It’s Sunday morning and my head is clear. I’ve decided to slow down and take things easy. They say it’s bad for you, all the drinking, but if they saw the way I’ve been tackling the bottle, they’d change ‘bad for you’ to ‘Oh, Jesus’. There have been countless nights where I’ve thought, ‘This can’t stop. This is never going to stop.’ Another can is pressed into my hand, an extra measure gets poured into my glass and there’s no way to slow down. Not where I’m concerned. So, now I’ve made this change and I feel like I’m down a man. I feel like I’ve told myself I’m not going to hang out with a friend for a while until they get their shit together.
Booze has been this friend for years, fast and true. It has been the fuel for every concert I’ve ever played, barring those at which I’ve been too hung over to drink. It has been the familiar hand in mine, held close to my face to relish the comfort of its familiar smell; a smell that can sail me along the river of its night to the mouth of its ocean.
Walking home from a movie last night I left my headphones out and plugged in the city: Downtown Toronto, Queen Street near closing time on a Saturday night. It’s amazing what your brain gets to process on nights like this. The whole town is out, trawling its neighbor-hoods, half cut and intent on that last minute drink.
In my mind, when I’m drunk, I believe that everything near me is lost in this same blur of being. You feel the way the streets speed up and the buildings slow down to become a part of one another, or how a room with just three people can be as loud as a jet engine, With your arm around a lady, heading home or heading out, it’s the comfort of feeling that you’re not quite alone. Which is why, which is why, which is why, I do this to constant, de-structive excess.
In truth, I’m probably one of the few people on these nights who’s so drunk they don’t re-member what they said five minutes ago. I’ve worn down the heels on all my shoes, the soles dragged lopsided in countless staggering returns from parties that I didn’t want to end. I’ve fought wars with the help of booze, conquered worlds and slain the great foes of memory and feeling.
And never do I have anything to show. A sense in my own mind that I’ve out-drank the room has long ceased serving as a victory. Nobody cares. Going home to someone’s warm arms is what matters, not an empty balcony and a few crumpled, late night ciga-rettes. At the end of these nights, I can almost see the holes that I have been trying to fill: still unstopped, the booze leaking freely.
But I’ve started to plug them with whatever is at hand. Late at night, television keeps my brain propped up above a threatening sea of boredom and drink lurking inches below. And on my couch with my guitar, I strum my way across this uncertain water, my notebook and pen as the mast and sail. I know I’ll never be rid of drink entirely. I love it too much. And it’s fair to say that I don’t want to be rid of it. This is why I’m changing. I want to be able to drink for the rest of my life. I want to be able to enjoy it for as long as possible without it killing me.
This is all progress. We are growing old. Accept what you know.