Day 4: Pulling Gratitude Off The Shelf

Shaky hands in the morning that only a cup of coffee and three cigarettes could quell.

After regaining my equilibrium, I set out to meet an old friend for yet another cup of coffee and a jaunt to IKEA. On my walk across town, the air was cool and breezy. The day an almost perfect ode to fall. Sun, creeping through arched branches and gently fanning leaves, kissing the mid-morning stir of commuters and their car windshields. The end of a season. Because before the new, we must oust the old.

I moved the shit off my friend’s passenger seat, and we loaded in. We’re both starting anew, though, she has a different foe to fight. It’s comforting to know that there are people out there fighting for something, fighting for themselves. And, it’s refreshing to know that it isn’t always about alcohol. The rooms of AA sometimes would have you believe that the fellowship is all you are, all you have, if you’re an alcoholic. It’s not so. But, in the beginning, you have to start somewhere.

We drive. Talking about disappointments that are hard to drown out. People are stubborn. But, in just wanting to free yourself from whatever it is that binds you, you achieve victory.

In IKEA, an overwhelming plethora of crap surrounds us. Endless aisles of nick-knacks and things you never knew you needed, but, upon seeing them, cannot believe that you’d lived without them! For me, a welcome distraction from the pub that sits hardly a block from my home. Calling me. Assembling the bookshelf and desk I purchased will take for-fucking-ever. So, I’ve guaranteed myself at least two more sober nights. For my friend, the gargantuan space is perhaps too much. I can feel her tension and anxiety rise. I assure her we’re ok in this space. We fear things differently, and it’s nice for me to be sober enough to actually comfort someone else. These past few months especially, I have been incredibly selfish with my time and energy.

We are barely able to fit all our shit in her car. Eventually giving up on closing the trunk, we decide instead to tie it down with twine. We drive back to my apartment and unload my Swedish, assemble-yourself crap. As my friend drives off, she toots her horn goodbye. And, I’m filled with a gratitude I haven’t felt in a long time. Yes, for the ride, and the help, and even the company, but mostly for her strength. In her own struggle, she still managed to show up for me. Something I could never do while I was drunk or hungover or in between the the two.

As I build my new shelf, I think about the things I have to put on it, and the things it’s time to pull off.


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