Nels, Just Awake

open your eyes / here comes a bigger part

You know it’s funny, the weird myths that pop up about us [sober] alcoholics. Like there’s this idea that we’re just on the edge of always craving a drink. That any random little thing could set us off. I mean meanwhile amongst my friends I have ex-drunks who’ve been sober a few days, months, years, and decades. Life happens to them (and to me!) – parents die, illness, financial ruin, divorce, our children are hurt – and we don’t think of a drink at all. I’ve already lived through several instances of sorrow, stress, and pain and got through it all in a place of not-thinking-of-a-drink. Sometimes I think when I got sober I was chemically changed, really.

Today though I ran across someone and it took me back. Middle of the day and he’s got some wine in a glass and he’s sloshing the glass and sloshing himself and he’s all jolly because he’s got a daylight buzz going.  We had a brief but merry little talk and I felt so much love and peace being there in the sunshine. Just this funny little drunk trying to get along, bumbling along the river bank. Just so human. And like visiting an old movie of myself, even though the fellow was much older than I.

My children have been having modest financial success with their lemonade stand concern. Today on our ride back home from the drugstore I ask Phee if she wants to help Nels catch the tourists coming through town tomorrow.

Sunkissed from soccer practice, she is tired but amiable. Regarding helping her brother sell lemonade, she says, “Maybe…” but looks skeptical. I ask, “What can I give you to make it more fun for you?”

She pauses. Then, “A dinosaur.”

This summer has been a beautiful one so far. I have come into conscious contact with my pain and it’s not comfortable – but it’s very real, at least.

Nels, Just Awake


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