In honor of #ThrowBackThursday, revisiting one of the first WordBowl entries while resisting the temptation to re/write and re/design! Such a loaded word, REPARATION (click for definition). I initially started scribbling a fictional piece, but the act of (hand)writing jogged a memory, which became the story I share with you here.
It remains the only WordBowl post to have been entirely conceived, written and uploaded in a bar(s).
WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from Jeffrey Q Sholemson, Chicagoan by way of Long Island, Expert Listener, and once, long ago, my college Freshman Orientation Leader.
This story is in no way in references him.
You recognize the courage it took for him to call, reach out after decades of radio silence — you heard through the collegiate grapevine he fell hard fast, cleaned up good — you have seen enough Oprah/Dr. Phi/Dr. Drew/BarbraWaWa to appreciate an addict’s narrative arc. Still, a surprise, the call, the formality of the request for a “meeting”. Not a “get-together” or “a coffee” and obviously not for “drinks”.
A meeting to make amends. To you.
You wonder what the proper preparation is for an amends, this momentous occasion not of your planning. What your role is in his story: Recipient? Protagonist? Heroine? Victim?
You notice “heroine” is only one letter but a whole world away from “heroin”.
12-Stepping, there are handbooks, guidelines, amends processes. Are there any such materials for the amendee?
Balance, you think, somewhere between sartorial sophistication and sartorial seriousness. You jettison “sexy”, despite your history of drunken fumbling in your relative youth, the two of you studying and partying with equal abandon, the late — or early, depending on the night/morning continuum — heartfelt, booze-fueled discussions which inevitably dovetailed into an unarticulated need to for a physical closeness as bared as the conversation. As if to manifest the talk.
Post-call, memories flash, flood.
You flip through your times together, legendary stories, hazy moments, half-recollections. Fragments. You try to figure out what he could possibly want to say, so you can formulate a response.
Because if the moment was so significant, a betrayal, what does it say about you, that you don’t remember?
That you do not remember them as THAT, whatever it is they see as the fulcrum of your relationship.
You wonder what your culpability is in all of this.
The night before, you go a drink too far attempting to drown out the questions arising unbidden as a result of the call. You wonder how an addict is defined, wonder where weed falls these days on the addictive substances spectrum, now that it is legal in some states. Prescription pills, legal, too. Alcohol, also legal. You live in NYC, so cigarettes are virtually illegal, sugar nearly so as well. You debate personal responsibility with your bartender as he refills your wine, gratis. You go out often, you are accustomed to the appreciation of bar staff.
On the big day, A-Day, you wear black, as you have lived in Manhattan long enough to be considered a New Yorker. You convince yourself your quavering hands are a result of too much caffeine, a day of coffee shop meetings before the main event, at a hotel the choice of which you cannot help overanalyzing.
Your high-heels click-clack on the reflective marble as you cross the lobby, he is up out of his lounge seat, waving, as you approach. He smiles a familiar smile. You reach out to shake his hand, he clasps the whole of you in an embrace, trapping your arm between both bodies.
There is no turning back now. You are in this. You are to be Amended.
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