Monday morning I spend no less than thirty minutes in the kitchen at work talking with my coworkers. Everyone is updating one another on their weekend activities.
My statement: “Oh, I just took it easy…went to a party, did some housework, you know…the usual.”
I assume that saying “Oh, well, I dropped some acid and then I took some pills and then I walked around the Loop ALONE at 3 am…you know, the usual” will not benefit my career.
“Mostly I just squashed down my true feelings and pretended my boyfriend–you know, the one that kinda maybe somewhat drove me to try to kill myself? Well, anyway…I spent a big chunk of the weekend pretending that he didn’t hook up with some skanky girl Friday night. I mean, I don’t know for certain if he did or did not, because I just decided to avoid the subject altogether. Why rock the boat, right? So mostly I just had a stomachache and secretly chain-smoked in the bathroom while he was sleeping. Yeah, the usual.”
I cannot my imagine my boss calling me into his office to say, “Your inability to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and general foolishness is indicative of a true go-getter. Here’s a promotion and an enormous raise.”
“We’re looking for someone with an aptitude for never, ever expressing their true feelings. Someone who can internalize stress like a real champ…an individual that can avoid confrontation at all costs. And that person is you! Here’s a key to the company car!”
I would probably be president of the company by now. Corner office, glamorous assistant, maybe even a private jet or two. Definitely a vacation house in Cabo or wherever the upper class like to spend their leisure time.
When I return to my desk to do some actual work, I am seized by a sense of panic. The next four days will pass at lightening speed, and then once again, it will be Friday. And Saturday. And then, just like every other weekend of the past year, I will find myself reluctantly swimming in a sea of substance abuse. I am starting to realize that saying “no” is an impossible feat.
I need to get out of town. But where? And really, wouldn’t it be good to take Ryan along? God knows he needs to dry out a little bit. If I leave him here, he will have three new girlfriends by Sunday.
And then I remember–a grown up friend of mine has a lakefront house in Michigan. I have an open invitation to go up there any time, since she and her family rarely use it.
A few phone calls and some mild twisting of Ryan’s arm…and plans are made.
I can breathe easily for the next few days.
I take a half day on Friday, spending the afternoon buying groceries and packing up all of the necessary ingredients for a good weekend: movies, Scrabble, cds. Neither coffee nor cigarettes find a place in my bags. Ryan hates both and I really want to set a good example. “Look, it is so easy to discard one’s bad habits. “
The drive to Michigan is tense, at best. Ryan is unwilling to share control of the car stereo. As a result, I am assaulted by too-loud reggae. Not my first pick. Possibly not even my last pick. Ryan’s pissed because he made him leave behind his plastic bag of assorted purloined pharmaceuticals. We speak to one another only when absolutely necessary.
“Use exit 8.”
“No, the directions definitely say ‘turn left.’”
“I have change for the tolls.”
The house is cold and dark when we arrive. I know that the lake is somewhere out there, but I can’t see a thing. I can sense that Ryan is underwhelmed, so I compensate by making overly cheery exclamations.
“Look at this! It’s a real A-frame house! My favorite!”
“Wow! A fireplace…this will be cozy!”
“Did you see the size of that bathtub?”
I scurry around fiddling with thermostats and flipping light switches. Ryan locks himself in the bathroom for an uncomfortably long time. When he emerges, he looks suspiciously sleepy. I tell myself that he had a long day at work.
After we unload the car, we find ourselves shuffling aimlessly around the living room. Ryan flops down on the couch. I sit next to him. The silence is agonizing.
This is going to be a long weekend.