This is a story
I am not hungover. I wake up and go to the bathroom, but before I urinate, I remove a sticky note from the mirror that reads, “Day 1 Don’t drink today.” When I return to my bedroom, I peel off a second sticky, write, “Day 2 All you have to do today is not drink.” And go back to the bathroom. I momentarily wonder whether today is Day 1 or Day 2 because yesterday I had a hangover so technically the alcohol was still in my body, but I tell myself since I didn’t drink it counts. Besides, this has been my system.
Its 3:30am. Yes, its Day 2.
This is a story
I stand in the work parking lot on Friday evening and think there is no way I’m going to be able to not drink for the next three hours because this is all I have been thinking about since lunch. I decide I’m going to drive to the hospital and check myself into the psychiatric ward because someone that can only think about drinking for five straight hours needs help. But on the drive over I struggle to absorb how this will all play out. I’m not sure the hospital staff will believe I’m not under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and it is exactly because of this absence I am having a mental breakdown.
Four months later
My bedroom has over a hundred sticky notes on the dresser, one of which is a twenty-two. It is somewhere. Somewhere beneath the ones, twos, and fives.
Six months later
I decide to drink after twenty-six days sober and in that sudden, imperfect moment I am higher than I have ever been or can explain, but I know I feel more than I have ever felt that everything is going to be all right.
I wake up beneath a table at Mike Tavern’s with a note taped to my chest explaining that I should wait until eleven o’clock to be let out because that’s when the first shift arrives.
I go write, “Day 1 Don’t drink today.” And go to bed.
This is still a story
I go to bed at 6:30 twelve days in a row because I run out of ways to occupy myself in the evening. I tell myself it will be better in the winter because it will be dark out. I also develop a habit of staring at people, and trying to figure out if I should be doing what they’re doing, since they appear to be happy and they must not be alcoholics.
On Day 30 I thought I would feel different
Day 60 doesn’t feel that much different from Day 30. Or 31 or 45 or 37
This is a boring story
There is no plot twist on Day 61. Or 62, by the way. I purposely avoid plot twists by writing down a schedule. 5:30, make dinner. 6 eat. 6:20 – 6:30 clean dishes. 6:30 to 7 go for walk. 7 to 7:15 shower. 7:15 to 7:30, make lunch for tomorrow. 7:30 to 8:15 read. 8:30, sleep.
Around Day 200 I only need the schedule for weekends.
This is a story
That does not end. There is no epiphany. My dog still pees on the rug and my house is never clean enough and I forget to pay bills. I also waste money on stickie notes and I’m not sure how to attack the dusty, yellow, ever accumulating piles on my dresser.
This is not the end of the story
Today I write, “Day 1287 Don’t drink today” and stick it on the bathroom mirror.
Favorite Drink: Tonic water with ice in the summer, hot chocolate in the winter.
Roger D’Agostin is a writer living in Connecticut. He is six years and one month sober. Previous work of his can be found in New South, JMWW, and Passengers Journal.
image: MM Kaufman