The Swim

I’ve spent the last couple nights more or less sober. I’ve been wrestling a nasty bastard of a cold and, shockingly, trying to drown the concept of illness in massive quantities of liquor has had very mixed success. Melatonin used to work for me, but I’ve not found the time to get any. The grocery store is much further than the liquor store and on the occasion I do make it to the kind of place that sells all natural sleep supplements, I forget that I’ve been wanting it and buy Hot Pockets instead.

Hot Pockets, mind you, result in me writhing around on my bed with the pangs of regret and some kind of hellfire tearing through my stomach and heart, which you might recognize as the exact opposite of a sleep aid.

See, I’ve been going through a very weird, contained kind of self-destruction and I have absolutely no idea why. My job is going well. My bills are being paid, though I’m blowing all of my free money. The two and a half books I’ve written and put up for sale have been so well-received that I’ve been commissioned to write a novel for a tabletop company. I should have started that two, three weeks ago instead of just last night.

The last couple nights, I’ve taken to some shitty free app that plays the sound of rain falling in an effort to get to sleep sober sometime before 7AM. Alcohol is so much easier.

You get used to that swimming feeling. It’s not the taste, though that kind of burn (much different from the molten hate eating Hot Pockets brings) can be a satisfaction all its own. Or maybe you like the sweeter stuff, or maybe you drown it with so much water or syrup that you can’t taste it at all. Me, I like the liquor burn. I like the way it makes my eyes wince and the hot feeling that drags down my throat until it settles in my stomach like I’ve swallowed some kind of blanket.

You do it for that swim, that muddle-headed easiness that makes your limbs loose and your shoulders sag enough that the burdens on them don’t feel so damn heavy. Your words come a little easier on good nights. You feel more confident or – if not more confident – more ready to let life play its cards out and if you end up with a bad hand, prepared to put another bet in or switch to another game or something, fuck it, who cares, tomorrow is another day.

On the bad nights, you get in that sweet spot where everything reminds you of her or him or that one time you had the chance of a lifetime and you didn’t take it or you screwed it up. This spot is a mixed blessing because now you’re sitting there and you’re so introspective that everything outside of your gentle consciousness is driven into a filtered focus. These songs are so much deeper. The way the streetlight hits the snow-covered lonely streets is so much sharper. The tears you pushed down are coming right back up but now they’re designated appreciative tokens towards a more beautiful thing.

That swimming feeling. You get used to the toss back, the two second swish and the swallow for that dip into the pool of comfortability. You don’t do it to become illiterate, unintelligible or unable to walk straight. You do it to get to that point where you can fall asleep in minutes instead of staring at the ceiling and wondering what the fuck. You do it so you’re not having nightmares that feel too real. You get used to that easy, coaxed feeling.

There is control. Restraint. You keep from being sloppy. But you get used to a specific way of getting loose. That warm, comfortable, easy little swim.

WELL. That all came off more depressing than I wanted, but hopefully some of you will know you’re not in it alone. Until next time, here’s a little ditty I wrote set to The Sound of Silence:

Hello, Captain, my old friend
I’m here to drink you down again
You keep me buzzing, nice and warm
Forget about the icy storm
And the worries that have plagued me all damn day
The slip away
With this pour…of liquor

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