I called Dana about 4:30, and said, “I want to write about my chemical dependency class in the hospital, and it led me back to when you got your DUI. I promise you, it won’t be a slam. It will be about everything we fucking learned.” She agreed, and I said, “I LOVE YOU FOR THIS!” Yes. I told her I loved her, as I did every day and am maybe a little gun shy about it now, but I still mean it with all that I am. My next door neighbor and I were talking and I said, “I’m going to wait a year and a half or so and then ask her out again.” I am not planning on the answer. I am planning on the ask. This is because Dana and I define day in and day out love. We know it like we know the earth is round. We know it to the degree that attractions to other people don’t bother us, because we know that attractions come and go, but our love stays the same. You know why? Because I realized long ago that I have the emotional capacity to love more than one person, but I didn’t have the time or the will to manage my feelings to that degree.
I learned this by dating. I loved the ability to go out and do things with different people, but I did not like the time constraints that go with it. Jealousy ensues. There’s infighting and lots of it. As you know, Dana tends to wound me about Argo, because even though she’s a breeder, in the past Dana has even said that eventually, Argo will fall for me anyway. I laughed so hard my desk chair sagged. I have about as much chance with her as I do with Matt Damon and Oprah. I just enjoy her humor, which is good because there’s a lot of it. She throws me a bone once in a while just because she knows I fucking eat it up, but that’s the extent of it. For instance, I was talking to her about this phenomenon of bending her to my will.
“How can I decide whether I’m in love with you or not if I haven’t seen your rack? What kind of idiot do you take me for?” I laughed out loud when her reply hit my inbox.
Actually, I laughed out loud for several days over that one. I’m laughing now as I type this. It’s such a great memory that I have to pause and smile and glow because Argo gets me. I don’t have to be in love with her to love her for all she’s worth, and I sit in it constantly.
The only reason I can do this is because Dana made room. Dana and I have been through so much that even connecting with someone else on an explosive level didn’t give her much pause, but she had to sit with it for a very long time. Still sitting with it. Still sitting with anger and resentment that she thought I was trying to replace her and I thought I was trying to save her from me. Argo listened to all the thoughts I had- those moments where a quick note with an aha! Moment led to hilarity and a depth I’ve never experienced. I needed a safe place to fall, and even though Dana had her sister, she didn’t realize that I needed Argo in the same way. I needed a sounding board to vent about our issues so that I had more tools to work with in our next encounter, whether it was romantic or angry.
Of COURSE because of my history with Diane, I struggled with the difference between bff and crush because those two relationships are wired in my head to be the same. Seriously, THANKS FOR THAT. However, it was so much easier for me that Argo is straight because for her to be a lesbian would face me with an impossible choice. I needed both of them to make room for each other, because I didn’t want either to go away.
The fact that Argo and I haven’t spoken recently and Dana and I are getting a divorce is both devastating and liberating. I have been caught in this mind fuck for two years, and I am ready to be on my own. I need time to process these last seven years until I can understand them inside and out. I want an M&M (Mortality & Morbidity) that lasts years, because that is what it will take to get both of them out of my system if that is what they want our future to be. I am not holding my breath on either of them, because I have done enough. As Dana’s depression got worse and worse, I kept running to Argo for emotional support that she couldn’t give anymore because I needed her more than she needed me. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now. It is as if the mission is over with both of them. I needed them desperately at this time in my life, and though it is devastating to think what might have been, it is even more exciting thinking about what is to be.
But in order to understand the future, you have to understand the past.
Dana had imbibed a little more than normal, but I was even more fucked up so I didn’t notice and didn’t call her on it when she wanted to drive home. We went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell, so close to our apartment that when the cop started following us, we ended up in the driveway of our apartment complex, lights flashing. There is an official report in Portland somewhere that says Dana failed a field sobriety test and a Breathalyzer, and I had Taco Bell lettuce on my face.
So there’s that.
I am so drunk that I cannot even see straight and the officer asks me who I want to call. I am sobbing as I say, “Volfe.” At that point, he’s the only one I want to see and I want him to pick me up and fireman carry me to safety, as he has done so many times metaphorically. If there’s anything I miss about living in Portland, it is the proximity to my soldier.
So he comes to get me and takes me to safety and I wake up yelling, “DANA!” Volfe sits down and sighs. “Dana has been arrested and she is in jail. We have to go get her.” I have no words. The color has drained completely out of my face as I remember in bits and pieces what happened the night before. We were drinking and throwing darts, and to say it got a bit out of hand is probably accurate. We had the judgment of drunk people, which is exactly how I ended up driving Dana to the airport at 2:30 every morning for three months straight. You cannot possibly understand how inconvenient it was for me, because I hate driving. Being the only one in the family that could drive was scary and intimidating, because I couldn’t rely on her to let me check out and just run the music. I got more confidence about driving in those three months, but mostly I learned how much I love Dana.
It terrified me when Volfe and I showed up at the Multnomah County jail and Dana had been released a half hour earlier and taken the bus home. We didn’t make it in time. She thought she’d been abandoned. I was screaming inside because SHIT. I FUCKING FAILED HER. I wanted to be there to receive her, to tell her how much I loved her and how it was ok, we’d make it through, we can do anything. I did when Volfe and I arrived at the house, where she was wailing, and rightfully so.
