Baltimore, 1998

I suppose there’s always a lesson to be learned, whether in a filthy dive bar or over tea in a teahouse, whether in sweaty socks in a high school gym or walking onto stage in a vaunted theater, there’s always some lesson to be gleaned, whether it is for you or against you, whether it is exactly what you want to hear or it devastates you, it is going to be there, regardless.  Take, for example, standing on the balcony level of a thumping bar in Baltimore, peering down at the crowded dance floor below, my head already swirled with gin, watching three of my friends dance in a group, turning sluringly to the young girl next to me, who I’d never met or even spoken to before, Hey!  That one down there, with the orange hat?  Do you find him attractive?  Women are always into him instead of me, and when she grimaces and turns from me wordlessly, I amble over to the balcony bar, order a double of the top-shelf stuff, and settle into a corner table alone.  Even in my youth I saw this not as a lesson in the unfairness of having friends more desirable than yourself, or being a bad dancer or lacking social graces, but as a gut-punch reality check about a path I was trodding from which I could not return.  But what else did I know as the waitress lit the candle on my round table in the dark?  What did I know about anything?

2 Responses to “Baltimore, 1998”

  1. Ahhhh, but you DID really know. You got the message and similar messages like it. You processed them over time and used them to become the better person that you are today. And I am very proud of you. Lots of folks go through life without assimilating any of these life messages. Always blaming their fates on things that they cannot control – so they think, and thus never improving themselves.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Very true Daddio, and thank you for the affirming message! One can never hear their parents say they are proud of them too many times <3 I'm not sure why I chose to write about this small moment, but it is one of the seemingly insignificant memories of my drinking that I frequently come back to, even though there isn't really much of a story there. But as I was looking back on it, I was surprised that (at least in my memory), I DID already know what was wrong with me, with still about five years until sobriety! I'm so glad I was able to nip it in the bud–with help from you and mom and good friends :)

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