Superstition Condition

[Originally written on 1.15.06]

The second date I had with Jon in the last week was this past Friday, as it happened to be the thirteenth and he was in the mood to go out.  Here would be a good time to note that our relationship is developing nicely – he has called me at least once a week since I spent a few nights with him at the Shore earlier this month, and will send me little notes through e-mail to give me boosts of confidence when I need it, as the hostility and tension seem to be rising around me.  It’s not worth getting into, but there is definitely resentment of the fact I am living here though not a part of the family, yet the only person qualified to make the call of whether or not that’s alright hasn’t complained once.

Getting away from all of that to spend time with Jon reminds me I need to keep looking for a place to live and worry about getting a job after I move.  We are definitely not at the point where living together has even been brought up, as I suspect he is not ready for such a level of commitment yet and that’s fine.  There is plenty of confidence things will progress as they are meant to, and I need to appreciate that we have gotten to this stage.

The ride down to Philly was rather pleasant, mostly due to the fact there was minimal traffic. What, were people too damn paranoid to go out on the 13th, with a full moon and B-movie perfect fog drenching the atmosphere?  Having someone you trust behind the wheel tends to put you at ease though, as does the joint you smoke as the metal machine you’re riding in screams across the highway.

Our destination for the evening was Abilene’s, a club I read was supposed to be having some sort of Friday the 13th dance party.  The venue was quite small and packed with people, but we agreed to attempt to make the most of it.  Well, no one was really dancing and the party aspect was certainly lacking, though the people reminded me of those who attended a certain Jersey club I used to frequent.  Complete with half dressed bodies awkwardly gyrating on stages around a mostly empty dance floor while cretins drooled nearby.

Neither of us were really interested in the scene, so we hit the bar for pints of beer accompanied by shots of whiskey.  Perched on the tall stools, we had a decent view of our surroundings and it reminded me of the early days of our relationship, where we would get shitfaced and talk trash on everyone for kicks.  The intent was never cruel, more like a childish game we engaged in for some cheap laughs at other people’s expense, but we thought it was harmless fun and were rarely serious about the things we said.  Jon would put on a stoic expression and adjust the rings on his fingers while scanning the rubes before nodding to one, reading them as the southern accent got heavier with each shot of whiskey he had.  How he could gather all of this insight just by observing behaviors for a few minutes was part of the charm to the feat, and a showman certainly did not reveal the secrets to one of his greatest skills, even though I know better than to ask.  Will certainly take credit for my part in encouraging him, holding back laughter despite my sides aching and wanting to burst.

A few hours later, we noticed that more and more people were filling the venue, which had been crammed from the beginning due to its small size.  Seeing as how we had consumed quite a few drinks, I suggested we wander somewhere slightly less crowded, if that was even possible in Philly on a Friday night.  The temperature had certainly dropped, though Jon kept me close as we walked South Street and made our way to Tattooed Mom’s.  We were relieved to find only a handful of people inside, which made it possible to actually get a drink from the bar without having to take up residence there.  He bought us another round and then led me upstairs where we proceeded to hog the roller coaster car.  This was something I had wanted to do since he brought me here for my birthday, and there we were, pints of beer in hand with his arm around me, his position slightly awkward to accomadate the extra length of his legs.

Old school punk music swirled into the conversations around us, and though we chatted from time to time about random things, the drinks we continued to consume were having an effect on our words as they became less comprehensible.  He politely excused himself to the bathroom for a moment, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s not gone for more than a minute before these two dudes randomly approach me.  Whatever they were trying to say wasn’t registering, so I just stared at them while watching Jon approach them from behind.  In the sweetest southern drawl he could spill from drunk lips, he politely requested that they ceased harassment of his lady and removed their prescence from sight lest they find themselves in a painful way.  Their faces suddenly turned rather pale as they stammered an apology and nearly tripped over each other while shuffling away.

