The end of the season is sloppy, everything dead, on its side or overgrown. It is the in between, one season squeezed out by another, neither in their rightful place. I’ve pulled out the foxglove stalks and laid them on their beds, cut back the shrubs, turned the compost. A time to turn inward, after two years of that.
All these kids by the middle school waiting for their parents to pick them up. They’re all on their phones looking stern, like grown-ups. The phones are so big and the kids so small, they’re in between too. Their legs hardly fill their shorts and the masks cover most of their faces. These are the avenues no one sees, times like this spent waiting. Waiting for a ride, waiting to grow up. Me in my car and them in the parking lot, all of us heads down.
It’s a strange form of celebration, to celebrate a year of being sober. You have to rewire the way you think about celebrating because there are no crystal flutes, it’s more of a hollow clap. I only had the triggers hit me once, back when it appeared the pandemic would end this year and I could go back to the Austrian Alps. There was no way I could do that and not drink, in the Austrian Alps! And if that was true, why wouldn’t I start now? But I couldn’t and it depressed me.
I knew I needed to quit for good so I tapered back last September. I kept a bottle in the garage and took a dram every night until it was gone. And the last bottle of wine, in the euphoria of that, how I thought we should just have that once a week, on Saturdays. That’s how I’d do it. I’d quit except for on Saturdays and limit my drinking to a bottle of wine once a week. That way I wouldn’t be forcing Dawn to stop. How noble of me!
But of course that doesn’t work. If a weed could talk or have a mind of its own, that’s what the weed would do. When you try to pull it out it would cling to whatever patch of earth it could and then grow back when you’re not looking.
I’m sitting here with this song playing waiting for Charlotte, thinking I need to use this in a blog post. The way it feels with the music, all these kids in the parking lot on this beautiful day. “Dead Souls.” You hide the thing you want to say inside something else.
I miss the moment when we decided to open a second bottle of wine, knowing it was wrong but not caring. I even miss the feeling the next day, because it reminded me of the night before. And the wash of fire from the first swallow of something strong. Let’s face it, for the addict it’s as sublime as when the needle leaves your arm, as instant the euphoria. And a way you can feel joy again and again. Until that joy reveals its true face, and takes yours as its own.
I never knew what the song was about, Dead Souls. Implies a passageway, or stunted growth. Some inability to move on. I’ve had that problem myself where I linger over things, I hover like a ghost. I wonder what I’m waiting for now.