyed, dry mouthed, headache-laden sleep.

And then I'd get up and go to work. I'd come home and the daylight would sneak out the door like a party guest who stuffed his pockets with beers as the cops were coming in the back way. It was a dirty trick, but it was the price you paid for that hour you'd already forgotten about.

I can almost picture every time I turned the clocks back, too.

It almost always happened the same way: bleary-eyed and wobbly but excited and a little bit boastful. I really felt like I had just cheated the system. I, F. Alex Johnson, could--once a year--forget about how I had just stayed up until two in the morning with a rocks glass and a rapidly evaporating liter of Smirnoff and wipe that last hour clean. Then I could take the thin, black, metal, hour hand on the kitchen clock that I've looked at since I was a child by its pointy tip with my index finger and--almost like walking backwards through a stadium crowd letting out after realizing something important was left behind--I would slowly run it over an orbit it already completed--making sure not to break or bend it--and then, with a lift in my belly like going over a generous hill in a car as I realized I had just gotten that that sweet hour back for free.

Then I'd just stand there and fold my arms and hiccup.

Funny how times change, pun totally intended.

I went to sleep last night at one o'clock in real time and didn't realize it wasn't what time it was until I saw someone post something about it online.

And this is what I'm doing with my hour: a little writing.

I met up with a very close friend the other day. We both used to spend our daylight saving time similarly as I've just described. We're both sober now and we have our own ways of staying that way.

We got to talking about sobriety a little bit as is what happens sometimes when we get together. He referenced how I may not have gone about my process the most tried and true method as he has but that I did do plenty of work on my own. All the inpatient (court-ordered or not) the outpatient (same) and the weekly counseling; the ongoing journaling that you're reading right now; the witnessing of others in my shoes going through the same scenarios with much the same outcome; and the realization that my life is different now because it's the only way it can keep calling itself, well, life.

I haven't written about sobriety in a while. I'm guessing it's because so much else takes precedence these days. But I can never ever forget that me being this way is the reason why I have so much else to take precedence.

I find it hard sometimes to squirrel away a little piece of time to write about what's going on because the world has lit up so many more "open" signs for me than ever before. And I have to always remember that they were always there in the window right behind the "closed" sign. I just couldn't see them from where I stood.

And this clock that I mentioned--the one from my childhood--it's hanging on the wall in the kitchen. It's hung on the wall in one house or another for probably thirty-five years or more. It's small and battery operated but it works well and it's unobtrusive.

It's how I used to be able to tell when it was getting close to the time when my mom would make me spaghetti and hot dogs when I was just a kid.

It's how I used to be able to tell when she was about to come home from a long day at work.

It's how I used to be able to tell when I had to get out of the house and go to my high school job at the video store.

It's how I used to be able to tell how late I was about to be for school.

It's how my mother used to be able to tell that her son still hadn't come home from God knows where.

It's how I used to be able to tell when the package stores were about to close . . . and also when they were about to open.

And it's how I am able to tell what time it is in the house I share now with my one true love.

It's a simple, unsuspecting clock. But just like any clock you have up for a while, when you move it from one wall to another it takes a very long time to get used to the change. The space it used to live in still has a hold, and it's tough to not look for it even when you know it's not there anymore.

So now I figure is the best time to use that hour I got given as a gift. I didn't unwrap it last night. I just saved it on my bedside until today and put it to use writing these last few hundred words.

They may not be the most inspiring or revelatory but I got such a good deal on them I just couldn't say no.

One free hour. Not bad at all.

And I'm going to try not to fret too much at losing the hour on the end of my day. Night comes no matter who you are or what your doing just like the day. It's all a matter of when you chose to open your eyes and when you close them shut.

Now I think I have an old, nervous kitchen clock that knows what's about to happen. Maybe I'll use the little dial on the back like I'm supposed to.

Aw the hell with it. What's the fun in that?

Thanks for reading,