In those moments, you need to be left to self-soothe, because it is the only thing that will really get you motivated to never let these things happen again. My AA friends let me fall against them because they knew Dana and I. We’d made a horrible mistake by taking the car home that night, but we weren’t absolute lushes. They heard the cry for help, though, and came running. I could tell them all of the things running through my mind as I felt the responsibility of caring for someone who couldn’t drive and had the worst possible choice to drive her around now. I have always had anxiety about driving with Dana in the car, because I love having her as a second pair of eyes, but she also turns into the archetype coach who teaches driver ed when we’re out and about. I am sure that I need it. I just resent it because it’s pedantic and yet necessary.
She also hates the GPS, because she likes to memorize a map and direct herself. I am not competent to roam the streets without Siri. This is not because I can’t memorize a map. It’s that if Siri didn’t remind me where I was going, I would just wander around until I got wherever I was going, which may or may not be the place I originally intended. It is serendipitous, certainly, but not so much with the direct. I use Apple Maps and Google Maps so that location is not something I have to store. I am thinking in seven different planes and the GPS takes care of one of them for me. It is marvelous.
Driving Dana in the dark made me a better person. The night crew at 7-11 became our friends. We’d stop for caffeine and most of the time for me it was coffee with cream and marshmallows. For my Portland readers, it’s the one at Powell and 65th? Somwhere around there, anyway. It’s the one that’s next to the two stop lights in a row that annoy me to this day.
Yeah, maybe I should let that one go.
I loved the way that I was able to jump in for Dana without judgment, and went to all her open classes. In fact, I paid $50 for one of them, and it was the best $50 I have spent in ten years. If there is anything you need to know about me, it’s that I am fascinated by medicine. I can read journals for fun. So when I paid my hard earned cash and sat down, a woman appeared on stage and said “I’m a nurse.” Brain. Engaged. Hyperspaaaace! She taught the class how alcohol and marijuana affect the brain during all decision-making processes and an MRI of a 22-year-old who had huge clumps of grey matter missing. Then, they brought up a guy who’d wrecked his truck by slamming into a J-wall at 75 mph. He’d worked at Fred Meyer, so the entire catalog of SKU numbers was still in his head and he couldn’t remember what he’d eaten five minutes earlier. Long term memory intact and short term memory ripped to shit. The guy couldn’t even drive because he’d forget where he was.
In my chemical dependency class in the hospital, I opened up about what it was like for me to go to AA with my friends when they were having birthdays and chairing meetings. It was finding God in the middle of the mess. The people that taught me the best way to live life is this mantra: “Son of a bitch, everything’s real” (SOBER). By that I mean that beer culture is not my culture anymore. It makes my depression worse, but it’s not like I don’t love a drink now and again. If I have $20 to go out, I am the one that will get one $15 drink instead of four or five shitty ones…. because now I know what my brain looks like. It’s losing grey matter I don’t have to lose. 🙂
Since those lectures, I haven’t drunk more than one beer out and driven home. Decision-making ability starts at the first sip. I cannot lose control like that anymore, and I do not like it. What I have learned is that I was living in a culture that’s all pubs all the time, and when I moved to Houston, it wasn’t a thing. I learned that I would rather be at home not spending money, and even though diet soda is a chemical shitstorm, it replaced alcohol as the default beverage of choice. If you move to Portland, be prepared for the onslaught of beers you’ll be asked to sample. Some people handle it well. Some people do not. However, it only took one night of bad judgment for us to say “no more” (Cue Billie Piper, will you?).
Learning ourselves in that moment was finding Gallifrey, except it had been on the TARDIS console the whole time… a round piece of glass and a slice of time.
This is just a guess, but I think it has legs. What I know for sure is that River has her finger on my lips saying, “Spoilers!”
I make my own spoilers now. I know what’s coming, and I am impressed. My Fanagans have really started getting the numbers up, which makes me feel like I must be doing something right. I think I am, because my gratitude flows like a river for those of you that know I am just taking up my space in the world and if you don’t agree with me, you have the right to say what you want. I am not entitled to your opinion unless you want to give it. Knowing it gives me strength for the next day, when I look at my tattoo and imagine the knife needed to make the blood flow. My tattoo is based on the saying, “writing is easy. You sit at the typewriter and slice open a vein.” It’s on my forearm, where I see it every day. Every day I know pieces of me leave my body and stream into this space. I can wander and wander and dream of what will be, because that is my destiny. To prepare the way for you…. not because I need to. Because God has asked, I sat with it for 20 years, and I am going to do something about it. I will no longer tolerate my indolence on this issue because if there is anything that AA has taught me it is how to be courageous……… because being courageous is nothing more than knowing yourself inside out. As I said in my chemical dependency class, “I am so jealous that I can’t go to AA because I’m a normie. Where’s the AA for people who don’t really drink and yet still can’t get their shit together?” Everyone laughed, hard, and my AAdar went off when I said that I love AA just as much as I love church, because somebody’s higher power could be Burger King and yet, it still manages to get their ego out of the way. The leader of the group smiled and said, “that’s exactly what AA is like.” She nodded at me KNOWINGLY and I met her eyes. I received her gaze with a smile, kind of like when you figure out someone’s gay and you need to let them know without words that whatever they’re about to say is ok.
And that’s what I learned from Dana’s DUI.
Everything they’re about to say is ok, and everything I say is ok, too.