Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Sojourn with Homeless Drunks

"Are you heading to bed?" Clara asked me early this morning as we sat in the park by the abandoned cotton mill.

"No," I replied. "I am just going to walk until I get sleepy."

"I'm coming with you."

I wanted to be left alone. By sheer coincidence, Clara ended up in the park with me. She had been drinking beer all night and was avoiding the police. My little place of solitude felt desecrated -- an interloper in our midst. I come here to think and gather my thoughts. To be alone. Not to sojourn with homeless drunks. I felt guilty for almost writing that, but it's the truth. Blunt honesty is always a weapon I wield when I am not feeling well.

"Can I come home with you?" Clara then asked with a whine in her voice. Her inhibitions dashed by a dozen or more beers.

"You know my girlfriend would never approve," I responded.

"She will never know... "

"Yes, she will," I replied. "Nothing escapes her."

I walked on down to the rail yard with Clara in tow. I sat on the bench by the old Chattahoochee Valley Railway caboose on display. Clara sat next to me. I noticed she had on short sleeves and it was very chilly this morning. She needed a jacket.

"Aren't you cold?" I asked her.

"Yeah, in a way," she said, "but the beer helps me stay warm."

"You are going to get sick."

We both grew very quiet as I sat and watched Clara take drink after drink of tepid beer from her backpack. I had a warm flannel shirt on and took off my fleece pull-over and gave it to Clara. Clara scrambled to put it on. Thanking me.

"I feel interesting," I finally told her as we sat. Hoping it would scare her off.

"What do you mean?"

"Mentally interesting," I replied, tapping my index finger to my temple.

I felt as if I was a third person, out of my body, watching everything unfold. As if I was having a near death experience and I was floating above at the ceiling, watching, as they tried to revive me. Schizophrenia can be so disconcerting at times.

"You're freaking me out," Clara said, slurring her words, but not daunted enough to miss another drink of beer.

"Oh, I am not interesting in a violent kind of way," I replied as I backpedaled. "I am just having trouble organizing my thoughts -- discerning reality from fantasy."

I then went on to tell Clara how alcohol helps me during these times. She handed me a quart of Colt 45 and I drank it with gusto. Soon, feeling quite swimmy headed. I know I shouldn't be self medicating with beer at 5 a.m. in the morning. I just needed to escape -- to feel some solace. I needed the calming effects of that alcohol.

Me and Clara finally parted ways as she walked back to the shopping center to go sleep off her drunk in her little nesting spot on that loading dock behind the dollar store. I ran across the highway and purchased two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits when Merl's Diner opened for breakfast at 6 a.m. Followed by purchasing two more quarts of malt liquor at the convenience store next to Merl's. I sat drinking my malt liquor and eating my biscuits as the first light of daylight began to show.

I so wish I could sleep. I was hoping the beer would calm my mind and make me crawl into the bed to sleep until this afternoon. No joy. I was haunted by thoughts of Clara curled up in her sleeping bag on that loading dock. Alone, with no one who cared. I wondered if I was eventually going to end that way like I once was when I was homeless. I realized I should have brought her home to let her sleep off the drinking on my couch. Rosa would just have to get over it. Clara was long gong by then, though. My mind having changed.

Finally made it home as the sun was rising following Venus high into the sky. Soon, clouds rolled in from the Gulf of Mexico obscuring the sun and creating a depressive ambiance to the sky and out-of-doors. It would be a perfect dreary day to just sleep until I could sleep no more. So glad I have a journal I can come and write in to share what I am experiencing. Some of you mean the world to me and your comforting comments making journaling all the worthwhile.


KYRIE said...

No. You will not end up like Clara.
Everything will work out for u one day. You will find tht seemingly elusive rainbow. I know u will. Take care and keep warm.

Barb said...

I woke at 400am and took a advil PM...big mistake....I slept long and hard, waking very groggily at 9~ Damn was I desperate at 4. A Shout out to you for having trouble at night, falling asleep~ I hope your sleep this day, is long and hard!


nengaku said...

I wish I felt as confident as the reader above, but I'm not. And the ONLY reason I'm not is because you are drinking. I've known so many really intelligent and really good-hearted people who ended up like Clara because they would not commit to JUST TODAY not drinking. And most of those folks didn't have schizophrenia to complicate the picture.
Go to a meeting today. Just do it today - one day sober. The loss of sleep will be much less of a problem for you in the long run than the alcohol.
And,you know, there IS NO "elusive rainbow" that you get to find once and for all. It's just taking it one day at a time - just not taking that NEXT drink for today. You can do it, man. You've done it before. You know the drill. Go to a meeting. Invite Clara to go with you. Don't get upset if she says no. Just go. It really is a matter of life and death. You have a progressive terminal illness and the only treatment is not drinking for today. And going to a meeting is the most effective intervention you've found to help you do that.

Eric Valentine said...

I think you spend far too much time worrying about Clara, you should start thinking more about yourself and getting back on track.

You never seemed to get this bad when you were with Rosa and Clara hadn't happened yet.

It's all well and good to be the good samaritan Andrew, but you can't save the world, so try saving yourself first. :)

Lina said...

non conosco la tua lingua
ma se aveva il traduttore
certamente avrei letto volentieri i tuoi scritti

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

I think you're a very good writer.

Portia said...

blunt honesty eh? i commend you on that, i just posted about how that eludes me.
you are a good friend and a good boyfriend. sometimes it is hard to balance all that goodness:)

Tiffanie said...

Wow. You are completely a different person when you drink.

impromptublogger said...

I just want to let you know that we are pulling for you, and that you drinking does NOT make for more interesting reading. Your struggle to say sober is much more inspiring and interesting than hearing about you sliding. In fact drinking probably makes your stories less compelling. Part of the charm of your blog is your clear intelligent observations of everyday life and people that can ONLY be done when you are completely sober.

So please dear Andrew I hope you don't think you ever have to drink to please your readers.

Those are the ones who don't deserve respect anyway.

Stay strong.

PipeTobacco said...


You know that you are fine... if you look deep inside, you are a good person, and need not be 100% anything.

It is my personal opinion, that you feel in your words "mentally interesting" when you try to force perfection upon yourself. Be it wanting to be perfectly alone, or wanting to be perfectly drunk, or perfectly sober, or any sort of word you care to insert.

When you are accepting of and comfortable with having things (virtually all things) be in some sort of middle ground then you really seem to feel much happier. I know from what you have said before, that you are an "all-or-nothing" person.... but that is because that idea is what you have been brought up to believe is best.

Please just think about it a bit, what does it hurt if things are NOT all-or-nothing... but filled with countless bits of in-between? If you can become comfortable with accepting and wanting the "in-between" then I think you will find out how peaceful it is for you.

Your friend,


abbagirl74 said...

'Some of you mean the world to me and your comforting comments making journaling all the worthwhile.'

You mean the world to so many as well. There are many people who are struggling through the same things, looking to you for solacement and advice. This may seem like such a heavy burden, carrying the torch for so many in the same path. But you are strong. You will get through this. You always do.

Keep your head up, booger. We are here to support you.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Just leaving a simple note to say that you are strongly on my mind, Andrew, and I care about you.


You will be fine..this is just a sudden turn in your path of life..soon the sun will be back..
Im always off balance during change of seasons from the summer to fall and winter..blah!