“The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
~ Hunter S. Thompson
Meditation can be a hell of a thing, especially for those in recovery from addiction or who’ve suffered a trauma of any kind. It has its own sneaky way of bringing shit up from our pasts that we believed long since gone.
As I sat in meditation recently, I had one of those experiences. It’s something I’ve learned to laugh at now, the absolute ridiculousness of it in a very Bukowski sort of way, but there’s of course a small part of my stomach that still knots up when memories like these rear their ugly heads.
This particular memory took place one winter evening circa mid 2000. I was drunk, like, really tying one on drunk, when I decided to order a pizza for delivery. Usually, during my heavy drinking times I could pretty much only eat when I was drunk, and for whatever reason, I could usually only stomach shitty processed foods.
At the time, I was living in one of two basement apartments, which were part of a six-apartment house. In my inebriated state, I was feeling a bit cooped up so I decided to wait for the delivery person on the front porch rather than my apartment, which was located in the rear of the building.
I ventured out and made my way to the front of the house and as I did so, slipped on some ice in the driveway. Luckily, however, I regained my balance before falling down (hello, foreshadowing) which was no small feat for someone three-sheets-to-the-wind.
I made my way to the front of the house, noticed that the street was relatively empty, and that was it…my last memory until I was startled awake in my bed by a cop standing over me yelling, “Where’s the dead body?”
I sat up, and everything was blurry. The complete shock of that cop yelling at me, followed by seeing roughly half a dozen police in my living room looking around did manage to temporarily sober me up a bit, but I was still shitfaced. I noticed that it was still dark outside and put two and two together that it was still the same night, but had no recognition of what had happened up to that point.
I don’t remember how I responded to any of the officer’s questions—regarding dead bodies or otherwise—and my only other real memory from the experience was that of being taken out of my apartment on a stretcher by paramedics.
It was a real scene: an ambulance, fire truck, multiple patrol cars, lights flashing everywhere, my neighbors standing in the driveway/parking area taking it all in, including a supervisor and co-worker from work who just happened to be driving by (my job at the time was located less than a minute from where I lived, at the end of my street).
I woke up the next morning in the hospital feeling a special kind of shit-tastic.
I was still drunk but not drunk enough to mask the nausea or pain that engulfed the majority of my body. The hospital psychologist eventually made her way in to see me, and that’s when I found out what went down to bring the police to my apartment in the first place.
So it goes like this: the delivery guy arrived with my pizza and called my cell to let me know he was out front. After two unanswered calls (per checking my cell history the next day), he drove around back to my basement apartment door, which I’d apparently left about halfway open.
My apartment was very small, so tight that everything — the kitchen, living room, my bedroom—could basically be seen standing in the entrance of the apartment. Apparently the delivery guy got quite the surprise when he poked his head into my half open door and saw a big puddle of blood on the kitchen floor, followed by what he thought was my dead body (complete with a bloody face and everything) sprawled out on my bed. He immediately proceeded to call 911 and report what he thought may have been a dead body, since I wasn’t acknowledging or responding to anything he said to me.
Once my B.A.C. (blood alcohol content) level reached below .08, the legal limit in CT, I was released from the hospital. I didn’t call anyone for a ride. It was only a three mile walk so I went for it, though it was a tough three miles because beside the hangover in full effect, my belt had gotten lost somewhere in the mix of all of this, so I had to hold my pants up the entire walk home. (I prefer to wear pants that are one size bigger than my waistline because, I don’t know, I just do.)
When I got back to the apartment the first thing I saw was the bloodstain on the tile floor, which was basically dry at this point. I wasn’t fazed in the least. I proceeded to open the cabinet next to the blood, which is where I’d often leave my alcohol, hoping there was still some in there and…hallelujah, there was! Enough at least to get me drunk-ish, which would allow for me to shower before heading out to the store to get more liquor to sustain me for the day.
I walked over to the couch, jug of vodka in hand, sat down and looked back over at the puddle of blood. I laughed an insane fuck you death kind of laugh to myself. The kind that told death I’d won again…at least this time.
I then glanced down at the coffee table in front of me and saw my copy of the Bhagavad Gita and Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text both sitting there. My laugh subsided for a brief moment as did the insanity. I became aware of how fucking crazy of an experience it was that I’d just gone through…but that moment of clarity was short lived, as I was nowhere near ready to face the magnitude of said insanity.
So I smiled a crooked and painful smile, raised my jug of vodka in the direction of the Gita and Basic Text in a taunting sort of way, and I drank deeply. So deeply that when I stopped, it was only because I had to take a deep breath.
Returning to present day, as I came out of meditation and the memory of this experience, I stopped and breathed deeply, however this breath was accompanied with serenity rather than vodka.
I then looked over to my bookshelf where I still have those copies of the Gita and Basic Text, and smiled at them. This time however, my smile was one of heartfelt gratitude rather than that of insane mockery.
It was a smile of appreciation to be living a life once was lost, but that today, just for today, is found.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives
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