Moments later this guy comes over to us and asks if there was any trouble, to which Jon replied everything was handled, his composure changing completely as he offered a friendly smile.  The stranger’s name is Chris and he came all the way up from fucking Maryland to check out South Street on account he heard there was some kind of alternative scene there.  He hands us a demo CD and engages in conversation with Jon about his band and other general music stuff.  Seeing him comfortable enough to let his guard down and chat in such a casual manner was rather refreshing, and I could tell that he really was trying to make this whole thing work.

Leaving the boys alone for a moment, I made my own stop in the bathroom and felt compelled to tag the wall AARON + ANGEL = ANARCHY!!! in large Sharpie letters, which now makes two places I have left this mark in Philly.

When I returned they were making last call; Jon and Chris had now been joined by his girlfriend and fellow band mate.  He asks if it would be possible to drive them to their hotel over on 12th, confessing they are pretty wasted and didn’t want to try and navigate a city they were unfamiliar with.  Jon actually smiled and said he’d be more than happy to help them out, and the two were quite grateful for the entire ride.  Showing random acts of kindness towards others is something he has always done, as he spent many years on the streets homeless and struggling for survival, where even the smallest gesture of spare change or a sandwich could keep him from killing himself that day.  They thanked us profusely when we arrived at the hotel, and Chris even tried to give Jon some money for the trouble, but he would have none of that and insisted it was purely a friendly favor.

After ensuring they got into the lobby safely, he drives over to a diner though I express being too tired to eat.  He chuckles while kissing my forehead and stating that he needs coffee so he doesn’t crash on the way home, though he purchases it in several travel cups in order to avoid sitting inside.  That’s the last thing I remember since I passed out shortly after departing Philly, though whether that was due to the alcohol or the fact I tend to fall asleep during long car rides [especially at night] is hard to say.  When I woke up, Jon was carrying me into his bedroom so I figured that superstitions aside, we had made it safely and enjoyed another wonderful evening together.

Totaled Teeth

There are moments in life that stick in the mind for a variety of reasons, perhaps to serve us in the future to prevent making certain choices due to a bad experience.  Often these things come up when sitting with friends and sharing stories, animated voices and gesturing hands assisting in recreating scenes while laughter fills the room.  Being someone who has listen to more tales than I ever thought I would, it seems strange that I have my own assortment of experiences which may not have been pleasant at the time they occurred.  The fact that I have conquered so many obstacles and found strength in myself instead of relying on others is something I am quite proud of, though I am reminded that I also had amazing people who helped me when I was in need.

Four years [and three days] ago I came to terms with the fact that I had a problem with alcohol, which was something I had access to and consumed at a young age.  It was a social crutch to drown out anxiety that often led to making a fool of myself, getting sick, hangovers and making empty promises to have more control.  Aware that there were relatives who also had issues with alcohol abuse, I joked that drinking was in my genes yet mostly did it at home or a local club.  When I was hanging out with Jon, there was not as much pressure to do what everyone else was doing, and he preferred whiskey or moonshine, both of which I accepted when I wanted to.  The point is that for several years I consumed alcohol for a number of reasons; sometimes I got sick and others I had the time of my life.

Moving to Philadelphia in 2006, I was relieved to be on my own yet hit with that realization in a way which was not expected.  Having limited funds, I decided that snacks and packs of beer were a good way to unwind after long days of fighting through traffic to seek out jobs or go to interviews.  Then came the stress of moving after finally feeling as though I had just settled in, followed by that evening with Jon where we parted ways with me knowing he was madly in love with me but had to deal with his own issues before he could seriously pursue a relationship.  During his absence I had a a really traumatic experience that was treated with drinking, room mates that enjoyed and encouraged partying, and generally had a hard time dealing with overwhelming depression.  One night I had a bad time with a bottle of vodka which brought me to realize I had to face reality instead of hiding in an alcohol induced stupor.  That was the plan anyway and it went alright for a couple of weeks until I get the news that Jon was dead.

