It’s 1:20AM and I’m awake, I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because I can’t drink and I have never felt I needed a drink more than I need a drink now. A drink would do it. A drink would relax me, my neck muscles would untense and my shoulders fall back. With a drink I would not breathe so fast trying to suck in more air than I need like I’m doing now.
With a drink my mind would travel out of my head, float out of me like on a magic carpet with the ease of perfumed Arabian night dreams. A drink would stop me from hearing this crash of rain on a roof outside I hear in my ears yet I clearly know it is not raining outside. A drink would make me write better, unhesitant, flowing easily, not watching myself like I’m doing right now.
A drink would make me put my pride aside, say Fuckit and call her because in the drink I would know clearly how much I love her. Desperately long for her; know, in between the stumbling bathroom breaks, I can never live without her. She is everything; I’m nothing, without her.
That first burning on my tongue tip sip would take me away from here. I would not be in this room, the bed in which my grandfather died a few feet away, at 1:23AM unable to bring myself yet sober to sleep in the same bed. I will sleep in that bed.
But with a drink, best of all, I would escape this dread.
The dread of becoming something I saw as recently as this week’s Monday afternoon. The dread of becoming... Now that we are 26 and supposed to be adults. Now that we are 26 and out of university. Now that we are 26 and out of our parents’ control. Now that we are 26 and supposed to know what we’ll be doing with the rest of our lives. Now that we are 26 and our daemons can roam free. Now that we are 26… The dread. The dread of becoming NR. And NR’s not the only one.
NR 3:30pm Monday afternoon crumpled, groaning on the floor of our sitting room on a mat, retching, the windows and doors wide open for the smell to escape. NR, one of the best friends of my youth, now a stranger, bleary-eyed, numbed even to me, unable to talk, mumbling now as we walked home from the bar he had beeped me to pick him up from, four hours late for our twosome reunion because he needed just one for, “the hangover. I was going to call you but I had no credit.”
NR who with sad wistful eyes seeing the hollow where my heart used to be over the din of ordering another one from the waitress could say, “All women are bitches” and make me feel better, make me smile for the first time in a week when I had hardly slept with too much time on my hands and one girl on my mind. In Nakulabye Rhino Pub, drinking our separate sorrows away. How far I have come!
The wit is gone, the humour is gone, the fun is gone. Only your easy to hurt eyes remain and that adhesive memory that still recalls the phone numbers of people who will still buy you a drink. NR I’m afraid of becoming like you because I can still become like you, 2Pac wondering “am I falling off” when a week passes and I don’t write something because I don’t drink anymore. F.Scott Fitzgerald fooling myself I still have it under control. Ernest Hemingway seeming I do.
Richot, V&A, Johnny Walker, Amarula, Pilsner, Chairman, Eagle, Vodka, Uganda Waragi, Kwete, Dollar Gin, Bell, Liberty…. Oh Lord, names more precious than all the women and people I have loved or tried. Names not one forgotten but I don’t want to go on.
With a drink I would not worry, about anything. But I can’t drink. I don’t want to drink anymore. This is going to a long night, longer than the night when I knew she would never be mine and I dragged myself away from that window through which, standing on two perilously balanced Sadolin cans of paint, I had been peering at them until I saw her hand pulling down the zip of his trouser laughing and eager. Backed away, hurrying back to my hired boda boda rider waiting a distance away in the dusty road but before I could make it to him suddenly found myself unable to and crouched on the ground holding onto my stomach, convulsed in a wordless scream, shaking. Well, my fingers are trembling but I'm holding on. This night will be longer. But when morning comes, another day will have been born when I have not touched a drink. These four Vodka sachets in my hand will still be four, I hope.
The Queen Live: Honestly Ok by Dido