May 8, 1999

I overshot my bus stop by twenty blocks yesterday afternoon.

It was one of those serendipitous Fridays when I'd been able to grab an actual seat on the bus, and I kept my nose buried in a book for most of the ride from town.
When I finally glanced up in mid-chapter, there we were ... merrily sailing down Santa Clara toward the *wrong* end of the island.

"Shit! NO!!" I screeched, lunging across my startled seat partner to yank on the stop cord. The bus driver and I locked eyes in the rearview mirror ("Yeah? Like I'm gonna pull over just for you, lady?"), and he kept us rolling for another four or five blocks before unceremoniously coming to a stop, right in the middle of the street. Annoyed -- with myself, mostly -- I grabbed my book bag and my jacket and climbed off the bus. I stood on the sidewalk squinting into the Alameda sunshine for a minute or two.

This was so not-good.

I had to pee like a five-year-old full of Big Gulp. I was ravenously hungry. I was wearing my second-most-uncomfortable pair of shoes, and one layer of clothing too many for this warmish afternoon. I'd left my glasses in David's car the night before, so the world looked as bright and blurry as a fingerpainting. I was a good mile and a half from The Castle.

So ... I did the only thing I could do at that point.

I checked my purse to see if I had enough money for a taxi. Four crumpled one dollar bills, a handful of pennies and nickels, a shiny new Delaware quarter and a guitar pick. Crap some more.

So ... I did the only OTHER thing I could do at that point.

I started walking.

Funny thing about walking in California sunshine on a Friday afternoon in May: it is next-to-impossible to remain in a foul mood for longer than thirty seconds. Yes, I'd had a semi-crappy day at work. (I want to kill whoever invented fax toner cartridges.) Yes, I could feel a brand-new blister erupting on my right instep. Yes, I was hot and sweaty and thirsty and sun-blind and my bladder was swelling up like a PONTOON and I couldn't wait to get home and take a nice long ...

(Shower. I couldn't wait to take a nice long SHOWER. What did you think I was going to say?)

... the point is that in spite of the minor physical discomforts, I actually began to enjoy myself as I walked towards home. Alameda in full springtime *bloomage* is as glorious and as life-affirming a place to be as any on the planet. There is something about the light and the air here in California that I can't quite describe: it has an oddly fluid quality, like walking through liquid gold. It's very pleasant. So are the neighborhoods surrounding The Castle. I clomped along streets lined with Victorian houses and eucalyptus trees, poppy fields (how L. Frank Baumlike!) and barber shops and bakeries, and I listened to mourning doves and trains, and I smiled at a sticky toddler in a passing stroller, and I thought to myself ...

"Holy fudking GOD I have to pee."

Well. OK. That was ONE of my thoughts.

But I was also thinking "I am so glad to be here." Not only because Alameda is a groovy place to live, and because I'm healthy and happy and in love and all that other happy-crap I'm constantly yammering on and on about ...

... but because I knew I wouldn't be spending my Friday night bathing my kidneys in alcohol, like the little knot of people smoking outside of The Shamrock would be, a little later.

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It's difficult to remember a time when Friday nights didn't revolve around drinking, in one form or another. From high school, right up until those final horrific months in the Tree House last summer -- with occasional breaks for pregnancy, motherhood, illness, travel, temporary sanity -- for me, Friday nights and alcohol went hand-in-hand.

In high school, it was throwing up in my purse during a Led Zeppelin concert, after drinking a Pepsi can full of straight Smirnov filched from Dad's liquor cupboard.

In college, it was warm beer in Dixie cups, "Physical Graffiti" on Mr. and Mrs. Peterson's stereo, and 11 p.m. *visits* from the King County Police Department.

In the early years of my marriage, it was four Bloody Mary Specials followed by screaming arguments in the parking lot of The Kenmore Bowl.

During the Momhood years, it was a pitcher or five of Rainier down at Dave's Place, while a babysitter watched the girls for $1.50 an hour. (We put that babysitter through college, basically.)

Later in Momhood, when I discovered the cyber world, it was cheap chablis and the Baby Boomer Chat Room.

Last summer, it was Drinking To Forget.  Except that when I woke up the next morning,  I really HAD forgotten. ("Who did I talk to last night?? What did I say??")  Black-out drinking became the norm, rather than the exception.

Twenty-five years' worth of "fun." Is it any wonder that's it's taken me awhile to remember how to relax and enjoy myself on Friday nights without a box of Livingston Cellars sitting on the floor beneath the computer?

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I finally made it home to The Castle yesterday afternoon, mere seconds before my bladder would have blown like Verducci.  (Miracle of miracles, someone had left the security door unlatched, so I didn't have to spend precious seconds f**king around with the keys.)

Talk about relief. I think they could hear me screaming in ecstacy, four counties over.

I pulled off the second-most-uncomfortable shoes and rubbed some Neosporin on the brand-new blister ... divested myself of several layers of clothing ... threw open the windows of The Castle, to let a little of that *fluid air* inside ... fixed myself an enormous glassful of V8 Splash and a turkey sandwich ... threw the new/old BeeGees CD onto the stereo ... and plopped my weary butt into a chair. Time to relax and read my mail and wait for David to get home. We had a hot date at Barnes & Noble later (birthday shopping), to be followed no doubt by Nash Bridges and a gallon of Muddy Igloo. 

Not everybody's idea of a swingin' Friday night, maybe. But more "fun" than standing around outside of The Shamrock all night. 

Or throwing up into my purse.

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Personal Message Time: Sunday is a special day for two of the people I love most on this planet ... my wonderful Mom and my equally wonderful *Sig Other*.  (Click on the links to read a special message for each.)

I love youse guys! Happy Mother's Day, Mom ... and Happy Birthday, David!



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