With Homage to Bill W
Punk Rock Fever ran high in the small New England town of Provincetown. Three college classes short of graduation from Kent State, I had just decided I was ready to join the other young punks and artists who had fled to Land’s End. We were flattered when the first locals brought us to their places for “sleepovers,” making us feel like the rock stars we aspired to become. Here was applause, love, streetlights, and moments sublime with hilarious intervals. I had found my new family, rebels, crackpots, and one of my personal favorites: fallen women. At nights on the way home from the bars we would sometimes pass through the cemetery. The tombs were old, from the 1600s, and the creepy bas reliefs of skull and crossbones only made me feel more alive.
Creepy bas reliefs of skull and crossbones only made me feel more alive
I was 22 when I got to Provincetown, and found myself the leader of a band. young and ambitious, my bandmates and I knew we would be huge rockstars as long as we kept living the lifestyle. Lots of gigs, wild clothes, excessive promiscuity and all the booze we could get into our systems. We had many friends who hung around with us. They had the same ideas on how life should be run, and we engaged in a little vandalism, and once stole a five-foot-tall Virgin Mary from the town hall creche. We put a strobe light inside her, and brought her on stage. Now P-town is an artist colony at the very tip of Cape Cod, and the wild way of life was the norm. I was finally home.
I had had some success in high school, but always for nerdy things: holder of the track record in the half mile, editor of the school magazine, student council, that kind of stuff. I had tried drinking in high school and loved it. Alcohol helped me feel temporarily liberated from my father’s strict household. I didn’t start drinking seriously though until after leaving my folks and going to college. My intake went to another level on the cape. Drinking and running amok served me well for a few years. I finally became one the “cool” people, and they wanted to befriend me because I was a flamboyant musician, who was up for anything. Just like Bill, I felt that I had “arrived.”
Alcohol was my higher power
Then I arrived at the town jail a couple times and things got worse. I wasn’t drinking to celebrate so much. Alcohol was a maintenance chemical to keep my body at its new unhealthy equilibrium. Also, I wasn’t making a lot of money so financially I had to make sacrifices. A night in the county jail can wreak havoc on one’s self worth, the same way Bill’s bender ruined his stock opportunity in 1932.
Bill craved drinks when he wasn’t drinking and felt remorseful afterwards. I too experienced this like Bill; I promised my partner I was done with alcohol. Like Bill, shortly afterward I came home drunk. Bill tried to control his drinking, as I did, but it wouldn’t work. I considered how I couldn’t live this way and considered taking my own life, and fortunately was a failure at that as well. Alcohol was my higher power.
My sobriety date is May 10, 2021, after “too many relapses to count.” I attended my first AA meeting in 1979 at age 17.