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Crossroads, Chapter 2

On July 2, 2017, I made the decision to stop drinking. I wanted to share the story of how I came to this decision. In order to do that, I needed to go back to the beginning. If you missed those posts, you can catch up here:

Chapter 1        

 

Chapter 2

My brother began chemo and radiation treatments shortly after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

He would go into remission only to relapse a short time later. This happened more than once.

Eventually he  reached the point where the chemo wasn’t working at all, and there was one final option left.

A bone marrow transplant.

It was a Hail Mary.

If it worked, it would save his life.

If it didn’t, he would die.

At the time, I was a sophomore in high school. The bone marrow transplant would be done  across the country in Seattle, Washington.

We lived in a really wealthy town in Fairfield County, Connecticut.  The two acres my parents built our house on was a gift from my great grandparents. My great grandfather had a farm back in the day, and the property he gave my mom and dad was part of what  had once been the apple orchard.

So for $30,000, my dad built our house from a kit with the help of my uncles in 1974. It was a small, three bedroom, 1  1/2 bath house.

My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad was a mechanic.

It was next to impossible to afford to live in the town I grew up in on my father’s salary.

But my parents were frugal and good with their money, and with the generous  gift from my great grandparents, they managed to make it work.

But they did not have the money to go to Seattle for my brother’s bone marrow transplant.

He’d need to be there for about four months. My mom, understandably, did not want to go across the country alone with my brother.  But there was no way my dad could afford to stop working for four months.

Nowadays, a GoFundMe campaign would have been started. But back in 1984, there was no GoFundMe.

There wasn’t even an internet yet.

That didn’t stop my parents’ friends and family. They rallied together and organized a fundraiser for my brother. It would be a night of fun. Dinner. Raffles. Auctions.  They were gonna do everything they could to raise enough money for both of my parents to be able to make the trip to Seattle together.

It was kind of a big deal for my family. I was fifteen at the time. My younger brother was thirteen. I remember being so excited.

Until my parents told me they weren’t letting us go to the fundraiser.

My younger brother and I would stay home and babysit my baby brother.

Thirty-five years later, I am not knocking my parents. I know they had their reasons for not allowing me to go. And who knows what the fuck I would do if I were in their shoes. I can’t even imagine.

But I was crushed. I was sad.

And I was really fucking mad.

All of my relatives would be there. My cousin, who was one of my best friends and only two years older than I am would be there with her boyfriend.

I did not understand why I couldn’t be there. Why I couldn’t be a part of it. Why I wasn’t included.

My great grandmother lived right through the woods behind our house on part of what used to be the farm she and my great grandfather had. It was probably 100 yards from our back door to her front door.

A few months earlier, she had gone into a nursing home. Her house was up for sale, but nobody had made any offers yet.

And so, on the night of the fundraiser, as soon as my parents left the house, I did what any level-headed kid would do.

I had a party at my great grandmother’s house.

 

I’m not sure how I managed to make it happen, but my friends bought food and beer and we got drunk at great grandms’s. We smoked on the front porch and riddled her yard with cigarette butts.  

I left my thirteen-year-old brother at home with my baby brother with instructions to come up to Nanny’s house if anything should happen.

At one point my baby brother woke up. His name was Christopher.

My younger brother, Eric, got a hold of me.

I ran home through the woods.

I got Christopher out of his crib, sat in the rocking chair with him, and rocked him until he fell back asleep.

I don’t remember most of the things that happened during this time in my life, but I remember those thirty minutes as clear as day.

Once I got Christopher back into bed, I hurried back to Nanny’s house. The rest of the night is fuzzy except for a couple moments.

I remember dancing to Rick James’s Superfreak on the flagstone floor in the breezeway.

And I remember ending up in the driveway in the back of a Jeep making out with Sam, the same guy who had given me my first completely unromantic kiss in the leaves behind a stone wall a few weeks earlier.

And while we were out there, out of nowhere, two people in fancy clothes banged on the window and scared the crap out of us.

Holy shit. My parents!

Sam and I bolted straight up and then he hesitantly opened the door of the Jeep.

It was late and dark out so we couldn’t really see much.

But boy were we relieved when we realized it was my cousin and her boyfriend standing there. They had left the fundraiser a little early.

And they were pretty impressed with my ballsiness. (Is that a word?)

I won’t lie.

Being the bad girl, the rebel, the hey-mom-and-dad-I’ll-teach-you-to-leave-me-stuck-at-home-kid was a major rush.

My dumbfounded but impressed cousin and her boyfriend helped me to get the party cleaned up as my parents were going to be home before too long.

We got everybody out and got the place cleaned up, and I was in my bed before my parents got home.

They never knew anything.

At least I thought they didn’t.

It would be a couple weeks later when I would retroactively get busted for having a rager at my great grandmother’s house.

But it didn’t really matter.

I had discovered alcohol, for the first time ever I officially had a boyfriend and I was no longer a good girl.

All this helped me forget what was going on with my brother, and it helped me give a big finger to my parents.

And I didn’t have plans to stop doing any of it any time soon.

 

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And the rest, as they say, is history.

Back in my single days,

I used to go out for happy hour on a fairly regular basis.

Most Fridays I went to this place called Dry Dock with a bunch of other teachers.

It was my “Cheers.”

After a couple years, I got to know the regulars.

I had become one of them myself.

And I got to know the owner.

He was old.

We were young.

