The year I worked harder than I ever have, traveled more than I ever have (usually alone), and stressed more than I ever have.
I gained fifteen pounds despite losing my balls.
I drank to the point of vomiting more times than in college and high school combined. More than once, I had to pull over while driving my car for this purpose.
I added another person to our household while adding another 12 months of failure to the quest to sell our house.
I lost my first case in 7 years.
My dad got cancer; my brother went to jail.
I doubled my income but managed to be less charitable than I was in ’09.
It was a few hours after a networking event at a bar on West Peachtree in midtown. I had decided climbing a fence into a condo complex swimming pool while in a suit at 1am when it was 40-something degrees outside would be a good idea, got kicked out by security, and then walked back to the parking garage where I’d left my car, only to find it had a rolling gate that was now down and locked. I held the metal fencing, the openings providing a blurry view of the lone car in a garage with signage clearly indicating patrons must remove their vehicles by midnight. Something about being blocked from my way home on a drunken weeknight felt so…pathetic. I began to cry.
Then, a tap on my shoulder.
voice: That your car?
me: Yeah. Why?
voice: Follow me. I can get you in there.
The voice belonged to a black man who looked twice my age and like he spent his evenings in Woodruff Park just down Peachtree. I let go of the fencing and followed him down the dark sidewalk. I reached into my left front pocket to see if I had any cash, as I was certain this guy was about to start talking about how he ran out of gas on his way to Birmingham and just needed some help filling his tank back up so he could see his family. But he never did. He led me to a place in the fence surrounding the garage that was disconnected from the concrete floor and pulled it up for us to crawl underneath. We walked into the garage and stopped next to my car.
me: Here. You didn’t ask for anything, but you helped me, and I want you to get something to eat on me. Thank you.
him: I’m good, man. Just helpin’ a fellow out, that’s all.
me: I appreciate it.
him: You okay now?
me: I…don’t know.
I’m taking Pretty Bride to Hawaii in a few days. Later in the year, I’m taking the entire family to Destin, Cape Cod, Key West, and to the cherished promised land of Alabama.
I signed up for a 10-mile hike later this month.
I bought and have read most of The Four Hour Body. Then I paid some asshole $50, climbed into this thing and had him tell me I’m 29% body fat:
I hired a full-time paralegal so I don’t work til 11pm every night.
I resigned my leadership role in the Guard for one requiring less time in uniform.
PB and I are having bi-weekly budget meetings to make sure we prioritize better this year.
I starting meeting with a mentor every week. Not a professional coach–a spiritual one.
I put my keys back in my pocket and sat down. We started talking. I don’t remember for how long or what I said, but I learned about his childhood, his past dreams and mistakes, and that the shelter he often used for sleeping on cold nights was the one I’d volunteered at a couple of Father’s Days ago.
And I realized that this guy would absolutely love to trade places with me and have my life. And that I was pissing on it.
I gave him a hug, and he left my life forever. Or so he thought.
dude. you’re a grown up right? what is with the drinking?
@mrs hall, I actually don’t do it all that often, but when I start, I have a hard time stopping. Another thing to fix this year.
i hope for you.
Beautiful..Simply touching… Thank you for sharing that. Good luck to you in 2011, but I don’t think you’ll need it.
I like reading these kinds of posts from you.
@britt, Embarrassing ones?
Great post. Happy New Year. Hope it’s a good one … for both of us.
@daddy scratches, Thanks. Ditto!
It’s not my place to offer you any advice. But I will.
Step One, dude. Step One.
And call cabs.
@honourable husband, My work wife now makes me give him my keys when we first go out to an even serving alcohol.
I stayed home and played video games. I win.
@grant, You win indeed!
Stopping by in Orlando on your way to the Keys this year, I hope. Happy 2011, and here’s to more jokes about you looking like a serial killer! 🙂
@adam, That’s actually a great idea….we’d planned to fly to Miami and then drive, but maybe we’ll add some more days to the trip and drive to your home for a day or two instead! It’ll be in the fall; I’ll let you know later in the year.
Every comment I’ve tried to type makes me sound like a moron.
So, I’m just going to say that I was here, and that I’m glad you have good people in your life.
@busy mom, You were? When? I need to read your archives, it appears.
Oh, I just meant I wanted you to know I was “here” at your blog for this (an excellent post), but I do have a similar situation with a BIL who will probably die from his alcoholism.
So… did you spend the night in your car waiting for the garage to open… or did you drive through the gate, A-Team style, and bust out of there? Dammit, man, don’t make me wait for your memoirs to know what happened!
@dave2, it was one of those magical parking garages where the gate opens when a car approaches to leave!
Well that’s disappointing.
I guess I watched entirely too much “Dukes of Hazzard” when I was young, because I expect that everybody should be driving through things and busting stuff up!
onward and upward. and that story, thanks for sharing it.
a mentor you say? I need a mentor. I’m putting that on my list for January. There: Find a mentor. 🙂
@leel, Glad I could help!
You’ve definitely got a decent life, and good people in it. Here’s to a great 2011!!
@sybil law, Thanks…I agree. You too!
I find serious Muskrat oddly disturbing.
(Great post, nonetheless.)
@SciFi Dad, Me too. Thanks-
This was nice. Except that part about how you’re drunk driving around all the time. That sounds like a problem. You should probably stop that. I think they have resolutions for that sort of thing.
@swedishskier, Yeah. Not a good habit. One I plan to quit.
Fuckin eh, bro. That shit made me get a bit weepy and shit. In a manly way, of course. You just proved once again that you are 1000% da man!!! Boo yah…
@JR, Everything you do is in a manly way, of course.
Jesus, there’s a lot happening in this post. Instead of responding to something specific, I’ll just say that I liked reading it.
Here’s to 2011: I say we show no mercy.
@didactic pirate, Just like all the tough high school kids say before the big football game in movies made during the ’80s, right?
Dude, no drinking and driving. But you know that.
Maybe 2011 will be there year we meet. Perhaps I’ll make that a goal, I have strange goals…
I am usually a lurker but wanted to say that I like reading your writing and if you keep drinking and driving, I am not going to be able to do that.
Kind of made that about me and not your wonderful family. Sorry.
Don’t become the guy who wishes he was in your shoes.