As the plane approached Albuquerque, it started to buck and roll with turbulence. It was the kind where the pilot tells the flight attendants to take their seats. Fucking great. Wings tipping. Seats shaking. Deep drops and soul rolls. Here and there, some involuntary yelps from passengers.
Once from here, for sure. It sounded like someone stepped on a puppy. Couldn’t contain it. Just slipped out.
It’s not my favorite thing, doing turbulence, not drunk.
There are only a few things that I can say are better done drunk than sober. The first is, of course, dancing. Especially if you’re white. The second is getting arrested. Tried it both ways, and it was better drunk. The last thing is bouncing around violently in a tube of aluminum, thousands of feet from the earth.
If I could have my choice, I’d always prefer to do that drunk. While I know it’s better for me to not be drunk during times like these, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t easier shit-hammered out of my gourd.
I used to walk down the aisle to get to more booze, the plane’s shaking counteracting my stumbling so that I’m stepping straight, and make announcements to my fellow passengers.
“This is a great day to die!” “We’re all going to die anyway. Let’s fucking get it over with.” “Death can’t be worse than tomorrow morning!”
Stuff like that. In my head I was keeping up everyone’s morale. I wanted my lack of fear to inspire them. To give them the courage to plunge to their deaths stoically. Bravely. Resolutely. Even joyfully.
You know, shit-faced drunkenly.
If there’s ever a situation that I really can see myself blowing my sobriety, it’s on an airplane that’s going down. If the cocktail cart starts rolling down the aisle as we plummet, I’d like to say I wouldn’t stick my foot out to stop it. That I would choose to die sober. Locked in solemn prayer. Instead of trying to shot-gun down as many miniatures as possible… before our fiery wreckage scatters across a sewage treatment facility. Or a field of beets.
But I really can’t. I can’t be sure I wouldn’t drink. As an alcoholic, you never can be… too sure. It’s the nature of the disease.
For now, I was content to sit quietly in my seat. Asshole, fists and teeth clenched. Locked in solemn prayer. First to The Creator. Then on down the spiritual hierarchy. I’m going through arch angels, regular angels, Kerubim, avatars, saints, sages, ascended masters, Buddhist holy men, Kabbalistic wise men.
I’m beseeching mercy like a mother.
My girlfriend is gripping my hand numb. She’s a Christian, so she’s talking to Jesus. Not a bad call to make. I’ve dialed that hotline myself. Quite a few times. More than this heretic would care to admit. What can I say? He comes through, but sometimes I think because his phone is constantly blowing up with requests he gets overworked. So I prefer to add a whole bunch of other spiritual beings to my emergency Rolodex. Find somebody with more of a gap in their workload. Somebody standing around waiting to get a call. And maybe one who specializes in turbulence.
Like the Enochian Angel of the Element of Air. He who raises and calms the storms. He who protects air of Air. Ardza, may Your holy name reflect the ineffable glory of God through eternity. Help reveal to us His mercy. Help calm the storm around us. Help calm the storm in this humble creature’s mind. Amen.
I look over to Lori. She’s got her eye’s closed tight.
“We’re going to be okay,” I tell her. I pat her white, bloodless hand and smile.
She opens her eyes and tries to stretch her grimace into a happy face. Fails. Goes back to talking with The Son of God. Eyes closed.
I don’t blame her. I don’t get all hurt if she wants to talk to some other guy. I’m confidant in our relationship. Besides, this is Jesus. So I’m totally cool with her dividing her attention, especially at a time like now.
Another dip. My guts bang against my throat. They push out a whistling whimper through my teeth. Not a yelp. A whimper. Big difference. Then another drop. A long, deep one. I pictured the altimeter spinning.
I add Jesus to my list.
“Hey. It’s me, Marius. I know we don’t talk too much these days, but I’m always thinking about You. Remember when I was thirteen and I scared myself into thinking I had a brain tumor and I held my illustrated children’s bible and turned my life over to you? Well, I never officially took it back. Even though some of my life choices might have made it seem that way. Well, out of anybody, you’re the go-to guy for forgiveness, so we should be cool. Right? Always dug your message. Just didn’t, you know, dig all the dogma that barnacled around it. Anyway, if I do die, could you make sure I go to heaven? And preferably not a weird part of it, like the Mormon’s version…
I felt better right away. Covered all my bases. I gave my girlfriend another smile. This time a real one.
What is death but the unknown? I seem to be hurtling towards that all the time. The Unknown. And Death. The death of something, at least. In my life and all around me. Something dies deader than dead. And then, sure as shit, something else is born. Usually something new and improved. In my life, and all around me.
I thought my life was over when I had to quit drinking. In a way, it was. That life died. But I don’t mourn it.
Because I got an upgrade.
It happens in other areas. Everyday, I see parts of me die off. Not like parts parts. Oh God forbid. I don’t know who would be appropriate to pray to for a certain special part not to die off. Priapus? No, I mean parts of my personality. Parts I don’t mind shit-canning. The parts that were spawned in fear. Ugly parts. Parts that have worn out their welcome.
I try to replace those parts with the ones born out of love. Nicer parts. Shinier ones.
That’s the plan at least. I don’t know how well I’m doing sometimes. But dude is trying. I’m willing to go through the complete overhaul. Whatever it takes. I want to be a new and improved version. I have this nagging need to feel that Whoever/Whatever created me, is proud of Their creation. Cornball shit, I know. But there it is. For real.
The engine screamed in reverse as the wheels touched down. The cabin clattered like crazy then stopped. We made it. As we taxied to our terminal I took a deep breath. Everything was going to be okay. It always is. No matter how scared I get. If I can remember that, I can keep the yelping to a minimum. Like with this flight. Only one. One audible one. That’s pretty good. I’m definitely improving.
Yeah. This was going to be a good trip. I kissed Lori’s cold hand. Then waited for the seat belt light to go off.