Friday, December 27, 2013

Day two thousand one hundred and ninety two . . . Divided by six.

If you ask me I'm trying to live a simple life.

And while in essence I have kind of held the really complicated and attention-intensive things at arms length--kids, pets, and a 9 to 5 job--I find that my life seems more complex as ever.

But I often forget what used to be.

Six years ago today my life had imploded upon itself.

Six years ago today I had spent the night in the county lockup.

Six years ago today I was led from my cell--with ankle chains on my ankles and hand cuffs on my hands like I was some kind of murderer--up an elevator, out the door, and down the street to the courthouse for my arraignment.

Six years ago today I pled not guilty to drunken driving, second offense.

But, of course, I was guilty as anybody ever had been.

That morning around nine o'clock I was released to my two friends, Steve and Paul, who had come to claim me. I was told if they hadn't been there I would have probably not been let go so easily. Steve had called my aunt, Lynda, and told her what was up. She was at home recovering from some awful surgery but took the news like a champ and said had half-expected it.

I was having a very messy year after my mom passed away that January. I was in quite a tub of hot water from ruining a show in Boston that I showed up for with a head full of pilfered Klonopin and a belly full of beer. I had been fired from my job at Servicenet and the chorus was on high alert after some shenanigans involving a broken rib that summer after I fell off my bike riding in traffic downtown.

How I made it through 2007 alive I will never fully comprehend. I tried and tried that year to carelessly end it all yet somehow woke to the blinding light every morning. And each awful day after the next I tried to bring sleep quicker and quicker, deeper and deeper.

Until two days after Christmas when the cops took this nice picture of me.



Cute, eh?

I spent the rest of the day that December 27th letting Steve clear my house of any and all substances--legal and non. I gave him the keys to my car and agreed to let him and his wife use it until I could figure out what was what. He and I and Paul had gone to lunch at a local diner and put it all on the table. I had come to my breaking point. And they were right at the edge with me. It was clear as day what had to happen: either I change what I was doing or I lose it all--family, friends, band and career.

And somehow it worked.

No matter the fact that it came from a run in with the law the simple truth is that that was the day that I let my life start again.

I could almost feel my legs creaking as they learned how to walk past the liquor store.

I could certainly feel my lungs getting stronger from the cessation from weed.

And I began to wake up every morning wondering what discovery I was going to make in the simplest of things in the most familiar of places.

And, of course, I started to write down these discoveries in this very journal beginning on New Year's Day of 2008. You can read that post here.

That first post begins, "It is New Year's Day 2008. No one can touch me. Not today."

And that's how I felt. I really and truly felt like I was unreachable by the actions of others. I felt like nobody on the other side of my own two eyes could affect me. I felt like the barrier between me and the world was so great that if only for that one 24 hour period I was limitless in my autonomy.

Because I had slayed the devil at my doorstep.

I had made the executive decision that I was not going to allow alcohol to run my life.

And for a guy who was always quite good at not making firm decisions this one felt like the start of something big.

For nine months my aunt was able to witness my transformation. It was one of her greatest goals in life to see me do this and do it for me. And while I did have an unfortunate and very public misstep with prescription medication shortly after she died that September I never did pick up a bottle of alcohol.

And that all led me to today where I sit on the music room sofa in my house with my girlfriend downstairs (and a text from her parents congratulating me on my phone) getting ready to go to a casino to see Prince. We'll do a little bit of gambling--but not too much--and they'll certainly be taking drink orders. And it's only because I'm writing about this right now that even for a second would I suggest there was any danger in being there. Because I almost never think about the old me who would have been eying the waitresses for more vodka tonics. While I'm sure the men in the security booths would be eying me to make sure they don't end up with a drunk driving lawsuit on their hands.

Who knows if I'll win anything. While I've been lucky in life so far I'm not so good at the tables. Gambling makes me a little bit queasy to begin with, what with all the noise from the machines and the smoke wafting in the air.

I may lose a few bucks on the slots.

I may fork over even more on the blackjack tables.

I might try my hand on the roulette wheel and I may even play a game of craps.

But I'll wake up tomorrow morning with a clear head and a healthy mind knowing that every risk I take tonight will be nothing compared to what could have been lost along the way.

Thanks for reading,

~FAJ




3 comments:

Kyle Cohen said...

This continues to be a wonderful blog. Have you ever considered putting it out there in print? I think it would be very inspirational for those in recovery as well as for those of us who, through the grace of a higher power, never have to deal with addiction issues.

Alex, I am so very proud of the man you have become over the past six years. You were always talented. Now that talent really shines.

Keep coming back. xoxok

Racy said...

There it is. Congrats, Fredzo...

F. Alex Johnson said...

Thanks, guys.

Kyle, that means a lot to me. I do appreciate that you've not only been a friend for so many years but still care to read what I have to say.

I worked with an editor a while back and got the first year's worth of posts edited to eventually publish. When I can find some time away from the chorus and my new band I will definitely be seeing what there is to see as far as publication. For now it'll just have to be scattered on the web for all.

Cheers,

~FAJ