Been going to NA meetings a couple of times a week. After last month. I woke up in my apartment after the blackout, which wasn’t that unusual. But the mud that was dried all over my feet and halfway up my calves was something new. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a smeared muddy trail where I’d apparently done a few circuits around the apartment before dropping, muddy feet and all, into bed.
As to NA, it’s pretty standard stuff. Not as many of the ‘personal stories’ as TV dramas might lead you to believe. Most of the people there have been going for a while and have already told their stories I guess. But there are a few. I can’t help but look around, watching their faces, listening to their stories, these people in varying stages of addiction, and something doesn’t sit right. This is not me. I mean, there are similarities, sure. The blackouts, for one. And I do feel a certain need, almost a void that needs to be filled, at regular intervals (I’m almost positive now that it always seems to happen around the full moon.) But unlike most of these people, I can’t pin point what it is exactly this compulsion is driving me towards. If I drink, if I drug, it’s not a conscious desire or decision.
I don’t look sick and desperate like many of the new-comers. I have never spoken in group because I don’t even really have a story. I had all but decided to quit going. And then…
Last week a new girl came to group
She has a face like a razor blade- all sharp angles and unforgiving edges. There’s a ring through her right nostril. Her blond hair is dull and it’s pulled back in a rat’s nest at the back of her head. She tries to smile but it just looks painful- the smile doesn’t reach her eyes- and the hand holding the cup of convenience store coffee trembles slightly.
Her name is Bridget and pills are her thing.
Uppers and downers. Amphetamines and barbiturates. Benzos, opiates… But never at the same time. It seems important to her that we know that. As if she’s saying, yeah, I may be stupid, but I’m not fucking stupid. And always legal stuff (at least it would be legal if she were scoring them from her doctor and not her hook-ups.) Sometimes, she admits, when she’s desperate, it’s diet pills or over-the-counter sleep aids.
She’s twenty-four but she looks older. She says she used to be vain, but now she can’t even stand to have a mirror in the apartment, and she tells us all of this with the attitude of a reporter writing an article, as if she were merely stating facts, and not relating the personal and sensitive details of her pain.
But one thing she doesn’t say is why. I’m sure she has her own sad story, just like all the rest of us.
And yet, there is something about her that I am drawn to. She’s damaged, like most of the people there…like me maybe. But that’s not it. I’ve never been one of those people who feels the need to fix others, heal their pain in some ineffectual attempt to fill some void in myself.
You can tell she used to be pretty before the drugs took hold of her, but it’s not physical, this draw I feel. She hasn’t been clean that long and she still looks strung out. It’s something I can’t put my finger on. It’s almost like…like a smell.
Anyway, I’ll give this NA thing a couple more weeks…maybe til after the next full moon. I mean, I can’t really say for sure that it’s not working until then anyway, right?
I wake up cold. I lift just my head, which seems to weigh no less than 30 pounds, and realize the reason I am so cold immediately. The air-conditioning unit in the window over the fire escape is on full blast and a frigid draft is blowing directly over my balls. Why am I naked? I usually sleep in boxer shorts at least. I raise up further, onto my elbows to take some of the strain from my massive head off of my neck. Ah…there’s the other reason I’m cold. My blanket is keeping my boxer shorts company in a little rumpled pile on the floor.
The intense heat of the past few days seems to have momentarily passed, along with another 2 days I don’t remember. I am exhausted but content… And then I spot them. A few feet away from the blanket – is that what I think it is? And even as I am getting up and reaching for my shorts, telling myself that the little swatch of black lace isn’t a pair of panties, can’t be a goddam pair of panties, I’m seeing that it is. One side is torn as if they were ripped off of their owner.
Now I suppose I should have my “dude card” revoked, because my first instinct isn’t pleasure or even pride at having scored last night (or the night before?) but immediate anxiety. My stomach flips as I dump the contents of the wastebasket beside my bed. Nope. No used rubber. Not even a fuckin’ wrapper. I duck-walk across the cold floor the tiny bathroom, hoping vainly for some evidence that I hadn’t been completely careless. No such luck. I walk around the rest of the tiny apartment twice, looking for what exactly I’m not sure. Something to tell me who I picked up last night, what we did…besides the obvious. But I wouldn’t have even known she was here if she hadn’t left the panties. No note, no phone number carelessly scrawled on a napkin. Not even any empty booze bottles. Since Christmas, I can count on one hand the drinks I’ve had. At least, that I remember. So why does this keep happening?
I need to get myself tested. God knows where I picked that girl up.
Oh Jesus. This is really beginning to get bad.