I was going to bars, quite frequently. I loved, loved, loved bars. The seedier the better. Sometimes I would go out with friends and meet them at bars they liked. I couldn't get the concept of getting all dressed up to drink. One time, in one of these bars, I walked into the women's restroom and saw a couple of young women touching up their fingernail polish at the sink - and I KNEW I was in the wrong place!
I liked redneck bars and old man bars. I liked bars with great old music on the juke box - like "For the Good Times" by Ray Price. (I just found a version by Al Green that I love) I still had my job and I liked it. They liked me to and it was a good thing, because I had a little bit of a problem with attendance. When I was there I was great, but I had a problem getting there.
Because I was an alcoholic, once I took alcohol into my body, I had no idea what was going to happen to me. It might be that I would have five or six beers at home and go to bed. I would get up in the morning, feel great and go to work. I might drink the six beers and decide I really need to go to the bar. Once at the bar, I might run into a great friend and we might drink shots and stay there until closing - which I believe was 4 a.m. Or I might decide to go home with someone. Or I might pass out in the bar, or in my car. I might not be able to get to work the next day.
On Good Friday of 1973, I went to the bar with my best friend (this was almost always a recipe for disaster, she was an alcoholic just like me). We went to the old man bar in my old town. I loved that bar. She insisted we go to the young man's bar down the street. So we did. We got quite drunk. She found a ride home with someone else. At about 2 a.m., I smelled something burning, turned around and found that it was my hip length hair! I dipped it in my beer. And noticed that a group of men were laughing - they had set my hair on fire. I confronted them and found that their ringleader needed a "good talking to." Luckily not much of it actually burned. But does this sound like the beginning of a romance to you? No? Well, I guess it did to me.
I came out of the blackout sometime on Saturday afternoon driving his porsche across the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He was passed out in the passenger seat. After a little trip to the east coast, I called in sick to work on Monday and flew back to Chicago. We had a romance for a few months. He had a great job and was very very handsome. He was a worse drunk than me, and I even found it scary!
By July, I was in an AA meeting because I kept doing things that scared me and got me into trouble.
But in AA, I was greeted by people who had truly been to the depths of despair, and I knew I hadn't. I know I was welcomed warmly. I know that I was invited to peoples' homes. I know that I even went on a 12 step call! (I was, after all, sober more than a day!) I think I stuck around for a weekend. There was a man who told me what I probably wanted to hear and I hung on his words for the next 11 years. 1. You are too young. 2. You have not hit bottom.
But I left AA feeling so hopeless. I knew I had a terrible problem, but I didn't know what to do about it. So, I just drank.
I think it was in 1973 that I decided I needed to make more money, so I got a job at the Post Office of all places. I lasted 9 months. I was a window clerk and it was truly a horrible job. Whenever someone talks about "going postal" I really understand. I am unclear about exactly when this 9 months was. I know that when I started looking for another job and someone called my old boss for a reference, he hopped in his car, drove to the Post Office, lined up at my window and asked me if I wanted my old job back - with a hefty raise! Heck Yes!!!
By the end of 1973, I was 22 years old. I loved being 22. I had long straight hair still. I had a beautiful wardrobe - and some debt from it. I remember when that Porsche guy saw my closet, he asked me if my ex-husband was a millionaire! I had a pretty apartment with a lot of my original art hanging in it. There were some good things about this time, but what I remember most are the mornings - with the fear and remorse. What a way to spend your youth!