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.