I turned 28 last week, which I managed to celebrate in bits and snatches amidst launch preparations for this website. (My boyfriend took me to dinner and gave me a spa gift certificate which I dream of someday using, the interns decorated my desk and the office door.) It was actually one of the best birthdays of my life, somehow.
And 28 is obviousy very young, which is why it's funny to me that people have already started to make those jokes you make on 80-year-old women's birthdays, like "21 never looked so good!" and "What is it, your 19th?" Is it really supposed to be flattering for you to pretend you think I'm in my early 20s instead of my late?
Of course, people are just trying to be nice, but when you've done as many stupid things as I have, you're grateful for every year.
I had my first drink at 13, a disgusting mixture of vodka, cherry gin and Mad Dog 20/20 in a Big Gulp cup from 7/11, which was half as inebriating as the male attention that followed. Later, cocaine would give me the same magic moment of complete desirability as my first drink, with the added bonus of helping me shed pounds! Thin but love-starved, I trotted boundaryless into the welcoming arms of strange men for whom I had no feelings.
But my three-part mental checklist was born that first day -- would there be booze? Would there be boys? Would there be drugs? Otherwise what was the point, right?
When you have multiple addictions, they tell you to focus on “what’s going to kill you first.” But I don’t know, would I fall wasted onto the train tracks before I fell into the arms of a homicidal stranger? Or max out my liver before I contracted a fatal disease? All I know is that before I got sober on January 6th, 2009, I took my life into my hands near constantly. I stumbled down the NY city streets in blackouts, puked haphazardly onto the train tracks without somehow tumbling downward, passed out in public places at 3 a.m. and got into strange cars. I got into a lot of cars.
People say this a lot in recovery, I guess because it's true: There is really no reason I should be alive today. And they say God takes care of babies and drunks, but the ones who say that are the ones who survived, and there are a lot of other drunks out there who didn't, and don't get to say anything.
And again, 28 is very young, but I hope that I'll feel the same way at 38, 48, 58 and onward as I do today: very lucky to have made it this far. Because aging blows, but the alternative? Blows harder.