San Diego I spent last night, a Friday night, in a Motel 6 somewhere off I-5. I don't know where exactly, but it is right around the corner from that mock Dutch windmill you see from the freeway. What I was doing there was giving my son a break from me. We fought like spiteful children that Friday afternoon, and we never had before. Ever. Not in three decades. Words were shouted, hissed, and hurled: "Why don't you just go to the hospital and ask them for heroin?" This was after I asked him for the second time for Ambien for my insomnia. He considered me a drug addict because I needed two to sleep. I had also asked his friend for a half of a Seroquel, so maybe he had a point. I don't consider myself a drug addict at all, so I took great offense. Maybe I am, though. Maybe I am. I suppose it is likely that many drug addicts do not think of themselves as such. I've chronicled my drinking enough here, but I just don't take many drugs so... I had been staying with him (at his invitation) for several days while I was in between more permanent places to stay. I called him a liar. He told me, "Fuck you!" and he never uses foul language. It escalated until it became clear the situation in the small apartment was untenable. His mother intervened and took me to the motel.
Once inside, I watched television for the first time in months and found that Newton Minnow (Remember him? Not if you're under 50, most likely) was correct when he called the medium a "vast wasteland." I watched inane crap anyway while I grieved over the fact that my son had told me that I was not the man he wanted me to be. He said, "I guess I wanted you to be like a superhero or something." He was quite serious. He has a childlike mind very often. He certainly wasn't making a joke or being ironic.
I managed little sleep, and I had nine dollars so I walked to a nearby
7-Eleven and bought a pack of cigarettes (after having quit six weeks earlier) and a liter of ginger ale. I alternated the ginger ale with Maalox. It was not until the early hours, say three or four a.m., while watching Jerry Maguire or maybe Bridget Jones' Diary and yet not watching them, that I remembered to pray. God occupied few -- no, none of my thoughts for days, maybe weeks on end. I remembered I had a rosary given to me by someone while I was asleep in the hospital a few weeks earlier. I have no idea who the benefactor might have been. At any rate, I dug it out of my backpack, where I had placed it for luck or something. I just held it for a while, said, I think, two prayers, and became distracted by my sudden and ravenous hunger.
Not a thing I could do about it, naturally, except smoke.
Now, this is not meant necessarily for the Catholic presses or any other inspirational publications. It is just what happened. I knew I had a hundred or so in the bank, but the nearest branch was miles away, and I had lost my ATM card weeks ago, along with my ID and other items from my wallet. This happened in a blackout in Mexico. The repetition of the words "weeks ago" stems from the timeframe when my life turned to shit from drinking again.
Somewhere in the middle of a fairly interesting movie about Roger Maris (directed by Billy Crystal), I reached into my back pocket and discovered my ATM card. To describe the astonishment I experienced (as I had been wearing those pants on and off for, yes, weeks) would require another 200 words or so. Miraculously, I remembered my PIN number and wasted no time getting back to the 7-Eleven, where I was pretty sure there would be a cash machine. There was. I withdrew $100, bought a small carton of milk, then went next door to Subway for a six-inch club sandwich with guacamole. I'm sure I was shaking with relief and walking very, very quickly back to Motel 6.
Something else I'm sure of was that I was near tears with relief. When you're broke, in a motel, hungry, and you're pretty sure your only son hates you, and you have no real prospects of a place to live after check-out time, one can easily weep for oneself. That is, if one is inclined that way, and I am. A small miracle, easily attributed to prayer, can add to this state.
Once back in the room, eating too quickly, I decided to call my son to test the waters. He told me, "Come on back, Dad. All is forgiven." That's when I lost it. I called his mother, and she was willing to fetch me that Saturday morning.
At the moment he is playing video games behind me. He tells me he is very pleased I am here, working across from him, and that he is very sorry for his behavior. Between my apologies and his, it is much like some Laurel and Hardy routine.
We will be making chicken pasta together.