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There are only three things I truly regret in life.
Sure, there is a veritable plethora of incidents I really, really wish never would have happened, but only three of them that held – and still hold – lasting implications:
1) Not having told my father that I could indeed become a lawyer, an absolutely incredible lawyer, but that I was a writer, and that was the course that was chosen for me, the course I needed to follow.
2) Letting what could have been a treasured, blessed life-long friendship slip through my fingers because it would not be the relationship I desired, could not be the relationship that was truly never meant to be, but was destined to be a friendship that could have lasted our ages.
3) Letting the alcohol take control. To have forgotten how to walk without the crutch.
Had I been able to recognize it for what it was earlier than I had, it might not have caused the destruction it did. It would not have come as close to bringing on the total devastation it almost did.
The drugs? Three years into the Long Weekend it was pretty lightweight. I had never done speed or downers. Hallucinogens? Whatever passed for Mescaline, a few dozen times over the first five years. Maybe.
Mushrooms once in a bit because at least you knew what you were getting. Couldn’t be cut with speed or nothing, elephant tranquilizer shit or whatever. You scrape off the strychnine, pop them in some soup, chow down, hurl and you’re good to go. Probably already gone by the time your hurl.
Smoking was the only one with any staying power, and when I had some, I had some. When I didn’t, I would sooner or later so fuck it. Al usually had a few joints to spare if it looked like it was going to be a while.
That gateway was far too narrow to fit my skinny little ass.
But it was the drinking that pushed them all out of the way.
They had only been pretenders.
It was the quarter draws that were calling the shots with more quarts than the eye could see and six-packs then you could count right behind.
It was the alcohol.
It almost cost me my marriage, my wife, my daughter. It would have cost me my son.
It cost me Colorado.
After we had left, it was twenty-five years before we very briefly returned, only for a family funeral and the resultant trauma that ensued for my wife.
It had changed back there, even farther up Deer Creek Canyon than we had been. Denver was bigger, more populated, busier and surrounded by newer residential hubs and conjoining freeways.
But there were still all the places, there was still all the room where you could leave the real world at 5PM and return to the peace and tranquility and solace only to be found in the mountains I treasured for the sanctity they had to offer.
In what could be a linchpin proposition in the Nature versus Nurture argument, I never felt quite right in the fast-moving, over-crowded, maniacal environs of the New York City metropolitan area. You could drive for hours in almost any given direction and not be aware of actually leaving one town and eventually entering another.
In California, I found the same. The only times I started to feel at ease within myself was when we lived in the foothills, and even then it was only a start. Everywhere else we lived only aggravated the anxiety that had become has much a part of me as the color of my eyes.
The natures of Depression and Anxiety would have allowed them to follow me from Arkansas to Jersey to wherever I would find myself, and I certainly remembered to pack them on the trip to the Left Coast. And they’ve been alongside me all along.
When people ask me how long I’ve had Depression, I pretty much figure the predisposition to it was there, and it first came out to play when I woke up from a nightmare at age eleven and went to our first floor bathroom to find my uncle Ben sprawled out in only his robe and boxers, half in and half out of the bathtub after his first stroke.
The Anxiety really started to kick in with the responsibilities of the Parenthood. Marriage had not been off to a good start, and it seemed like overnight that my ass was no longer the only one on the line.
Back home in Colorado, I had genuinely and passionately begun the long trip to bring the Two Demons (and their tainted cousin ADD) under any semblance of control, and I had found someone to guide me on that path.
Whatever life I have created for myself and for my wife and our children here in California has been incredible because of their presence in it, but to this day and through whatever days I have left, I could never believe I wouldn’t have made a better life to share with them back there.
These days, with very little to do with my time other than look back, by the time I finally get to herbally-induced sleep after long, largely regretful days, I can indeed sleep fairly well all things considered …
“The general principle behind ‘growing up’
with a certain respectable modicum of ‘maturity’
is centered around taking life’s fuck-ups
and turning them into Research.”
J. K. R. Nash IV