In the summer of 2010 I once drank so much four loko that I staple-gunned my boot to my ankle. I must have looked so insane and pathetic in the attic of my much older friend’s house, sitting on the carpet with my legs in a W, laughing and crying a little as I pulled the metal out. I was 20 years old. I had no idea yet how to order a drink in a bar, but it wasn’t the first time I’d gotten drunk and hurt myself.
A few days before I returned from North Carolina, while sexting a photo of my naked butt, I got an unexpected phone call about starting a new “gig,” (what the kids are calling jobs these days). It was a welcome opportunity since as you know I spent the major part of the last month fucking around, drinking cocktails and trying to get rid of my tan lines. But when I was torn from my spot on my childhood trampoline and catapulted into normal working hours back in lower manhattan, it was quite an adjustment. Every morning when my alarm goes off I am convinced there must be some way around it. This usually leads to a very rude awakening, followed by a lot of running through my apartment yelling “SHIT,” a lot of makeup and hair products being shoved into a giant canvas bag, and a lot of primping on the train.
It’s the same way I got ready for high school every morning. I’d guzzle 20 ounces of generously sugared black coffee in the passenger seat of my father’s car at 7 am, sometimes after sneaking out, taking drugs from strangers and only coming home to change my shirt. I’d drag the torn edges of my American Eagle jeans into first period hoping no one would notice I was five minutes late, or that I’d only slept twelve hours that week. In high school I was the girl who was greeted with giggles and whispers of “did you hear?” when I entered a room. My grades were impressive, I brushed my teeth twice a day and took a bath every night. But on any given weekend I’d probably drank half a bottle of watermelon burnette’s and gone skinny dipping in the backyard of a house party with someone’s boyfriend, or girlfriend, or both. I’d probably thrown up in a bush. Cheap liquor will do that to the girl who doesn’t eat. But I was gonna be famous. One day I’d be an Olsen twin.
The summer of 2010, the one after we burned our house down, led to a winter, a spring, a subsequent summer and fall. By then I was great at ordering drinks in bars and guzzling bottles of sailor jerry on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle. I was even better at getting in drunken fights with that boyfriend almost daily. Some nights there were screaming matches in the streets. Other nights he’d carry me into our house over his shoulder after I had one too many shots. By my 22nd birthday I’d finished college, which might actually be the worst thing for a drinking problem. I was older, but I wasn’t an Olsen. I was depressed, directionless, 15 pounds heavier and never leaving the house. Until one day I did, and I ended up in jail. But that’s another story.
After the mandatory alcohol therapy and the somewhat sobering shame of making the front page of The Slammer, I started to get my act together. My unhealthy relationship had ended during a tumultuous Mercury Retrograde. I had a full time job where my coworker was a convicted felon on work release with an unlikely knack for life-coaching. I was spending one Wednesday a month dressing in my mother’s suits and hiding my undercut for court appearances to end up with a clean record. I was texting a funny writer boy in New York. I wanted to take risks, be stronger, do great things with my life and heart. So I started, and eventually I began to rise like a phoenix, I guess, from metaphorical ashes this time.
Since then, I’ve only had a handful of dark drunken moments, most of which I laugh off and write about here. Once I cussed out a room full of innocent friends after drinking an unknown amount of four loko, which, by the way, is no longer my beverage of choice. Twice, maybe three times I’ve blacked out and cried, barefoot on a New York sidewalk. More times than I care to admit, I’ve looked into the wrong person’s eyes for too long.
Two weeks ago I went to sushi with my older brother in Durham, North Carolina. The site of my post-collegiate depression seemed so much cuter outside the haze. I’m sure it was because I’d moved on. I had prospects. I had a job. I’d worked in close proximity to major celebrities when less than two years prior I was watching them on apple TV, alone and hungover with the curtains drawn. He told me over martinis that he’d been reading my blog, and my first thought was fear. Embarrassment. When my brother was my age, he got married and had his first child. I’ve always admired him for that, the way he transformed almost overnight into this professional, responsible man. A daddy. Now 34 years old, he has a third baby on the way.
“Your life isn’t that crazy every night, though, is it?” he asked me. No, not always. And hopefully in the coming years it will be even less so. All of the stories are true; I take club drugs, I wake up too late, I pay for my groceries in quarters, sometimes I forget to eat and I drink too much and I say the wrong thing. I still ask my parents for money every now and then. But I turn 24 soon. I want some of those things to change, and I’m gonna have to figure out how.
Some days you get to work on time. Some days your hair looks perfect and your shirt’s right-side-out. Some days you exercise and some days you’re in love and there’s money in the bank and your shoes are tied and the kitty litter box is clean.
Some days your ambition rules you, your delusions roam freely, driving your life to those high points you are sure it will achieve someday. And some days you’re heartbroken, eating a can of beans in the tub. “But at least,” you think, “I remembered to bathe.”