New York City
I have not had a drop of alcohol in ten days. Early in the morning on September 30th, I stood at the bar of The Dive strip club or a place that AlCantHang aptly called Hell, and polished off a beer. That was the last bit of damage I subjected my liver, kidneys, and wallet through. My bender was complete and it was time to heal and repair my body, mind, and soul before I rested before for my last overseas adventure of 2007.
I used to have a two drink minimum back in my broke and starving artist days. If someone bought me drinks, I knocked back a third or fourth, but I would only drink two max because that's all I could afford. Chicks can get away with surviving a night in NYC on $20, but that is a difficult task for a guy. $20 included subway fare and paid for two drinks. It was a struggle if we happened to go out to a nice joint. Dating during my broke days was nearly impossible.
When I discovered a bar that was open at 9am in the Village, I hung out there a lot. They had good eye-opener specials and just $20 would get me through lunch time. If I couldn't shake my inner demons, I'd drink a little more and not have enough money for lunch. If I had a few bucks, I'd get a slice of pizza from around the corner. Sometimes Briana would show up around noon and I'd be able to drink for free for a couple of hours as she continuously talked about her personal dramas. Since I had been drinking alone for three hours before, I didn't mind the banter. After all, she'd pick up the tab and insist that I order some food.
"How can the best writer in New York City write anything on an empty stomach?" she'd often say in a very proper finishing school accent much like Juliane Moore's portrayal of Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.
"You're sitting in a bar during the day hiding from your friends," she'd say as she sipped a Bellini. "And I'm sitting here because I have no friends."
She was a modern day Edie Sedgwick. Minus the heroin. I let her go on her own way and I went on mine. She was a lost soul before we met and even more confused afterwards. We were a poorly thrown together Bukowski poem. We acted like characters from a sullen Raymond Carver short story. The air of desperation in a Tennessee Williams play surrounded us. Her sadness still haunts me like a wispy apparition and has followed me every where.
I don't drink in bars at 10am anymore. If I'm in NYC these days, I'm usually at the tail end of a writing session. And the sad thing is I could afford to be an alcoholic these days but I lost my psychotic-edge which has morphed into ordinary restlessness. I find myself in more manic phases than depressive phases. I hope it's not all going to explode one day and I'm back to hiding out in old man bars in Manhattan attempting the NY Times cross word puzzles in pen. Then again, I'd prefer the cloudy coffeeshops of Amsterdam.
Key West was different. I was on vacation and smoking up a storm during the daylight hours and mixing beer and liquor and knocking back those delicious rum drinks with hip and happy names like Jamaican Me Crazy and Key West Lemonade. It was so firggin' hot that you wanted an ice cold beer to cool off or a tasty cocktail to sit down and relax with.
The detox has been remarkable and my brain cells are slowing regenerating (although the rest of them are being sucked out the other end of the bong). I got the best night of sleep in since Amsterdam in August. I popped a sleeping pill and 1/4 of a muscle relaxer. I slept for seven straight hours which is about twice the norm. Imagaine if you get 8 hours of sleep and managed to get 16! That's what happened to me. I woke up at 7:45am feeling great. It was raining but I went jogging anyway. That's when I had flashbacks of those early morning drinking sessions.