While it could be easy for me to use that as a scapegoat for any of the substances that were consumed while I grieved, that does not mean I openly talk about it because I recognize that it was addictive behavior.  Over the next few years I continued to drink on a frequent basis but did not have many incidents of being sick and figured that I found the right level of moderation.  After ending a relationship that should have never been, I moved into a house with a friend and wanted to straighten things out so I could support myself.  Eventually I started dating said friend and drinking became a regular activity, though I tried to regulate my intake and often watched the person I loved become highly intoxicated, which did not always go well.  The point is that alcohol was a presence it seemed difficult to ignore, but I still felt as though I was using it and other substances to escape from things I did not want to deal with.

On August 20, 2008, I had been watching the news and they declared the day was ranked among the Top Ten Most Beautiful Days of the Century, which compelled me to get dressed up with the purpose of wandering the city to enjoy just being outside.  It was also to avoid being around people who were going to be drinking a bottle of whiskey, which I was currently avoiding since there had been night where I had too much and got really sick.  Conditions were perfect: blue sky, no humidity, low temperature and a gentle breeze.  A friend of mine was working at a bar on South Street and invited me to come have a drink on her.  The walk from my house was awesome – people populated every sidewalk table outside restaurants.  As soon as I get to the bar my friend gives me a margarita, we talk for a while and make fun of Kinky Quizzo.

Noted here that I saw someone I recognized but decided against engaging in conversation for personal reasons.  At that point a bunch of people who work at one of the local tattoo shops come in, I was in the middle of my second drink and then they are telling me I have to do shots with them.  Since I did not want to mix liquors, I decide that tequila is an acceptable shot despite having never really drank it much before.  Everyone is chatting, laughing, drinking and having a great time.  Three shots and three margaritas later I am really enjoying myself but also ready to go, so I get up from the bar and head into the bathroom.  One of the tattoo artists offers to call me a cab when I return, which was unexpected but appreciated.  In the cab I am completely lucid and recall most of the ride, though do not remember getting out.  Then I am in my house, climb up the stairs and pass out.

Wake up from a bizarre dream I was in the middle of having and then fumble my way to the bathroom.  Something compels me to look in the mirror, and that was when I realized my teeth were broken.  After a moment of being sick in the toilet, I notice my left knee is slightly scraped.  Went back to the mirror to survey the dental damage – there is a corner of the right central incisor missing, the bottom of the left central and lateral incisors is completely gone, nerves aware of being exposed.  There is a tiny bit of blood on my upper lip and a bruise on my cheek under my left eye.  Then I see that my lip ring is gone, and I figured that I fell somewhere, causing the captive ring to hit my teeth.  There is a bead shape chip in one tooth to support the theory, but I am not concerned with how it happened because I was in so much pain.

My friend stopped by later that day with my phone because it had accidentally been left at the bar, and said the people who bought me shots apologized for getting me so drunk.  She mentions checking on me and said I seemed okay, though I was not sure if she had seen me fall.  Having to explain the whole thing to my father was quite awkward because he could not understand what happened and I had a piece of my memory missing. The fact remained that my teeth were broken and I could barely eat, so I made an appointment with a local dentist and began the process of getting them repaired.  Over the next few weeks, I had a root canal, my teeth ground down, temporary teeth that made me feel really self conscious and finally three crowns replaced the damaged ones.  It was quite expensive since I had no insurance and I went through a tremendous amount of pain.

The photo above was taken a few days after the first part of the root canal, because I felt that I needed to be able to smile and laugh about the situation to prevent myself from getting caught up in depression.  Along with the details I have shared, it serves as a reminder of how a situation can get out of hand, even wen one does not have such an intention.  Though I became aware of how dangerous alcohol could be, I continued to drink but imposed restrictions to prevent any further incidents.  Obviously it has been a long struggle, though I can say that I no longer have a desire to consume alcohol.  Hanging out at clubs or bars was never really my thing, and when I am at home I can have one or two drinks and be satisfied.  Do I consider myself recovered?  In a sense yes, because I do not depend on booze to have a good time and generally find those who drink in excess to be highly entertaining.  That is not a role I want to fill, and while I will likely never be completely sober, at least I have control over my intake of substances but do not allow them to rule me.