below the relentless sun, my parents and I were making our way across the smoldering blacktop where the heat was coming from both above and below, it seemed. We nearly ran to my Dad’s truck. As I spotted it, I glanced back at the commonplace building that had been my home for the past thirty days.
The feeling of freedom started its fluid flow throughout my veins. Very much like it had when I was let out of jail for driving while intoxicated. Though this feeling was much more intense—I’d never spent more than two days locked up.
I’ve been quite lucky throughout my life. I believe it came from being born in the Chinese year of the rabbit.
Though the luck did disappear a number of times; hence, my stay in treatment.
I’m about to be on my merry way to a halfway house in Kerrville, TX. I was told it was a straight, fifteen-minute shot from the rehab I just checked-out of, Arcadia Recovery Center. “Star-cadia” is what we called it. You can’t help but feel like a rockstar there. I know I foolishly did.
My head was clear once again. The hazy fog from alcohol and prescription pills had been lifted like a heavy morning mist being replaced by a sunshine that had never seen sorrow.
I felt good.
My parents were my ride to my new home, so I jumped into the backseat of my dad’s Silverado. The pickup was a golden beast that made you feel like you were in a plane flying through buttery clouds. I was also given as much space as I needed to sit and relax, making it a first class trip.
Mom and Dad were super proud of me too. I may not have graduated from my small stint at college,
…but I did from rehab!
They had just drove down about an hour from a little city outside of Austin, called Lakeway. It was a quaint place back when we moved there in ‘96. Back then, its demographics consisted of mostly elderly folks and new, up-and-coming families, such as mine. My family consisted of my two parents, younger brother, and myself, the black sheep of the family. Now, Lakeway had become a full-blown city. Complete with its mildly pretentious assholes—yours truly included.
Back in the good ‘ol days, it included several hundred homes, a Sonic, a couple golf courses, and a few stores—each splattered with ‘No Skating/Skateboarding’ signs—all thanks to my friends and I.
Still a punk skater at heart, I am.
But most importantly, it possessed access to my first real, physical escape from reality. The serene, sun-filled freedom of Lake Travis.
It was one of seven reservoirs that made up the Highland Lakes. It was apart of the snake-like Colorado River that stretched upriver from western Travis County into southern Burnet County. It also served as a water supply, an electrical power generator, and was used for flood control.
Thank you Wikipedia.
For us kids, it was primarily used for wake-boarding, knee-boarding, tubing, or just hanging-out, floating and swimming.
The love of all the kids, and adults, was submerged in this aqueous escape.
At least for the ones who had access to it.
If you had a boat or knew somebody with one, you were golden. If your friend had a boat, he/she was your best friend.
My family, fortunately, had one, a Supra Launch SSV, designed for serious wake-boarding.
Complete with two fat sacks, ballast system, Pioneer speakers, a 10” Rockford Fozgate subwoofer－that was stolen (twice)－and a pair of some powerful tower speakers you could hear while boarding. All powered by two impressive amplifiers.
I had a lot of friends.
It wasn’t always like that, though.
As we closed in on what looked like a small town, my body became flooded with a mixture of clashing feelings. Now that I was clean and sober, I could feel every sensation you could imagine.
Feelings of anticipation, excitement, nervousness, but above all,
It freaked me out feeling all of these emotions again. For the past four years before this rehab stay, I had been masking them with anything I could get my clammy hands on…
And any prescription pills I could thrown down my gullet. I gobbled up—or snorted—many pills of a garden variety of colors and shoveled copious amounts of cocaine into my nose. I am surprised it hasn’t fallen off.
But, for the first time in four years, my head was clear, with a freshness of a cool breeze upon tanned summer skin,
So fresh ‘n’ so clean.
I’m now reminded of those feminine hygiene commercials, “Are you feeling not-so fresh down there?”
It had been thirty-one days since I used any ‘mind-altering’ substance. I’ve been told you can see it in people’s eyes. If someone had been using, their hazy and heavy eyes were an obvious tell-all.