We’d flirt with him a little, and he’d give us free shots.

My last year of teaching, at the beginning of the school year on a Friday in early September, a large group of us went to Dry Dock.

The weather was still nice.

I had on a cute little sundress and some platformy wedge sandals.

The owner was already there.

I gave him a yell, and a hug, and he sent over a free round of buttery nipples.

At the time, I loved those things.

The smell of them alone would probably send me into a fit of dry-heaving spasms now.

Nine free rounds of shots later,

yes,

nine,

my friend and I decided to take the party somewhere else.

Well, actually, my friend decided.

I was ready to go home.

But there is this thing called Oysterfest here in CT in the beginning of September.

It’s a 2 or 3-day extravaganza where they have bands,

and booze.

And oysters.

There was a band playing that night that my friend really liked, and she begged me to go.

So I went.

By the time we got there, the weather had cooled down.

I was still in my little sundress and sandals.

It must have rained the day or two before.

The ground was a little wet.

Plus you know how it is at these things.

Crap gets spilled, and so many people are walking around that the ground turns into a muddy mess.

I wasn’t wearing the appropriate footwear.

So I took my shoes off and walked around barefoot carrying my sandals.

By the end of the night I was freezing, and I was covered in mud up to about my knees.

I wasn’t feeling any pain, though. If you know what I mean.

The next day  was a different story.

I was hurting.

Big time.

I had decided that I was staying in my pajamas, parking my ass on the couch, and watching a Real World marathon until I could function again.

My cousin was in the process of getting a divorce at the time, and she was back out on the market.

I had kind of become her wingman.

She had met a guy she was interested in, and he was going to be at Oysterfest that night.

She called early that afternoon.

I didn’t answer the phone. I let the answering machine get it.

Beeeeep…Hi Suse. I’m going to Oysterfest tonight. I really want you to come with me. …..

Ugh.

I had no desire to be around alcohol.

Or people.

I ignored the call.

As well as the second one that came from her about 30 minutes later.

I was going to continue to remain in seclusion.

But then, I ran out of cigarettes.

I was a pretty serious smoker at that time.

I was going to have to leave my little cocoon of a condo.

I upgraded my outfit to sweats, and I drove to the gas station.

I got my smokes,

got back in the car,

stopped at a light,

heard someone yell something,

looked over at the car next to me,

and saw,

my cousin.

Fuck.

She motioned for me to pull over.

And somehow, she worked her magic on me, and she convinced me to go to Oysterfest.

Again.

She followed me home.

I think I showered.

But I put on jeans and a fleece and my Merrells.

I was not going to freeze my ass off again.

Or walk around drunk and barefoot in the mud.

Now Oysterfest is down the road from a street full of bars in South Norwalk.

Some of them have dress codes.

Like no jeans.

People are all about the scene down there.

Dressed all sparkly.

And hoochy.

Ready for action.

I was dressed appropriately for Oysterfest.

But not for the SoNo bars.

Which, of course, is exactly where my cousin wanted to go when Oysterfest ended at 10 or 11 that night.

Damn you cigarettes. Now look at the mess you’ve gotten me into.

I didn’t drive that night. My cousin did.

So I was trapped. I had no way to get home.

And off to the bars we went.

I was mortified.

Never, ever, in a million years would I have gone onto the single scene in the outfit I was wearing.

I felt like…

a mom.

So we went to this bar called the Loft.

I used to go there fairly often, too.

But not dressed in hiking attire.

I was not feeling too confident.

Or sexy.

Which is pretty much the look you are going for at the Loft.

There is a little upper level there — a  loft –– and as soon as we walked in the door, we headed directly up to it.

There was a group of 5 or 6 of us.

I hid up there where not so many people would see me.

But after a few beers, I had to pee.

And the Loft is one of those places that has one tiny bathroom.

For like 200 girls.

Which means it always has a really long line.

So my cousin and I went down and got in line.

There is a little seating area just outside where the bathrooms are with some bench seats against the wall and a couple little tables and chairs.

While you stand in that line, you can’t really help but check out the people in that area.

So we were waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And I looked around at the people sitting down there.

And then,

I saw this guy.

I couldn’t stop looking at him.

I elbowed my cousin.

“Don’t look now,” I said.

“But there is a dude sitting over there who is the

hottest

guy

I’ve ever

seen.”

I waited until it was safe, and I told her to look.

She agreed he was attractive.

But I wasn’t kidding.

He was a specimen.

And he was sitting all alone.

He must have been there with his girlfriend.

She must have been in line. Waiting to pee.

I couldn’t stop looking.

I kept waiting for the girlfriend to appear.

After a few minutes, he was still sitting alone.

I contemplated going over there.

But I was dressed like a lumberjack.

Of all nights. I see the hottest guy ever, and I’m dressed in the not hottest ensemble ever.

But I had some liquid courage in me.

Eh. Fuck it.

“I’ll be right back,” I told my cousin.

And I went over and plopped myself right next to him.

“Why are you sitting here all alone?” I asked him.

“I don’t know… I guess I’m shy,” he answered.

I told him not to go anywhere, said I’d be right back, jumped back in line with my cousin, went in and peed, checked myself in the mirror, and rushed out of the bathroom.

I was sure he’d be gone.

But he was still there.

And he was still alone.

So I sat back down next to him.

“Hi. I”m Susie.”

And that is the story,

of how

I met

my husband.

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