My heart was pounding with excitement. I’d been looking forward to this night for weeks. Tonight’s show – sold out. It was a full house. The air was pungent with the thick, rich, acidic aroma of weed. Skunk, if I had to guess. Memories of other times, and places, played longingly in my thoughts.

Most days are easy. This wasn’t one of them.

The hallways were crowded with a flashback from the eighties. Men and women, their faces worn from the passages of time, stood waiting in line for beer. By the looks of the swagger, it wasn’t their first either. I watched, enviously, as they hoarded their quota. Two. It was all you could get nowadays.

Although this wasn’t my first concert sober, I’m not going to lie. There were difficult moments. It’s easy to remember the good times when you’re surrounded by a group of party goers. These were my kind of people. All of them. For a brief moment I wondered what it would be like to place a beer to my lips.

Beer equals fun?


Caught up in the excitement and crowd, I remembered other concerts. They were a big deal for me. They still are. Something happens, when you’re in a stadium filled arena, with people who are bent on having a good time. It’s contagious. If I’m honest, it’s probably dangerous to.

Sometimes, I really hate being a recovering addict. Only for the briefest of moments, of course, like on a hot sunny day looking at an ice filled cooler. Or the awkward moment someone you’ve just met asks, “Would you like a drink?” It never lasts. As the saying goes, this too shall pass.

I made my way through the crowded hallways. Everywhere I looked, people were partying. Was I the only one not holding a beer? As I sat in my chair I identified an old familiar friend. Self pity, and it was out to get me. It was a heavy and suffocating, adversary. I’ve also learned for the most part, it’s a phenomenal waste of energy. It doesn’t make me feel good either. So I give it five minutes and not a second longer. I nursed poor me, as others nursed their beer.

Before I knew it my leg was bouncing to the rhythm of the music. You try poor me when Joe Walsh is knocking your socks off. Pretty soon, the old shit eating grin, was back. I sang along to Life’s been good to me so far. I was halfway through the song, when I realized how profound it really was.

See if you don’t take the drink, and you don’t pick up. You live to figure it out.

Appreciation filled my chest. The longing for a drink, was gone.

I settled back into my chair and sang my heart out. I danced sitting. I bee bobbed, snapping my fingers and wiggling my rear. There was even a lighter or two flickering, in memory of days long gone. I drank it all in, just the way I would have, in the past. The only difference being, I consumed the experience, not the beer. It sure left a better taste in my mouth.

The moments were precious and soon vanished. Bob Segar finished up with a song I’d danced to many times. Rock N Roll never forgets.

Neither do I. Forget that is. I carry my last drunk in my pocket. It’s never far. I think of it often. I never want to forget.

As the lights came on, the fairy tale faded.

A man sitting behind me narrowly missed my head, as the beer he was holding, slipped from his grasp. He was simply too inebriated to hold it any longer. The crowded hallways, once such a magical place, now resembled a bar at last call. People bumped into each other, some were staggering, others helping to hold them up. There were others, who could have a beer and a great time. Although, on this particular night, I’d have to say they were in the minority.

With the lights on, the truth was easy to see.

This is why I’d quit drinking in the first place. Yes, it was all fun games in the beginning, but it never stayed there. For me, it progressed into something far more hideous, pathetic – tragic even. The fun stage wore off years ago.

I learned in treatment – play the tape through to the end. As I look around I see evidence of this. There was going to be some badly, hurting people tomorrow.

Thankfully, I wasn’t one of them.

(c) 2014 Jagged Little Edges All Rights Reserved

1 comment

  1. Kayla

    It’s amazing how quickly those old feelings can come back especially when you are in that sort of surronding. To actually live to figure it out sober and to say at the end you are thankful! Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

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