By Ti Mahoney Blair
11:11 is the time to make wishes, so when 11:11 comes, wishes she makes. Twice a day if she’s lucky. But only if she catches it by accident. If you stare and watch the clock turn, it doesn’t count. Old OCD number associations die hard and this is just one that stayed. Trying hard not to wish for herself but for those she loves or hates. Never a bad wish. A wish for forgiveness, transformation, love, understanding or health. On 11/11, even better to catch Wish Time. Do the wishes double? Or does some cosmic explosion happen, setting off a time lapsed practical joke? One push and the wheel sets in motion.
I can’t even begin to count how many times I “wished” to be sober. As if it was something magical that might “happen” to me, instead of an action I could responsibly take. I remember driving to the gym on 11/11/08. I was waiting for it to turn to 11:11am (rule breaker). For some reason I can’t recall, my boss had let me go early. So I considered this an 11/11 Wish Holiday. As the digital clock in my dashboard struck the magical minute I screamed at the top of my lungs, “GOD? I WISH TO BE SOBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR.”
I was clutching the steering wheel and filling the air in my car with a voice I hadn’t heard in so long. Maybe never. Said with Conviction of course. Conviction. It was freshly rained in the world around me. The buildings looked clean. Purified. Puffy white clouds seemed to be hanging out in the sunlight to dry themselves and chat about the weather.
I don’t remember if I drank that night. But I am 99.9% sure that I did. I drank nearly every night. Each morning I would wake up, slightly hungover, gather myself together, shake off the disgust and show up for work. No matter what. I worked my butt off. I am a hard worker and a good girl. Honest. I put shopping carts away and quarters in hungry meters. Yet I have…secrets. Dead rats that lay in the background of all sunny days. Ghosts that demand to be seen and heard. Busying myself with work and a job well done keeps my mind occupied and earns me praise. I have done something right. But I can’t let it in. If they only knew.
And then, after leaving work the mood shifts. Where do I buy my wine tonight? Do I get a “good” bottle? (Meaning, more than $5.00.) Or do I get some Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s? Yeah, it had gotten that low. Like drinking sour dish water from last night’s dinner party. I talked myself into buying the cheapest wine possible so I could save money. Plus, it wasn’t like I drank it for the taste. So why bother? Or was it because I didn’t value myself enough to buy something I actually enjoyed. Did I ever enjoy it? I doubt it. Self medication only feels good the first few times, then it transforms into something loathsome that must be done just to reach zero again.
It went on like this every day, every night. Wake up, go to work, go home, get drunk, pass out. Wake up, feel guilty, numb it out with work and exercise and enjoy it all over again. I had shaved down the possibility of getting into trouble by now. No going out. No leaving the house. No drunk dialing or emailing. Just work out to the point of exhaustion at the gym, then go home, lock door, drink wine and blot it all out. Hanging out in the Dungeon, chillin’ with my imaginary friends.
On the outside, I do have friends, at least the ones I haven’t left in the dust yet. I’m a runner. Run for your life! A life of boxes and new addresses. I wear a mask of Pollyanna, open doors for strangers, volunteer, make people laugh and eat healthy. Yet nobody knows me like my secret selves. We drink our same wine. We eat our safe food. We wait for the night to be over and watch the days as they whiz by. Lifeless. Sometimes when there is a sliver of light, we dance alone in the night. Fantasizing about being somebody else. Make a wish.
After glass one I would crave a smoke. Like drinking the shittiest wine I could find, I also bought the most disgusting tasting cigarettes. I guess they are all sickening, but these tasted specifically like dirty socks. My logic was that the worse they tasted, the less I would smoke. Sitting on my balcony, I would wait until dark and blend in to the shadows. I watched below as neighbors would come and go, having lives. Hiding, I stayed completely silent. Nobody’s home.
By glass two or three I would usually go out to suck another dirty sock. I talked to God out there. Please God, I wish to be sober. I talked to the trees. Marveled at the moon. I huddled up in a slicker and let it rain on me, or sat half naked in the hundred degree summer nights. It was my time. Although warped, this was my sweet spot. For a brief moment or two, I would feel what I suspected was happiness, somewhere far off in the distance. But then as the wine I drank way too fast would settle into my being, off the cliff I go. Nobody’s home. Jump.
Sometimes I would wake up on the couch or carpet with the TV blaring and all the lights on. Once I awoke on the kitchen linoleum floor. It was 3am and there was a frozen dinner, cooked and self-frozen again, shellacked in the microwave. Hmmm. I guess I never made it to dinner. My plump tabby faithfully cuddled next to me. She looked at me as if to say, “Mommy? Are you okay? Can we go to bed now?” I wanted to believe she was oblivious. But what a fool. She knew more secrets about me than I did.
Once, I awoke and found someone had come and kicked in my screen door to the balcony. Those bastards! The entire screen, which looked like the Hulk had crumbled it in his hand, was laying sideways, dead along the balcony railing like a strangled victim. These types of discoveries were such a normal part of life that I just shrugged and figured I would deal with it later. The massive bruises and scrapes on my person told me I was that person who flung through the screen. Probably on my way to suck on socks. Oops. I left a message for the manager. Telling him that somehow the heavy winds must have blown my screen straight out of it’s frame. More like a tornado, she spins.
So imagine my “surprise” when I awoke one morning to find I was not at home. BANG BANG BANG. Someone was making a terrible noise. What IS that? And can you please stop? I hear a TV blaring and wonder if I am at home after all. But the floor is cold. What on earth? I’m being moved from the “drunk tank” into a holding cell. They are banging on the walls to wake me up. I blink feverishly, confused. Is this a dream? Where’s kitty? Buuuuuzzzzzzzzzzzz goes the metal door.
I realize with sickening irony and a dash of curious enlightenment that I am in jail. Yet again. My head feels like it’s been in the dryer with old shoes. Thump. Thump. Thump. I stare up at the fluorescent lights that are stabbing my eyes.I smile at the ceiling.
Hello, God. Is this what it took to make my wish come true?
The Cockroach™, Copyright 2018
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