What is that saying, ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul?’
I can see that now. (No pun intended)
Driving through the quiet, rustic town of Kerrville, I couldn’t shake off the recurring memories of the good times I had, and was now leaving behind, in treatment. It was my first stay at an inpatient rehabilitation or treatment center. Sure I had seen a therapist for a short while, so I was used to talking about my feelings, but that was one of the reasons how I ended up in treatment.
After coming to the conclusion that I needed help, it was gonna be thirty days of nonstop therapy for me.
Actually, it was downright terrifying…
First off, I had arrived with a black eye with no idea where it came from. Then during the check-in, when they were taking my vitals—checking my blood pressure and pulse—they were also searching through all my clothes and belongings.
I accidentally had a few pictures of my friends and I ripping bongs and getting totally faded. The techs snatched those up faster than I could say, “hey.!” They said I could get them back when I leave, but that was a lie because I never saw them again.
The whole check-in process and alcohol/ drug evaluation, where you have to mention every single thing you’ve that done due to drugs and alcohol, was a nonstop nightmare. I also felt somewhat violated after an incredibly thorough pat down—from a male tech.
The techs were usually recovered addicts and alcoholics who had previously been patients there.
During all this mess, I was thinking—
Who would bring drugs into a rehab?
The answer: a LOT of people.
Once my parents left, I was a scared kid again who felt alone. Wondering, why in the hell did I agree to do this??
When my parents initially brought up the whole rehab idea, I agreed because I knew I needed it, but particularly, I was bored and wanted something to do. It would be a new adventure of sorts.
Later, after that pitiful conversation with my parents, I started to worry. I could not shake the vision of drug addicts wandering around aimlessly—
Peeing on the walls,
And maybe even some in straight-jackets. All of them completely zonked on whatever meds they were on.
Boy, was I wrong.
This was rehab, not a looney bin. Although some of the patients were certifiable.
This was a place to chill out, relax and get away from your outside troubles for a month.
Oh, but no alcohol. Sorry.
Now, what you’re probably thinking is,
“Hey, he said ‘no alcohol,’ but didn’t mention anything about drugs?”
That’s because you can find drugs literally anywhere.
Even in rehab.
Especially in rehab.
To be honest, it was more like a summer camp—I was there for the Fourth of July.
Only, without the water slides, balloon fights, fun, and teenage sex lurking around every corner.
It was adult sex lurking.
A one-night stand with a recovering meth head with daddy issues that led to a wee sex addiction.
You got to get your jollies somewhere.
I had even came close to a sexual encounter with a certain tall, blonde, recovering meth-head seductress named Annie.
Didn’t know she would be a future neighbor.
If the night security guard hadn’t dropped out of the Police Academy to come here pretending like he was an actual officer of the law, I definitely would’ve at least gotten passed second base.
I knew I was in treatment and I was supposed to be focused on my recovery, but sex was a part of my recovery plan.
I hadn’t gone over it with my counselor yet, but…
I’m a dude.
And back then, I was a 19-year old dude.
We finally pulled up to a cozy, red-bricked house with a sign in the front yard.
The Rooster House.
All I could focus on was the big-ass TV screen through the front window and also, how many jokes I could make about the house name. That is, until, I spotted the two girls sitting on the front porch swing.
One of my new housemates who came and greeted me and my parents had caught me checking them out.
“Yea, the chick’s house is just a few doors down, so they come over a lot,” he said.
I had already forgotten his name two seconds after he introduced himself.
He paused for a second, then said, “We have a hot tub in the back too.”
Ohh snap. J, welcome to your new home.
I was giddy for a few a seconds until, my stomach became a haven of butterflies. Amphetamine-induced butterflies. So, the recovering meth-vixen I made-out with in rehab, who would become my neighbor later on, was just an “in-the-moment” thing. I didn’t plan or set that up. It just happened; or she may have set it up. I had wished she stayed there in Kerrville with me because I found myself a new problem; other than avoiding drugs and alcohol,…
….how do I hit on girls sober?