a week ago i posted about alcohol. specifically, my relationship with white wine. i didn’t feel great. in fact, i felt pretty damn lousy. the self-loathing ticker was high. i had returned from florida and never got my bearings.
especially since on wednesday of last week i had a martini for the first and last time of my life. and was suitably embarrassed and mortified by the effects and consequences.
but i never felt quite so bad as when facebook friend #331 messaged that i couldn’t come see her. i had thought she was an agoraphobic unable to leave the house. i thought i was being a good friend to show up, say “hey, i can do it, so can you” and i was wrong.
“i can go anywhere. i don’t have a problem with getting out of the house,” miss x* assured me. ”i don’t have your problem. but i read your post. i drink too. pint of vodka a day. but that’s down.”
“i’d want to meet you sober.”
“forget it. too scary.”
“well, scary for me too.”
i told her i would drive to kentucky, i would knock on her door and if she opened the door, saw me, slammed the door it would be fine. at least, she would know that her facebook friend wanted the best for her.
sunday night i picked up my messages on facebook and my phone at ten fifteen. she wanted to cancel again. i called. she was hostile and frustrated. her thoughts were expressed like the first break in billiards, with three balls dropping in pockets, the rest bouncing against the walls, and the eight ball scratching.
the problem to her was that i hadn’t been in communication with her since thursday. that i didn’t phone her. that i didn’t keep lines of communication open. that it was too much pressure to clean the house in anticipation of my arrival if i wasn’t going to arrive. and time–there needed to be an exact time.
i have a garmin gps that was purchased for me by a friend who was tired of reading blogposts in which i fretted over having gotten lost. the garmin tells me the exact time i will reach a location. trouble is, i still get lost. i turn at the next street over, i miss the exit, i don’t see the turnaround. my garmin shrieks “recalculating! recalculating!” and then i say . . . @%#xte$!!!!
then i listened closely. i wasn’t listening to my facebook friend who is witty and funny and adorable in her posts, statuses, and comments. no, i was listening to alcohol. alcohol had taken over the conversation entirely. and i got the impression a lot of people had said “so long, happy trails to you” when alcohol had butted into their chats with miss x.
so i said i would call her in the morning and we’d figure out whether we would meet. i admit to thinking “nope, we’re not doing this”
in the morning, she was the miss x i had been communicating with on facebook for the last year and a half. the one with witty, wry observations. the one who had seen a news piece about me and friended me, saying “i don’t have your problems but boy i sympathize” she was nervous, but so was i.
i drove the three hours from indianapolis to louisville. i was a little early, but i thought that was good because i would catch her before she had a chance to pop a pre-meeting vodka.
i wasn’t early enough. and she had one while i was there. again, i had a conversation with alcohol. i couldn’t keep up with the tangents. and i couldn’t keep up with the emotional swings–happy, insecure, witty, hostile, frustrated, apologetic, demanding, paranoid, sweet as can be.
she said don’t judge me and i said i can’t judge you i am in jail with you. i’m just standing closer to the door.
i shared with her what i’m doing to rein in my drinking. she was intrigued but argued the point of whether i was an alcoholic, a heavy drinker or an amateur. she drank more in an afternoon than i could lay down in an entire night–but she herself said she could drink any 250 pound man under the table. she considered me an amateur.
can you name another disease besides alcoholism that’s self-diagnosed? miss x considers me an amateur, social drinker. there’s people who think of me as off the charts, ship me off to rehab. the horrific thing is the very people who will say “you have a problem” are often the people who are the first to bolt. miss x has had some bolters. i want to get out her address book and say “hey, whassup dude?” because she’s brave, smart, funny and needs all friends and family on deck. it is said that when the lions go after the gazelles, the pack separates the weak for slaughter. no, don’t separate her from the pack. she’s your best one, the one that will tell the lion what’s what.
i believe some people drink because they are bored, boredom being shorthand for no purpose, because they are that one lost sheep that the shepherd needs to find. miss x is unemployed, with no children to care for, no volunteer activities and–by her account–no friends (hello, i’m here in your kitchen!).
i suggested a goal, a purpose. doesn’t matter what it is, just that she try. i made a new years resolution on december 2010 to meet the (then) 325 facebook friends i have. that’s a pretty silly life mission when you think about it. but if you wake up every morning with a reason to push, you do.
miss x is adorable and beautiful and we made a contract that her goal was to walk one half hour before ever having that first drink. i’m a big believer in small goals and big goals. this is a small but manageable goal.
i was sorry to have to leave her. she went to a nephew’s house to see relatives and help with a little one’s homework. she said “i feel like i’ve gained and lost a friend in the space of a few hours” and i said no, i became your friend on facebook a year and a half ago, and i got to meet you today and i will be your friend tomorrow.
i was speaking the truth.
i am striking for cookeville, tennessee tomorrow. i believe i meet two facebook friends, one of whom WILL be the inspiration for miss x. i’m just playing matchmaker for two new best friends.
i truly hope miss x believes me because we will meet again, my 331st facebook visit since january 1, 2011.
*she kept saying i could use her name, that she had no secrets, but i think for the moment i’d like to let this her be miss x.
miss x looks very much like lana turner from the 1966 movie “madame x” about a mother who sacrifices everything for the welfare of her husband and infant son. except for the fact that miss x wore blue jeans. i am so enchanted by the movie madame x, which i watched when i was barely an infant, that i like calling my friend “miss x”