For most of my adult life, I have been the champion of all errand runners, especially considering that I detest it so. Oh, I could take a route of 7 establishments, carrying a written list for each, take the shortest, straightest route to each, get the bargains and return home having completed each list. I could even incorporate a little "picking up" for my mother or the elderly woman next door. I watched the stores year around for holiday gifts and birthday gifts to be purchased and I had an eagle eye for new products on the shelves. My erranding prowess was a source of contention between Ex and me. I am sorry to say, in retrospect, that I turned it into a competition for which he felt no passion. No bright red letters marked next Tuesday in Ex's DayPlanner as "Errands" day. Others have been heartily appreciative of me. It's a mixed bag of stuff, like everything else. Yes, that bright red streak in the parking lot was me!
Life changes, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. I divorced and was no longer responsible for being the errander for 3 full-time. My holiday and birthday lists were whittled down to manageable. However, I remained efficient and thorough. It should be noted that I miss nothing as I drive through the streets. New store over there to be checked out! Oh, no, another Fresh & Easy location boarded up. My god, the Sahara corridor is like a ghost town with all the businesses and car lots shutting down. That branch of Borders is closing its doors - like I didn't see that coming. A new Ross Dress for Less ~ let's see, is it Geezer Day so I'll get my discount? Oh, bite me - now there is an 89-Cents store, apparently set to vie with all the 99-Cents emporia. I notice when buildings are painted a different color and I recall the storefronts that existed when I lived here years ago. Sometimes I can even recollect what sort of business was housed there in the 1970s. No, nothing on the land escapes me, and sometimes I spin around the block just to make sure I saw what I think I saw, losing no time on my route. Add to all of this the fact that I have a memory like an elephant. Oh, a mind that is a veritable index system of pretty much trivial data to anyone except myself. Welcome to my head.
After my alcoholic meltdown, I found I had misplaced a number of things I'd called upon for many years, if not an entire lifetime. I found I could not rely upon my head 100% of the time. This frightened me. My heretofore admirable stamina had evaporated. I was not physically capable of prolonged activity of any kind. Isolation being a strong element of alcoholism, I'd become fairly agoraphobic. Lists seemed a good idea. Perhaps they would help ground me. But I couldn't think of anything to write on the lists, or why I was writing one. I never lost the imprinting of the sights on the streets, but I didn't file them away with a snort or a giggle or a reminder to "take a picture of that and write something". Please note that those statements are written in past tense. I am in a program and a state of recovery. Recovery is a fluid thing, not static. I am not the exact same person I was in any other frame of the film that is me. I like the present one best, so far. And I arrange my errands across a wider span of time and a shorter space of distance now.
The weather had turned from wintry on the weekend to hot by Thursday and Friday. I reminded myself to take it slow, perhaps make some outings in the dusk or first thing in the morning. The first heat slam takes a lot out of everyone. All the stores and public buildings engage their air conditioning systems for the first time of the year, rendering the ambient air temperature about 20-degrees, it seems. Note to self: take spray water bottle for cooling off and sweater to wear indoors. I had a destination only about 6 miles from home, driving on streets and through areas of Las Vegas I'd never seen before. The eastern side of the valley was settled long ago, some communities and commerce arising shortly after the arrival of the WPA workers who came to build the Hoover Dam in the 1930s. There exists the "Boulder Strip" of casinos and resorts, which caters to a different clientele than those who prefer the Strip. Interspersed with some of the "big houses" are shabby little relics of bygone days, here a lush, shamefully water-wasting garden oasis, there a dirt patch that never supported any form of life. There are many pedestrians, but they are not exercisers. Walking appears to be their only mode of transportation, their worldly possessions upon their backs.
I am clumsy about people who stand at stoplight intersections with cardboard signs requesting money. I have never failed to have a heart plunge about such persons, not knowing whether their situation was as they present it or not, but definitely feeling sorrowful. I was rejected when I attempted to assist once. I'd seen a very young woman at an intersection I passed through each day. She looked physically worse by the day, it was hellish high July, and I was distraught. I gathered clothing I could spare, bought underwear new so she could see the package and know they'd never been worn, put together some toiletries, got a few fast food gift cards. I provided bottled water and I'd put much thought into keeping it all compact - her backpack wasn't huge. She told me loudly on that corner, attracting much attention, exactly where I could put my handouts. She wanted money. But I digress . . . .
The man at the intersection was of the bold variety, not only brandishing his sign, but walking up and down between the stopped cars, bumping against the fenders and doors. Look, I don't have any money. But if I did, and had I been inclined to part with some, he'd lost me with that car bumping. I may want to give money, but one may not demand it of me by bumping. I immediately got very busy eyeballing the attractions alongside the road. Even the panhandler could not have mistaken my intense concentration. He still bumped, but it no longer bothered me. For I'd landed upon the sight of the Lucky Cuss Motel and it pleased me. I am going to guess that the Lucky Cuss is about my age, circa early 1950s. It shows its age, but it has been well maintained with a fresh coat of paint. (Please, may that be my fate, as well.) I grinned to think of hipsters pulling into the Lucky Cuss parking lot when it was a happening place. In the parking lot I spotted a car that would be appropriate to the era in my head. Hmmmm . . . . imprinting the sights and making up stories. Well!
April Alliteration - AlcoholMy month-long musing about my alcoholic journeyHappy ending (at least for me) 100% possibleInstallment 2I do not recall ever hearing one word about alcohol relating to my Morgan relatives (my father's family). He comes from a sizable brood, with 7 siblings plus Grandma and Grandpa. I take this lack of comment, lack of anecdotes, to mean alcohol is not an issue for the Morgans. My father says he has never been drunk. "What, Dad, not even in the Air Force with buddies?" He says, "No. I was always in training for boxing." In addition, my father is unwilling to surrender his self-control sufficiently to become drunk. On the few occasions he has "tried it", he has not cared for the taste, nor felt a need to repeat the experience. Once, at a fine French restaurant, I saw him order a glass of non-alcoholic wine, to the server's clear disdain. He has a particular contempt for "drunks", my father. "What the hell is the matter with people? Just don't drink it!"
My beloved Granny and Grandpa O'Farrell, my mother's parents, did not have problems with alcohol. Each and every one of their 12 children is/was an alcoholic. 100%, ranging from one who had only moderate difficulty functioning in the world to the one who died in a spew of blood from cirrhosis of the liver while seated on the toilet. Then there was the handsomest, most loved of the brothers who died at age 24 having made and consumed home brew created from wood alcohol while onboard ship in the Navy. In my generation of the 40 cousins, I'd be hard pressed to say how many of us has struggled with alcohol and/or drugs. Let's say "many". Let's say "most". Let's say my favored cousin, John, was dead from all of it by age 45. Some of us, from both generations, have found the way out.
During my childhood, my parents always kept a bottle of something available for visitors who might want a drink. In my junior high years, a group of school-ditching kids descended upon my house and the kids razzed me because of the paucity of booze. No one sneaked a nip from this bottle, ever. My mother's alcoholism (her assessment of her problem, not mine) wouldn't show itself for many years. I can recall a time or two when my parents went to the holiday party given by the bank where my mother worked. My mother must have had a drink or three, because on the following day, my father was silent and disapproving. It is not my impression, even today, that she did anything as outrageous as swinging, partially clad, from the chandelier. She was just so well-positioned for embarrassment and disaster if she took even one drink.