The dull throbbing of last night’s drinks created a barricade in which no positive thoughts could penetrate. I lie in my bed, ashamed of myself that I gave in temptation once again to run from her. She stares at me in my mind’s eye and pleads with me to-
I do my now daily check of turning my head slowly from left to right, confirming that the headache is almost debilitating. I crave release from this pain, but I know that I must at least get out of bed for the drugs I need to create another pointless day. My mouth is wet and the nausea that I feel isn’t a choice to me, so I quickly make my way to my washroom down the hall to liberate my stomach of craft beer and cheap liquor.
The face that looks back at me in the mirror; these bloodshot eyes and pale skin is not me. If I am to reinvent myself, I must change my habits. I must be better. I must be better.
I need Gatorade. Cool Blue Gatorade. My hang over elixir calls to me telepathically and I return to my room to get dressed and pull on my sneakers, grabbing my keys from my desk, my mom apparently not aware to my departure. My Caravan purrs to life in the driveway but the usually calming sound only adds unease to my stomach and I pull away without letting her warm up. Just get there. John’s Independent Grocer greets me warmly with its red face and I manage a smile back.
I walk along the aisles until I find the juices and energy drink section (I guess they avoid the moniker of “hangover elixir” for legal reasons). The comforting blue harmony of the drinks seems to glow like a neon bar sign, holding my attention. I take one and walk to the TV dinner section, grabbing my turkey pie nightly staple. The puff pastry, white gravy and tender turkey beckons to me. The cashier woman is insufferable, early fifties with thinning white hair, dark circles under her eyes and makeup that looks like it was applied with a shovel. I try and try to understand her motivation for such a lack in manners and general disdain for the population of John’s flock that gather daily but the promise of clarity from my little blue friend is too much to ignore and I realize that her misery does not concern me anymore.
Across from the grocer is the liquor store. My haven. My own personal assistant that removes struggles and hardships quickly and effectively. As always, I can’t decide which one. They all look intriguing and they all will guarantee my entry into the promised land, all with varying degrees of speed. “Beer is a great start,” my mind quickly thinks, and I agree. I walk to the end of the store and stare at their options. Fears and doubts hope and freedom; the dichotomy echoes their voices from within. I wrestle with these thoughts; It must look strange to other patrons who walking around the store seeing a man stare blankly at beer. Or maybe that’s something they’re accustomed to because they’re guilty of the same thing. My eyes fall on my favourite treat, “La Fin Du Monde” from Unibroue Brewery. Holding the heavy bottle in my hands, I know it’s the last drink I will ever have.
I pay for it through a cheerful and probably inebriated cashier. She asks what my plans are for tonight on New Year’s Eve. Oh god. It just sinks in deeply that not only do I chose to have a final drink today, I choose the most clichéd day of the year in which to do it. I am a walking resolution goal.
In my Caravan, I rip apart the plastic covering on top of the Gatorade bottle. It’s sweet, fruity liquid filling my stomach and acts as an immediate negotiator to the nausea and remaining booze in my stomach that had taken my body hostage. I drive the short distance back to my home, thinking all the while what I am going to do for New Year’s Eve. My mom is awake now and greets me happily, machine gunning through requests, demands and questions faster than my still waking mind can handle. “Jackson, I am going to Morgan’s place to pick up Jayce and we can hang out with him before we go see the movie tonight!” she exclaims.
“Which movie?” I grumble. “The Greatest Showman”, she replies happily. I offer some unconvincing words of approval and she leaves. I decide to take a much-needed shower and change into clothes that would be suitable for night out to the movies.
My mom arrived with Jayce about an hour later. “Uncle Jack!” I hear him shout at me through my window which opened to a view of our cul-de-sac. “Hey buddy, how’re you?” I ask, struggling to maintain a positive tone. We begin playing video games in my room that lasted for several hours, I am grateful that time passed by so quickly. Not because I didn’t enjoy spending time with my nephew, but rather because I feel I need time to reconcile my unhappiness with her. I’m not going to call her, but I want to remove this feeling that I have always-
“It’s time for a drink” I think enthusiastically. My mom continues to ask me daily if I’ve had anything to drink, probably because of my previous bouts of depression that I continually lost. I decide to uncork the bottle in my bathroom and drink there, away from any prying eyes. The smooth, yet alcohol laden beverage coats my throat and immediately numbs the anxiety and boredom that I always feel. I walk back to my bedroom and see my nephew sitting there playing video games. Tears begin to well up in my eyes. I reach this sudden epiphany I wish I had a happier outlook on life. I wish that my bitter temperament left me, and I had a simple and happy optimism that my nephew radiated. His short brown hair, green eyes and big smile always leaves me with one too. I left my bedroom and dashed to my bathroom. I downed the rest of the bottle and stood staring at my reflection once more. “It’s over Jack, you can begin your life anew” I let this thought wash over me and my God, it felt wonderful. My bitterness towards my ex-girlfriend had held me in a mental purgatory for too long now. “The history that I had experienced with her was merely a learning lesson for something greater” I thought and now I can let that go.
I returned to my bedroom after thirty minutes. “Where did you go, Uncle Jack?” Jayce asked cheerfully. “Just the bathroom buddy” I replied with a smile on my face. “Number One or Number Two?” he asked laughing. I laughed with him and said I thought he was hilarious. We played a game together and I was lost in this, grateful for this happy memory.
“What happens when you go back to the bottle again?” I thought to myself. I never really had much follow through when it came to resolutions and this thought scared the hell out of me. To be honest, I don’t know what the future holds or if I’ll go back to drinking. What I do know is that I haven’t had a drink in an hour and I need to just focus on staying healthy hour by hour, day by day.
I heard a knock on my door. “Are you boys ready to go see a movie?” my mom asked excitedly, long blonde hair under a black toque and smiling brightly. “Yeah!” Jayce and I replied almost in unison. “Ok, get everything you need, and we’ll go” she replied. “Ok buddy, grab your things and we’re going to go see The Greatest Showman” I told him. Jayce seems excited as he gathers his things. He leaves my room and I follow him, turning to close my door.