Karkki ambles into my room in the morning and tells me she has stop drinking.
“My body is falling apart. I’m sick all the time, my back hurts all the time, the joints in my spine are all loose, and now my hips are starting to crack. Our family has a history of bad backs. One person became paralyzed. I don’t want to be paralyzed. Twenty-thirty years from now I don’t want to be paralyzed. If I’m a drunk and a bum, that’s okay, but I don’t want to be paralyzed.”
I don’t like this talk. I always feel like reticent when I hear this talk. I think of how it’s partly because I don’t want to face my own drinking. Whenever a smoker talks about quitting, I get this panicky feeling like I’m going to be left alone, the last one smoking. But part of it’s also how I don’t like how people are so absolute. In the morning it’s “I’m never going to drink again,” but come evening the thought’s gone and there’s a half-full pint of beer in hand.
People fooling themselves. Eating their words. I don’t want to do this. I have a drinking problem, okay. I want to do something about it, okay. But some part of me wants to leave it at this. By swearing off drinking and then succumbing… The most immense thought in the world is “I will never smoke another cigarette for the rest of my life.”
I want to tell Karkki it doesn’t have to be either or. That her body’s falling apart is not only because of drinking. That there are reasons to why she (we) drink so often. But I keep quiet. For the first time since I can remember.