Part 1: "That's Just Life on Life's Terms"
I hadn’t seen him in 25 years when he walked into the bar - & would’ve continued through life never knowing the difference, if our childhood friend hadn’t died.
Life’s unforeseen turns are funny like that, the constant struggle of paradoxes pulling us in opposing directions & landing us here in the middle, in what we call reality… Beginnings that inevitably bring endings, & endings that always bring new beginnings… Light that makes us able to recognize dark, & then dark that makes us acknowledge goodness, & so on.
I knew our late friend Micah on one side – the one that says, “She’s your Dad’s childhood best friend’s daughter, your childhood best friend’s little sister, & your little sister’s childhood best friend – act accordingly.” It was never said, & luckily with our families’ upbringings, never needed saying, because as I would come to find out after his death, Micah had many sides - & apparently the biggest cock anyone I spoke to who had seen it had ever crossed paths with.
I was aware that a decade before he had overcome his heroine addiction – they couldn’t hide it’s reality anymore when he was sent away to prison while his pregnant girlfriend handled what I can only imagine she never hoped to, alone. He’d cleaned his life up, was making great money running a handful of successful businesses & was a proud, involved father… Until a freak accident landed him in the basket of an emergency coast guard helicopter on the way to the closest hospital.
His eyeball was ripped from its socket in the middle of the night in a freak boat accident off The Channel Islands where we had all grown up bouncing between as blessed California kids. Unbeknownst to his saviors, they would become his executers, because the worst thing for a recovering heroine addict, is to be administered a synthetic heroine painkiller. He was addicted again & this time the weight was too heavy to carry.
Scott was always kind-hearted, charismatic & attractive… Still is. But I was clueless to the fact that the past 2 decades had also made him into a recovering addict, father to 3 & husband to none, which, in all honesty, caught me off guard. “I never injected like Micah – it just wasn’t my get-down,” he told me, as if I knew the nuances, let alone differences between addictions.
We exchanged numbers – as I think everyone was expecting - & with our equal rawness, became close friends quickly. As the hours of conversations continued over the weeks, he answered me many times with, “That’s just life on life’s terms, Babe.” I found it so insightful that I wrote it down; little did I know it’s a mantra in 12-step recovery programs.
You played the game, though it’s unfair – they’re all the same, like it compares? First you lose trust, then you get worried…
Part II: "Hi, My Name Is Billie & I'm A Sugar Addict."
In my unyielding desire to absorb as much of god’s amazing world as I can - those breathtaking things that are both beautiful & horrific – I asked to join Scott at the weekly NA meeting where he stands as secretary. I wanted to understand more of addiction, a plague that I believe is entirely within our control to be abolished, but also recognize, not until we understand the in’s & out’s of it’s creation.
My “get-down,” is sugar - different from the people I joined, yes, but I knew I could learn plenty nonetheless. There was no speaker for the night, so it became a verbal group check-in by way of “tag-you’re’-it” which rotated boy, girl, boy, girl…
In every person who spoke, I heard, saw & felt the qualms of my own life reflected back to me. As different as they appeared from me when they first walked up to the church & hugged me, kindly introducing themselves: their desperate reaches for attention that came in the color of their hair, their inability to maintain focus for longer than a few minutes before talking to their neighbor, the details of their scenarios, or the iguana on one girl’s head… All disappeared when I met their eyes as I heard their stories. The questions they asked, the hurts they felt & the everyday hiccups they spoke of were many of the same struggles across my own life.
After leaving, I quizzed the boys over a second dinner searching for clues & patterns to build my constant case of overcoming our debilitating coping mechanisms of this life – of how to create lifestyles built on quality, not quantity, & mainly through each person’s particular met needs. I begged Scott to write a book…
“I need you to write your stories down for me - to get those rotting, festering poisons out of you & into the world where they can inspire others to do the same, just like that meeting tonight. What a beautiful fucking inspiration it was - to feel that much truth come out & swirl into that room. That much empathy & safety & all those second chances…”
“Yeah, it’s pretty special, isn’t it,” he said, which I found to be such a typical boy’s understatement.
“I know everything is one step at a time, but don’t forget ‘your body is a temple’, ‘we must be the change we wish to see in the world’ & all that jazz… For now, it’s fine. But once you’re deeper into this program - & have torn more spoiled layers off this onion – I’m going to start pushing you to ditch other unhealthy habits.
And your inability to be alone & fulfilled at the same time.
Because I know you have it in you to drop them.”
No response came for the rest of my drive home, so before bed I sent 1 last text: “But rest assured, not tonight. Goodnight my dear friend.”