The biggest thing in my life started in a condo in New Hampshire, with a beer and a party. And at my older sister’s house in Silt, Colorado, with a shot of vodka and three cheers. And in Sydney, Australia, with a bottle of cheap wine and a movie night. And in Vernal, Utah, with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a phone charger with which I tried to strangle myself. And on a beach on the upper Colorado with yet another beer and yet another shot. It started in a whole bunch of other places, many of which I don’t remember.
Late one evening, just before a party started at the famous “Cottage of Hottage,” a house I once lived in where everyone I knew partied their faces off, a friend voiced the concern for the first time. We sat outside, under the brightening stars, and I had a beer in my hand. She told me if I kept drinking, I was going to die. She threatened to not be friends with me anymore if I kept going. She said she couldn’t deal with the thought that I was actively killing myself. My reply was a non-denial denial, the biggest no-no for public relations guys when they talk to a journalist who knows what he’s doing. I said I appreciated her concern, that I was going to be OK. I didn’t mention whether being OK included dying.
Of course, it did.
I failed to call myself out. The friend and I stopped talking, she left and I took the beer inside and drank it. And then a shot, and then another until I couldn’t see straight anymore. I did the same the following night, even though there was no party. I did the same most nights for two-and-a-half more years.
I drank for six years, total, until my new wife, Hailey, gave me the final stand – I would quit, or she would leave. Doctors have since told me that had I kept going, I might not have been able to walk by the time I turned 40. I might not have been alive.
I try not to tell myself that I’m never going to drink again; that goal’s a little too big. I tell myself every morning I’m not gonna have a drink today; that’s big enough. Of this writing, Oct. 21, 2012, I’m more than a year sober.