Listening to the song Dead Souls while waiting at the park and ride

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.

Categories: Memoir, writing


16 replies

  1. More than once I’ve wondered for long stretches what I was waiting for, why I even cared what I was waiting for … and then stumbled into some new phase of my life. Not planned, but in retrospect would’ve been impossible if I hadn’t been through (finished) some other aspect of my life. You could call some of those abandoned aspects addictions. Though the one you are phasing out is tougher, long-term your reward will be greater. I suspect the interim spans of time wondering are therapeutic in ways not readily recognizable. Cheers to you for tackling this, modeling for others coming along similar tracks. Here’s to rewiring how we think about a LOT of things! And celebrating with smiles of accomplishment vs toasting whatever.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a great sentiment Jazz, thanks for reading while you’re on the road. There’s something funny about waiting because it negates the time you’re in, though we do that a lot it seems and we anticipate to help us see beyond where we are now. Like needing to have plans, things to look forward to. I’m there myself, trying to plan a trip to Germany now and parse out these god-awful updates from the Department of State translated from German to English. You have a great perspective and thanks for sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. it’s Petyan in Melbourne -Wildflower season.
    It’s warmer but it’s also tempestuous;
    The Bush Springs to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This last year has been “sobering” in so many ways Bill, which makes it easy to just want to unplug from it all. So I am duly impressed that you managed to commit yourself to taming your addiction and have kept to it. Congratulations. Here’s to finding new rituals and modes of celebrating. With Best Wishes as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah. That waiting thing. Phew. A suite of waiting rooms for every life stage.
    Waiting for a ride, waiting to grow up.
    Waiting for the time you no longer get angry about the things you cannot do.

    Solid, Bill. A meal right there. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Funnily enough, I was sorting and throwing stuff out (as I tend to do when anxiety kicks in) and came across an old book of joy division lyrics with a Greek translation on each facing page. And this one was missing as I’d used some pages in a collage I’d made some 35 years ago. Thanks for your post. There’s a lot to think about in there that resonates. It’s still sinking in. Stay strong or find some less destructive way to give in, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That last line is the best, stay strong or find some less destructive way to give in, that’s precisely it. The lyrics and collage thing, with the Greek translation, make for an interesting image. Heck, I guess this was a bit of a collage too. Here’s to that, making something out of the scraps right? They keep calling me!


      • It’s important to be able to give in and see the view from there, but hard to do without causing collateral damage.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I get it, or at least I think I do…a series of trade-offs it seems. And the right perspective, to your point. Gosh we never get it right, right? Ha ha. All good. Mostly…


  6. Congratulations on achieving a year of sobriety. Breaking out the Pepin cookbook and making something tasty sounds like a great way to celebrate.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As usual, a fab piece of writing. I need to do that, drinking twice a week and thinking last week had alcohol five times. I’m sure this post will motivate me, not that I drink loads.

    Liked by 1 person

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