somewhere? Or laid up in a cheap motel on the outskirts of town, on a
I avoid Andy Sloth. At one meeting I slide in late and slide out early,
so he doesn’t see me. At the other meeting, he’s across the crowded room
and can’t get to me fast enough. I give him a thumbs-up and head out
the door. Still, Andy Sloth calls me a few times. He’s being the good AA
friend. He’s no Jesse. I never talk to him, but I text him back: all good,
On Friday, that glorious Friday, I wake up singing. It’s over. I had a
piss test yesterday, and it came back clean as a whistle. The court has
been notified; the charge will be changed. No DUI. I’ve got my life back.
And today, right downtown, there is Jazz on the Square! Yes, it’s what
Jesse and I talked about as a “drinking trigger,” outdoor events or festivals where alcohol is served on the street.
Every Friday in April, May, and June, the city holds Jazz on the
Square, which is right beside my office building. This is one of my favorite things. I’m not a huge jazz fan. I just like live outdoor music, no matter the flavor. I love a good street festival, the vendors and food trucks,
the anonymous crowds, and, yep, the booze. I love watching the evening
as it comes on, how the light leaves the sky, the gloaming arrives, and
the streets take on a soft glow. All the people, the total strangers, seem
tender and beautiful. You can believe that the world is kind and good. I
always stay for the whole event, waiting until every single person in the
crowd has dispersed, the band has packed up and left, and the bandstand is stark and lonely. An empty bandstand kills me.
I’ve been telling myself I can do Friday jazz sober. Sure, I can try it,
give it a shot. I’ve been telling myself this all week. I’ll have a soft drink
in my hand. I’ll sit on my blanket on the grass, sip the soda, listen to the
music, look at the sky, enjoy it just the same. This is a litany I repeat and
repeat. But just in case, tucked in my purse, is an insulated water bottle,
suitable for filling up with beer, discreetly, carefully out of view. Though
I’m not sure whom I would be hiding from.
It’s a perfect evening for outdoor jazz. I sit on the blanket. I take a sip
of the soda. Soda is fine. Tastes great. The band starts up; the musicians
are good, mellow, a good vibe. The Square is slowly filling up with people.
TGIF people. I drink the soda too fast. I’m getting that twitchy feeling. I
scan the crowd, see no one I know. I get out my money, touch the insulated bottle in my purse, and head for the table where beer and wine are