I like things that are bad for me. I even like them because they are bad for me – maybe more than I like the actual thing itself. “What She Said” by The Smiths always spoke to something in me.
“What she said: ‘I smoke ’cause I’m hoping for an early death, and I need to cling to something.”
The thing is, I don’t – even I didn’t – long for an early death, but I think I longed for something that was found in acting as if I didn’t care about it. Too cool for death. I don’t know. It lingers though …
… glamorous images of high stools in late night bars, tailored clothes from a black-and-white era, jazz music, coils of smoke, the clink of ice in heavy crystal, waking with louche eyes heavy with last night’s makeup, maybe an illicit breakfast cocktail sipped while dishevelled (yet still elegant) in a satin dressing gown.
Alcohol has spent centuries working on its marketing image. It’s in our culture, our literature, our sports, music and movies. And it’s really effective.
One of the things I’ve spent the past 11 weeks waking up to is how I was far more addicted to an internal vision that I had of alcohol than I ever was to alcohol itself. It wasn’t just the decadent, jazzy, I-have-no-cares-or-responsibilities vision that drew me, but also the safe-at-home relaxed one. If I tapped out the correct sequence of adult steps into the key-pad of life, then I’d gain access to an adult life. Or so I thought.
Of course, I also believed that adult = never feeling lost, never getting overwhelmed, always having the answers. Where did that message come from? Because it seems to me – and particularly while watching my parents growing oerld – that they can’t really have known what they were doing all that much either. I certainly don’t think they do now!
Somebody somewhere should warn the youth that you will always get overwhelmed. From time to time. You will always have moments where you feel lost and adrift. And that’s okay. The adult thing is that you figure it out – and you don’t just magically figure out some kind of “one true answer” – you make missteps and have false starts, you do things that are “good enough”, you have stop-gap solutions and patches, sometimes you luck out onto something that really works for you – and then get blindsided when one day that stops working. But more than anything, someone should tell us that there’s no algorithm, that you have to keep questioning and working and testing and deciding.
And if that sounds exhausting, well, maybe it is at times. But anything less is just not living.
I’m on a bit of a high this evening after having some minor success with insignificant things that I probably won’t remember in even a month’s time. (Dinner and lunch eating from children, some success with starting them writing, good time-management throughout the day, being pleased with myself for getting out for a run – if you must know. [“you” being “me”, but in the future].) I guess I should prepare myself for a crash tomorrow as a reactive pendulum swing. I don’t want to, though, I want to maintain momentum. Do all the things, perfectly, all the time. Meet my own ever escalating expectations. I want to feel smart and organised and right.
It feels so very good when things go according to plan. Somehow I feel like a better person than the person whose plans failed. That doesn’t seem like it’s very helpful. Or compassionate. Sometimes my energy will be less. Some days a million small obstacles and irritations will stand in my path. My children’s choosing to eat or not has nearly bugger all to do with me!
In a way, it’s going to be tomorrow (or the day after or whenever it happens) that I’ll truly be walking that adult path. When my day is full of false-starts and frustrations, and half the time I’m dragging an exhausted shell of a human about the place, feeling disconnected and desolate and yet still get through the requirements of the day, and still find something in me that can appreciate something out there. When I can dig deep and find an extra push, or NOPE! the hell out and exclaim that I’m not doing anymore right now – I’ll sleep, and fuck this day, but I’ll be back tomorrow.
That. That’s the day when I’m really being a grown-up.
(And I’ve already triple-booked myself by 9am tomorrow, so I can already sense what kind of day tomorrow’s going to be.)