8. Normal

Me, my friends and I.

My friends have always been a major part of my life. For as long as I can recall memories I have always had the ‘boys around.’ During my most testing times; they have made me happy, made me angry and some nothing at all.

Throughout my time taking drugs, my friends have been with me every step of the way and I am sure if they wrote about their experiences I would feature in their tale of woe and regret. Throughout all highs and lows they’ve been there. I started to feel indifferent toward my friends once I finally started realising my own personal demons, specifically my addiction to drugs.

I remember talking to someone about my friends and the years under the bridge. Story after story I told them until I finally asked the question “Does it all sound normal?” Their response was to ask me to, “define normal?”

I thought about it for a moment. Everyone has a different version of what ‘normal’ is, if even such a classification exists. Once I stopped trying to classify my friends, I stopped feeling indifferent and judged it for what it was. A group of people I had known for most of life, who in one way or another are always there for each other.

After my scare a few months earlier, I was clean for about four months. I caught up with my friends in a road trip across an European country.
I had bought 1000 MSJ’s for the trip. I remember getting to the Port and going into meltdown about getting searched by Border Control.  In my panic I scattered hundreds over the floor and dished out handfuls to my friends. This wasn’t my intention five minutes into the trip but all of us  began knocking them back like peanuts. I had no idea how badly the time off would effect my tolerance level. To put it lightly, I was in a muddle.

I climbed into my car, hid the remaining Valium in my boot and ambled to the ship.
My tolerance level was lower, some of my friends didn’t have one.
I woke up on the ship floor cuddled up to my friend in a communal sleeping area. My phone with it’s alarm set at 4:45am (my work alarm at the time) began twinkling gently. I finally came around to the tender sound of the phone but the time was closer to 8am. My alarm had been sounding and snoozing every ten minutes for over three hours. I can’t remember if it were disdain on their faces of those strangers remaining in the room or them actually telling me what a ‘see you next Tuesday’ I was.

We headed out to Europe in separate vehicles and lost each other after ten minutes.

I had the bright idea to ring my office and get them to direct me to our location (about 4 hours away). Some didn’t even know I had gone away and  here in a classic ‘valed’ up move I am ringing the capital and in constant contact with my demanding and judgemental office. I am on the office speakerphone slurring away and chatting incoherent nonsense so the whole Coalface can hear me. Its safe to say they knew I was on something.

We finally arrived at our location and phoned the other car. If we were doing badly arriving late, then they were doing horrendous. Not only had a couple soiled themselves but they had drove to another country. I have never been fussed on smartphones but I was so thankful for the videos and photos. Without it I probably wouldn’t have remembered as much from the trip that turned out to be one I will cherish forever. Would it have been as fun without the Valium, I guess I will never know and there lies the rub.

When I wonder about being ‘normal’ with each other I remember the moments early on my life, the childish moments that could be justified by ‘boys being boys’. Things like ‘Spike Sunday’ where early Sunday evening we would try and spike each other with ecstasy knowing Monday morning at work was approaching. Pretty awful preparing mentally for Monday morning blues and then ‘coming up’ off a pill you didn’t even know you had taken.

On another occasion, I was so high on cocaine for two days in the clubbing capital of the world and I needed to find Valium. I finally searched it out, paying an extortionate price for a blister pack of fourteen. I took seven, got back to the apartment and finally got to sleep. I was confused an hour later when I woke up feeling ‘weird.’ My friend thought it would be funny to fill my gaping, dribbling mouth with a bomb of MDMA. ‘Boys will be boys’ indeed.

Nowadays, as family men things are supposed to be different but I think about the state I left my friend in on this trip. We do care for each other that I am certain but at the same time we expect each other to look out for ourselves. On his birthday he was ploughed with shots, already loaded up on Valium he collapsed in the shower hitting his head. Once he came to he passed out for the night. His arms and legs bound with electrical tape, naked (come to think of it most of the trip he was missing clothes) and vulnerable meant opportunity for me and my friends. Among other things I can hear the ‘Slap’  half a dozen cheeseburgers with one half of the bun removed made being clouted to his body (the mustard relish acted like a glue). Banter, eh!

Most people would worry about his wellbeing but not my friends and not me. Two hours later, we were driving across the country in the early hours trying to catch the ferry.

Absolutely blind drunk and burdened with Valium. Did the friends who we left a couple hours ago worry about us driving in the middle of the night, in that stupor, in a country we did not know? Of course not!
We made it and my best friend woke up, end of story.

But it does beg the question, is this ‘normal’?

Whatever it makes us, one thing I am sure. I love my friends very much

* See you next Tuesday – C*nt

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