Better and Better

A friend told me about eating out with her “sarcastic” friend—we all have one—when the two of them saw a toddler, bundled up in winter layers, bounce off a closed glass door and fall because the child had not perceived the door.

The sarcastic friend said, sotto voce, “Get used to that, kid.”

Life is a clear, freshly cleaned, plate glass door that I haven’t noticed is a door, even with a shiny metal door handle at every-door-you’ve-ever-seen’s-door-handle-height on it, because I have been too busy thinking about life (or “thinking” “about” “life”) until I bonk into it. Loudly.

When are we too young to learn that? or too old to be reminded?
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Meeting Myself

The child has few memories, so those he has are detailed.

We were in my hometown for some reason one summer Sunday afternoon a couple years ago and I said to my girlfriend that I wanted to show her where I grew up. (As if I have grown up.) We drove down roads I used to bike on, walk on.

I grew up in the suburbs, in upstate New York, in the 1970s and ’80s, a neighborhood without sidewalks, where kids biked across their neighbors’ lawns (well, I did) without fear of criticism. I remember that I knew which houses had dogs that were poorly restrained (so I could avoid those lawns or else find a new speed in my pumping little legs) and which houses were simply scary for reasons no one could explain but everyone knew which houses simply seemed scary.

(Years later, in high school, I was fundraising or campaigning for something and I dared, out of my OCD-ish sense/need to knock on every single door in the neighborhood, I knocked on the door of one of the houses that I always thought was scary. The owner was as friendly and nice as could be. I felt like I had discovered something.)
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Just Drive

If the photo above is not of the actual car that my family owned in 1979, it is the same model Chevy Malibu station wagon that my memory has chosen to remember as the actual car that my parents drove to cart my sister and ten-year-old me around that summer and every other summer, before 1979 and after.

(My memory is not what it used to be: It is better!)

Our family road trips over about two decades included vacations in Vermont (to see family), weekends on Cape Cod and in Pennsylvania Dutch country and along the Connecticut shore. We were not a wealthy family, so our family vacations were always road trips to a destination that we could reach in one day or less of driving. My father was the only driver, so this was more than fair. The long(ish) car ride was simultaneously unendurable and somehow, maybe sometimes, the only part of the trip that was worth remembering.
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Step by Step

Six years today …

* * * *
Every alcoholic in recovery has a collection of anecdotes that can be simultaneously heartbreaking, outrageous, and hilarious. Perhaps they are hilarious only to fellow alcoholics; perhaps they can not even be listened to by outsiders. For an outsider, most alcoholic anecdotes may as well conclude with the same dark punchline, an interchangeable rubber-stamped ending: “And then I got away with it again.” Or, “I didn’t die that time, either.” And then comes the next hair-raising—or eyebrow-raising—tale.

Every alcoholic in recovery is living a story with a weird ending, if they remain in recovery. It is that two-word pair there, “in recovery,” that provides the surprise, the weirdness, a period of life as surprising to behold as some of the antics, the many bizarre actions and activities and inactions and inactivities that were surprising for outsiders to watch unfold in the previous life.
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