Goal #147) Stand at the Center of Stonehenge

Something about Stonehenge has always captured my imagination.

When I added this goal to my list, like most of my goals, I didn’t want to just go and look … I wanted to immerse myself in the experience. I wanted to stand inside the stones and be surrounded by them.

Last month I went to England and took a tour of Stonehenge. Our bus arrived early in the morning before the crowds of tourists and we split into two groups. I waited to join the second group.

I poked around the gift shop for a while and then went outside to marvel at the stones in the distance, peaking through the morning mist. Once our group was allowed to enter, I walked through the center, took some photos and then walked around the edge holding hands with my girlfriend.

It was smaller than I’d expected but still impressive. One of the guards took us aside to show us how some of the stones had been repaired and others where people had carved their names.

As the people from our group began filtering out of the stones, I had one last thing I needed to do. I walked around to the edge of the circle and knelt down in front of my girlfriend to propose.

She said “Yes.”

We lingered a while longer as the rest of the crowd left and for a few moment it was just us and the security guards.

Reflections After Ten Years of Sobriety

Once upon a time…

…I was over at a friend’s house getting stoned, having a good time.  After a few hours I decided to head back to my place, get some food and pass out.  Some friends joined me for the walk home but none of us thought our fun was about to come to an end.

When we got to my apartment, I realized I’d lost my keys and had no way of getting in.  I wasn’t really in the state of mind for problem solving at that moment.  I stood there confused, not knowing what I was going to do.  Should I try breaking in?  After standing there for a couple of minutes, I heard footsteps coming up the stairs.  Maybe it was my mom and she could let us in!  Then I heard the sound of a police radio and before I knew what was happening I was standing face to face with a cop asking me my name.  I told him, really not sure why it mattered.  “Turn around and put your hands behind your back.”

I was under arrest.

While he was handcuffing me, I looked at my friends pleading for them to do something.  There was nothing they could do to help me.  The cop put me in his car and drove me to the police station where I was fingerprinted, had my mug shot taken, stripped down for a shower and changed into an orange jumpsuit.  Only a few minutes earlier I was having a great time with my friends, joking with each other, listening to good music.  And now, here I was, a criminal, still completely stoned, faced with a week in jail for contempt of court for failure to pay a ticket.

I had a phone call to make.  I called my mother, in the middle of the night, to tell her that I’d been arrested and needed her help.  She said she’d do what she could but didn’t make any promises.

My jail cell wasn’t a room at the Bellagio.  My accommodations included a steel cot with a thin sleeping pad, a blanket that was too small and a flat pillow that I couldn’t fold enough times to render useful.  Flourescent lights illuminated the room throughout the night, so trying to sleep was almost impossible.  I was cold, alone and afraid.  I didn’t belong here.  I had just turned 18 years old a few days ago and I just wanted to have fun.  I wanted to go to concerts, hangout with friends and spend time with my girlfriend.

It was in this moment that I realized that my life was going down the wrong path and that if I didn’t change, I’d fuck up my entire future.  This is where I’d end up; behind bars, in a concrete room, having to shit in front of the other inmates.

The next morning a guard came to tell me that I’d made bail.  My mom came through for me, but not before a long night in jail thinking about everything that I’d done wrong in my life.  I promised to change.

Making the change wasn’t easy.  I tried to quit drinking and doing drugs but it didn’t take long before I fell back into it.  I didn’t know any other life.  It’s what all my friends were doing.  I had a choice to make.  Either I kept hanging out with my friends and party my ass off or I quit everything and leave my friends behind.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make but I knew I had to leave my friends behind.  Even though I cared about them, I knew they were holding me down and keeping me from becoming the person I wanted to be.  I had to do this for myself.

It’s been ten years since reality provided me with a swift kick in the nuts and I’m proud to say that I haven’t touched so much as a drop of alcohol or any drug since making the decision to get clean.  It hasn’t always been easy but I try to remember that I’m doing this for a reason.  That reason is me, so I can have a great life.  A life that is full of opportunity and excitement.

Sometimes I’ll look at photos of my friends online and see how much fun they’re having at parties and a part of me gets jealous.  That used to me, smiling and laughing with a beer in my hand.  I remember how great it was to just cut loose, forget about the problems and act silly.  I loved it!

But you know what I love even more?  Sobriety.

I have a great life, a life that many of my old friends would be jealous of.  I’m following my dreams and making a life for myself.  I’m furthering my education (only a year to go before I have a degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Chemistry), I’ve traveled around the world, I have a great girlfriend…what more could I ask for?  No drug or drink can ever give me the satisfaction in my life that I have right now…and that makes the occasional struggle worth the effort.

Change is possible.