Cutting Off Your Arm, Bit By Bit

I was on Cloud 9 for a week and in Hell for a year. 30 days clean, I quit smoking too.

"Would you rather cut your arm off bit by bit or all at once?" asked my mom. She took me to get a manicure when I threw out my cigarettes. I beat my couch with a wiffle ball bat, full of frozen rage and grief, melting fast. This was my detox unit, the house I grew up in. My mom's renter moved out the week I moved home. I'd left my car on the West Coast and a friend had left hers here, so we traded. Within a week of being a homeless traveler I had a house and a car. When I opened a bank account at First Virginia with the money I'd made on a cruise ship in Alaska, the teller said, "I honor your spirit." I used that money to buy a refrigerator and food and enough time until I could hold a job. My belongings were in an army duffle bag and attics everywhere. I had a few clothes and a polyester patchwork quilt I'd used as a blanket, a dress, a tent, a flag for the way it was to live on the road. I went to meetings in every part of the city. This was my new way of traveling now. When I got letters from friends hitchhiking through South America I cried, beat the couch with the wiffle ball bat and hated myself. Detoxing at home was not a glamorous way to be 23. I did yoga on a mat on the floor and listened to affirmations. I hid all of my music from myself- my wild, sad, beautiful, heart-wrenching whiskey and drugs and wine and smoke music and listened to classical I'd never heard before. I wrote in my journal about my pain and my misery and my bad luck and waited like hell for what my mother promised would be the most beautiful spring.