Tonight I’m laying in bed, worrying. At almost 160 pounds, I’m leaner than I can ever remember. I’m so lean I can feel every bone in my body. When I brush across my rib cage, something doesn’t feel right.
My left cage is disfigured. I must have broken it at some point in my rough and tumble life and it never healed correctly.
I was probably carrying too much body fat to be aware of it before.
Thinking this might be the end (again) my imagination kicks in, a cascade of violent life events starts playing in my head and soon weaves out of control.
This is an old familiar pattern: The Playback.
I suddenly remember how many times I fell hard on concrete when I was on alcohol and Xanax just before I went into the VA rehab unit four years ago.
I visualize the VA barracks setting, the screaming and yelling at night, the flashlights in the face every hour and being told I had to use a walker.
Then I go back and remember the beatings and injuries I sustained in my formative years. The violence in my family and on the streets. The cops, the nuns, the older kids on the corner and almost everyone who held a position of authority in my life.
My father was the first one to knock me unconscious.
Then I remember being put away at 16. I remember the brutal pounding my father gave me between floors at the Somerville Court House just before I was sentenced.
I remember Marvin Pratt, the Massachusetts State Trooper who menaced me for sexual favors for a year while I was incarcerated.
In those years I saw the Beatles come in and JFK go out.
Then I recall the draft, the confusion, the crawling around in the mud, the humiliation and falling asleep standing up.
Then, the war. The smell of gun powder. Burning villages. The killing of my friend David Hamilton south of Saigon.
The Tet Offensive felt like the end of the world. Helter Skelter for real. It was the never knowing. It was being called a baby killer at Seattle Tacoma Airport.
The confusing disappointment when I got home.
All the years of drinking heavily that followed. The bands, the drugs, the groupies, the skanky roadies, being stiffed by bar owners, Alcoholics Anonymous and then, Jesus.
I remember blowing through my retirement funds, my failed marriage, the enormous debt, the IRS coming after me, and I think to myself “what a fucking mess.”
Then there was the six day road trip out to Arizona with no money, my two little dogs and a restraining order hanging over my head.
My experiences exhaust me, exhilarate me and sometimes, depress me. But I feel I have had a full life and been privileged to be alive during such an exciting period.
With all my foolish pratfalls and fuck ups, I’m still glad I made the trip. What are we here for anyway?
If I look at everything separately, I get depressed. As any normal person would.
But it’s really been one big bus ride with a lot of interesting stops along the way.
Gotta go. Here comes my next bus. 🙂