One Year Sober.

The Gonzo Journals

April 28th, 2023

I’m going to be honest. Yes, I know I’m normally honest in my Gonzo Journal but, this time, I’m going to be BRUTALLY honest. In the immortal words of Dante Hicks, “I’m not even supposed to be here today.” That’s a Clerks reference, in case you didn’t know. Educate yourself via the great Kevin Smith.

Seven years ago, I walked away from everyone and everything I knew. My hometown, my friends, my marriage, my little slice of heaven in the country, and my dog. It all happened so suddenly; I didn’t even realize the damage I’d done to a lot of people until years later.

I hadn’t been a fan of my hometown since returning from the Army in April of 2000. A couple of years’ worth of constant traveling and an extended stay in Southern California opened my eyes even more. I spent nineteen years surrounded by an increasing number of racists and homophobes and it all just added fuel to the fire already burning inside me. All you need is love, yet little love was offered to anyone on the color spectrum who didn’t orgasm by licking the church steps. I walked away from an eleven-year career in law enforcement because I was target by a Klan recruiter disguised as a public official. Yes, when I say “Klan”, I mean THE KLAN. That shit is still alive and well back home, and that’s why you always pay attention to the shoes they wear. They rarely change their shoes when they don the sheets and hoods.

I don’t think I walked away from friends as much as they chose to walk away from me. I totally don’t blame them. In my continuous drunken state, I managed to land in a two year long secret affair with a friend’s wife who rode the “don’t worry, I’m leaving him” roller coaster until the wheels fell off. I tired of the emotional damage after those two years and took it upon myself to leave. She revealed she was hooked up with a coworker a couple of weeks later and they got married. Sounds like I was the poster child for the bad while someone else enjoyed the good, if any ever existed. I was the Rick Springfield of my friend circle, and that’s nothing to brag about. Between that, the ignorant beliefs of my hometown during the pandemic, and the even more ignorant belief that Donald Trump planned to personally gift blow jobs to everyone in The South, I have a single friend left. I think. I’m not sure. He’s the kind of guy who isn’t all needy. He doesn’t call to gossip.

The marriage? She’d been my bestie since my teenage years and the great niece of Lon Chaney Jr. Not a bad connection to have as a horror writer. The biggest mistake we ever made was taking things to the next level. That, too, was my fault. I drove that horse, and it threw a shoe somewhere along the way. I really sucked at this ‘life’ thing. I walked away in a split-second decision and never looked back.

My plan? I’d traveled to New York City over 50 times in a five-year period and I knew that was where I wanted to end it all. Surrounded by complete strangers who wouldn’t mourn me or raise a stink about my sudden departure. I’d just be another lost soul in a jungle of endless concrete. I was going to write and drink myself to death in a Brooklyn apartment that belonged to a certain Grammy nominated singer/songwriter who’d relocated to a better place. The wheels were turning, and I had it all worked out. It was my secret plan to end my life in a Hunter S. Thompson blaze of glory. I planned to write myself into the grave. I was so close.

Then, I met Sam.

We worked five feet away from each other and she hated me at first. We argued about everything from relationship beliefs, politics, to movies. The was truly the most motivated and independent woman I’d ever met, and she frightened me.

One day she invited me to lunch, and I continuously checked under the table for a gun or a knife. She didn’t kill me, and a new friendship began. Not long after that, she drove all the way to “the blackest land; the whitest people” (Google it) to sing karaoke with me. Two weeks after that, She and I decided to overlook the 17-year age gap in our lives and take a shot. I am still unworthy of this woman’s love, but she keeps coming home every afternoon. It makes me wonder who in the hell I am and what she sees in me.

My drinking turned from casual to “out of control” once more during the pandemic, and she brought it to my attention. I told her that I’ve never loved myself enough to stop and, the only way I’d be successful is for her to ask me to put down the bottle forever. She did, and the rest is history. That was one year ago today.

Photo by Vijay Putra on

This is the longest I’ve gone without a drop of alcohol since I was age 13. I was one of those kids you used to skateboard around the apartment complex drinking a wine cooler I’d stolen from the fridge. Then, it was Jack Daniels in a friend’s tree house. High School came and went with rarely a sober trip down the main cruising strip. Finally, graduation, divorce, Army, divorce, career, divorce, travel, pandemic…

Depression? What’s that? I’m time jumping on some additional negative details, but you get the just of it all.

I’m not even supposed to be here today. I’m supposed to be a vomit stain on a bed sheet carelessly discarded in a Brooklyn dumpster, and a book in the library written by someone destined to be forgotten. If anything, I’d be an interesting headstone in my hometown cemetery where my minuscule fanbase would party on Saturday nights and conceive prom night babies on a dare. A hometown legacy, so to speak, which doesn’t involve any values embraced by my hometown. Publicly, anyway.

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Love saved me. Quite possibly the only love I was ever involved with that didn’t start and end with infidelity. It’s a depressing thought knowing that every other meaningful relationship I’d endured in my life began with someone cheating on someone else with me. When people got their cake and ate it, too…I was their “ate it, too”. For the first time, I was “the cake”.

I’m still proud to be “the cake” after four years.

I owe my life to my wife Samantha. I’m a used up, washed out, leftover of a man, but she believes in me. Some would say others got the best years of me as I squandered precious breaths on their behalf. She, on the other hand, believes that my best years are ahead of me. I’m not sure who’s right, but I hope it’s her. At least I’ll be able to enjoy those years with a clear head.

The world may be burning, but I’m clear headed enough to scale the mountain, take a seat, bring forth the marshmallows, and watch the flames dance erratically in a display of finality. She’ll be the one who remembered to bring the gasoline. That’s my girl.

Notice I didn’t say anything regarding my current Six Flags fiasco? All good things to those who wait…



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