My Not So Straight and Narrow Path
Looking back I can pin point the exact moment where I what little control I had of my life. Most people would say it was that first beer when I twelve years old, but I know better than that. That first beer didn’t send me into a corkscrew of bad decisions. It just left me unstable like a Jenga tower about to fall waiting for that next false move. It started with a guy named Brad. He was the kind of person whose personality radiated from him whether it was on those rare occasions where he was able to keep his mouth shut, or when he was actually talking.
There was no way for him to tone down his personality. No matter how hard he tried, there was always something different about him that had to stand out. Physically, Brad was very tall and skinny but muscular, with the kind of body frame that couldn’t keep on weight. Across his stomach was a long deep scar from a drunken car crash on Ortega that had left him in a coma for a week. He was twenty five years old, but at the most looked as though he was eighteen. He had the ability to charm anyone and everyone; I guess that must have been how I got wrapped up in all of this with him. How I met Brad was simple enough, but sometimes the simple things change your life the most. He was a friend of a friend, just someone who happened to be there one night when we were fishing around the lake. It was two in the morning and really too dark for me to see his face, then he stepped into the light and that was when his magnetism took hold. We left our friends and went back to his house. Along the way we filled silences with idle chit chat like “Wow, I didn’t know that Luke had any girls willing to hang out with him” and me responding with “ Well I guess he’s not too bad of a guy…. Sometimes…” We laughed most of the walk, making jokes at our mutual friend’s expenses. When we arrived at his house, we let ourselves into the backyard and out of a tall, worn garden shed with a rusty make shift lock he pulled out a carton of beer and a bong. He nodded at the stash he held in his hand and then nodded at me as if to say “are you up for this?” Not wanting him to think of me any differently, I said “Yeah, of course I am. Are you sure you can handle this with me, though?” He laughed in response, and said “You seem like your full of trouble” and I thought to myself “if you only knew.”
We started with a cold can of Coors, each can sweating and reflecting the Christmas lights draped across the patio that had been neglected to be taken down although it was already July. One beer led to another and then those beers led a craving for a hard packed bowl, so we slowly began mingling sips of beer with hits from the bong. Our smoke mingled together becoming one before melting away into the crisp air. We parted ways after our provisions had dwindled down to nothing but backwash in warm cans and ash. We said goodbye to each other and made plans to hang out again really soon. I had always hated repetitive schedules but, for some reason, this didn’t seem repetitive to me. I had tricked my mind into thinking this was different even though like clockwork we would meet up. Slowly, though, instead of sticking with things being the way they were, I began to crave more, and everything else that should have been important fell to the wayside.
All I could focus on was the next time I could drink, and I did it at every opportunity available. Even if that meant ditching school or, if school wasn’t avoidable, just drinking at school and trying to hide it the best I could. Brad encouraged it, and I thought “if no one is unfavorable to my actions then there is no reason to stop because I must not be doing anything really truly wrong.” I was living in the denial of my own blissful, clouded mind. I never saw that my-not-so-straight-and-narrow-path wasn’t just taking a toll on me. It was changing how everyone around me saw me; people could tell something was wrong. The only friend I had left was Brad, if you could call someone who was promoting your downfall and making you reliant on them a friend. I was lost.
It took me so long to find myself an escape route from the rough road I had put myself on, nothing was able to pull me out of this fog of negativity. But eventually I found help in the people I had thought I the help came not from a bottle of beer but from the love and concern of friends and family. Just when I was completely lost they found me and in a way towed me back onto the paved road. All of this made me realize that alcohol not only affects the addict but everyone around them, alcohol is like an atomic bomb doing the most damage to the target but also damaging those in the same vicinity as the explosion.