As a young Midwestern girl, I dreamed of living in Europe for as far back as I can remember. The countryside was far greener, the people more friendly, diverse and interesting, and even the architecture was amazing when compared to the cookie-cutter neighborhoods to which I’d been accustomed. It looked to be just about Heaven, as far as I could tell.
My friends and I sought to expand our knowledge and understanding of the (small but hard) world around us via copious amounts of weed, alcohol, and acid, while dreaming of our eventual lives -doing all those same things, of course- overseas. Heck, I was young enough then to believe in the dreams of my friends, if not my own.
Listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, The Lizard King, and of course, The Wall, we gathered our ideas of what was, and what had been, and what could be…
So, when I found myself in a position whereby all I had to do to get to The Promised Land (Europa) was get my live-in boyfriend, who was signing up for the Army, to marry me, I somehow made that happen. As young as he was, I’m pretty sure it was via
bedroom intimate private “negotiations” that he was easily persuaded.
After he left for boot camp, I spent that period and the 6 months after that smoking, snorting, dropping and drinking everything I cound get my hands on.
The codependency and depression of my youth exploded, and I went into a pretty fast, downward spiral. