I drank too much and stopped in 2001, but started again about nine months later. I told my doctor I stopped drinking and when he asked if I was alright I started crying and so he gave me the number of a psychiatrist and patted me on the back, and that was that.
In November they started sending letters with Anthrax to Congress members and I started thinking my mail was tainted too. I had a dream about Bin Laden and a spider on my arm and my arm actually went dead and cold when I woke up. Dawn said she was concerned about my drinking and I said OK, I’ll stop.
My grandfather had a stroke that fall and never got right again (we think, from watching the news coverage of 9/11). Dawn’s friend Kristie was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Our neighbor got into a car accident and went into a coma, and we had a 6.8 earthquake in my office building, built in 1919 on land-fill.
The film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came out and I lost myself in the characters swinging above ground, flying from tree to tree, imagined I could do that too in my state of life in-between, dreaming about falling, imagining what would happen when I hit the ground.
The Strokes made their first album and before it even came out, they sold out at The Crocodile in Seattle, August, 2001. They had to delay the record release because of the song “New York City Cops,” which made fun of the cops (‘they ain’t too smart’), and wasn’t cool, now with 9/11.
It was the first-year anniversary of September 11th, and Dawn and I drove over the Cascades to Eastern Washington, to a cabin my friend owned. It was out in the woods near a lake and he drew a map but I wasn’t sure we were at the right place until I found a rock on the beach that had his initials scratched into it, BWS.
I decided I would start drinking again at the cabin and we went to the local Safeway for some wine. It didn’t taste that good, but there you have it. I got up in the morning before the sun came out while the crickets were still frozen on the porch and sat there drinking coffee, soaking up the peace of the place, the solemn reflection of 9/11, what it all meant for me and the crickets, frozen there on the porch.
When I applied for life insurance, they asked if I ever stopped drinking for a period of time. They were probing for something different but I didn’t get it, so I said yes in fact, I had. When they asked why, I said I was training to climb a big mountain (another bad answer for a life insurance application). And so I failed the urine test and got a higher rate, based on my risk quotient.
We bought our first house in 2003, which was built in 1919 — the same year as my office building, the same year my grandfather was born. The house had a pond out front with a goldfish but the raccoons were hell-bent on getting him, and the fish became a kind of symbol of something pure we needed to protect about the house, but couldn’t.
The neighbors were from Aberdeen and went to school with Kurt Cobain which seemed kind of cool and unbelievable, until we realized the neighbors were just like Kurt Cobain with missing teeth and junkies for friends, which wasn’t really cool when we started having babies and had to think about keeping the house safe.
Years later, I started a blog as a “Look at me, world!” but had to give it up to make time for a writing project. Habits are funny, because you seem to come back around to the bad ones. And they tend to get in the way, the more they become a part of you.