This is a defining moment.
It’s like trying for years and years to catch waves and over and over again the waves roll over and over and sometimes I’m unable to time the drop or get up on the board or have got up but then the wave has closed out and I’m standing in still water, immobile and slowly collapse off the board into the deep or worse I get bowled over into darkness and then spat out.
Then…I can’t feel how it begins. It happens too quick. But I know I’m up. I’m standing. The nose has dropped. And I’m flying along the wall, it’s back arching over my right shoulder, helping me, just this once we are conjoined. The sea and I. In motion. A half minute. Trying and trying to make the seconds stretch.
Or those times, you know, you think you’re imagining it. A chance meeting in a bar or club or party and she wants to chat and keep chatting and you smile at the same thing and you laugh at the same time and you touch her arm and her hand brushes your’s and you wonder if it’s an accident and you still don’t know but….suddenly you’re holding hands and you’re still asking yourself ‘is this happening?’
This feels like that but bigger. Like some pre-written script I’m following.
I have to see this through. I have to see if the workings of my body and mind can be in some way returned to what they once were. Reboot the system. Find the factory settings.
It’s brought about a stark realisation: that I have had a complex habit that has lasted most of my adult life. It’s a habit that involves a 3 way relationship, a perfect, pernicious cocktail of music, alcohol and whatever other substance I was interested in or happy to invest myself in at the time. I have a memory of being alone in the North of India in 1996. I was the last traveller to cross The Rohtang Pass North and sign in at the town on the other side (the pass closes for the winter in November each year). I don’t remember much of that town. I think I was only there one night. I do remember the simple hotel room where I got drunk and stoned on cheap brandy and local charas and listened to an old mix of mine on a cassette player with an orange om sticker on the volume button. I got so wasted I fell over and knocked the back of my head on a stone shelf built into the wall. I was 22.
Yes, I know I’ve been here before but that’s because the habit of half a lifetime doesn’t just stop overnight. However this feels good. It’s been 2 weeks since a session; 2 weeks since a smoke. 2 smokes in almost a month. Small beer, some might say but this is big. It’s ENJOYABLE. This test. The novelty. And so far there have been no pangs, none of the imagined desire to be in the music, creating the flow between the music – the mix, the journey – followed by the self induced lostness deeper and deeper into its world. I know I will want it soon. I am going out tonight with Nick to listen to music. We’re meeting at 8.30. If I cross the threshold of 4 drinks then I’m lost. I turn into a different type of drinker and then I lose control and everything comes tumbling down: out comes the tobacco, then more and more and I end up listening to the music and mix the old cocktail and bring it all together and dread the morning. Can’t I be a calmer drinker? A slower drinker. That sort of fellow who says “No, I better not. Busy day tomorrow.” I can do that after 1, after 2, after 3 but how about further down the line? This is all part of the experiment and my resolve will be tested.
I need to make it til mid October, half term if possible and then regroup, evaluate and hope, hope to be able to see changes. To my tattered nerves. To my sleep.
What does Natasha McElhone say to George Clooney when they first meet in the bar in that great scene in ‘Solaris’?