Wow, writing this one hurt. I’m debating on whether or not to turn this in as my first workshop for that creative nonfiction class.
The worst moment in my life was a sunny Sunday afternoon, with the wind dandling the chimes hanging on my aunt’s porch. I’m hungover, and everyone knows, it’s obvious. I puked at some point last night, and my cheeks are spackled with popped blood vessels, but it’s a wink and a nod to my family. Drinking long, hard, and often is a tradition in my family, which is for the most part, surprise, surprise: Irish-Catholic. A great-grandfather, grandfather, and an uncle were all alcoholics, but whenever the Steeles get together, they drink shamelessly. This is one of those times. We were having brunch, but it ran long. My aunt Johanna kept making me mimosas.
“Hair of the dog?” She kept saying, and I would shrug, and think, why not.
So, imagine the scene. There’s my dad, stepmother, and two of my half-brothers (there are four! now). There’s my aunt, her husband, and their two kids. There’s some of my aunt’s neighbors, trying to break into the clannish in-jokes and stories. There’s one uncle, on fall break from William and Mary. Another one, and his wife, visiting from Richmond. The kitchen table’s full of congealing quiche and warm shrimp cocktails. Then there’s me, sitting on a stool in the living room, longing for a warm bed, feeling like I might puke, and sucking down prosecco and orange juice anyway.
I had been out the night before, I don’t exactly remember where, but I know who with; the usual crowd, Jeremy, Robert, Elizabeth, all of them. It might have even been the night after Homecoming or something – not prom though, even then I wasn’t stupid enough to show my face around my folks after a night like that. This was junior year of high school, and I had long graduated from smoking blunts in basements to… well, other things. I could tell some really stupid stories about vicodin and xanex. But recently, my ADHD friend Isaac had been selling me and my buddies adderall. We used to crush it up and do lines before we went out for the night: it made you really hyped, really in the mood for some hard drinking, for grinding on girls at the Jefferson, “and, dude, did you notice that you barely get hung over?”.
So I had been out the night before, drove home, and changed my clothes in preparation for the brunch I was at right now. I knew that I had bought two or three addy from Isaac the night before, but I couldn’t find them that morning. I figured we had done them all during the festivities.
Can I say, that even four years later, this shit is still making my heart race? I feel dread for past-me. I should have done so many goddamn things differently.
There are four kids crawling around on the floor, screaming, getting into things, running around, and generally being adorable little hellions. And my cousin, Cormac, who is only 14 months old, is rooting around on the floor by the living room couch. Johanna’s husband, sitting next to him, bends down and plucks something out of his mouth. I’m not paying attention, trying to keep my eyelids from sliding shut.
“What’s this?” he asks, his voice tinged with something off.
There are two P.H.ds and a grad student in the room. They figure it out quick.
“It’s some kind of pill. Look it up on drugs.com.”
I’m listening now, but I’m not sure what I’m hearing. They’re talking so fast. My eyes are wide open.
“That’s amphetamine salt, Adderall. Cormac had that? How?”
Sitting on that stupid fucking stool with umber evening light streaming through the bay window behind me, the wind chimes binging away, sun hot on the back of my button-down, the scent of frozen shrimp sticking in the back of my throat. That’s it. The worst moment of my life.