February 2006

Almost five years into sobriety, things were unraveling in my life.  Things assuredly appeared swell on the outside.  But my desire for chaos prevailed when I decided to practice for an upcoming Caribbean cruise by having a couple of drinks with my girlfriend Sarah.  I enjoyed a really good Italian beer, and a sip of her fancy woman drink that night.

The next night, sans girlfriend, I downed half a bottle of Jack Daniel’s alone at a local pub.  I woke up with the worst hangover I’d ever had.  I vowed I would never drink again.  And I didn’t.  Until the cruise the next week.

Viva la Mexico!

A few days after my relapse and before the cruise, Sarah, with whom I was going on the trip, broke up with me.  I really didn’t see it coming.  We had gotten along so well.  She was beautiful, smart, and funny.  All the things everybody looks for.  I took it pretty badly.  Blamed myself, then her.  Then me again.  But we still went on the cruise.

If you have never been on a cruise, I have two pieces of advice for you.  #1: Do it!  #2: Bring all your money (don’t forget your savings).

I spent most of the cruise on a pretty good buzz.  We went from Miami to Costa Maya, to Grand Cayman, to Jamaica.  I almost drowned in Grand Cayman after my snorkel filled with salt water and I was in 7 feet of water.  Until then I had never been in a body of water that had currents.   I say I almost drowned because my lungs filled with burning water and I panicked.  Until then I was unaware that the dog paddle was so useless in a current.  In a lake, of which Minnesota has 10,000, you can float if you need to.  Not true in the ocean.

Thankfully, the current brought me right to a floating dock after about a minute of breathing a mixture of air and water.  I climbed up the ladder, threw up, and laid down until all the other assholes who knew how to swim were done snorkeling.  Then I did an Olympic dive of the dock and the 100-meter breast stroke of a lifetime to the shore.  Piece of cake.  People looked at me as if I had been chased by a shark.  Which was my motivation when I dove in.  Fuck the ocean.

Sarah and I didn’t speak much on the cruise, and I think only once after.  After that I hit the ground running in Rochester.  A couple days after I got back I picked up a nasty little meth habit.  Lost my job after I found out I could get two days off paid if I said I was going to a family funeral.  Suddenly, back to back weeks, both my grandparents suffered fatal heart attacks.  I was so traumatized by the second that I never went back to work.  But I got a huge check including severance.  And I used that to fund my new drug-dealing business.

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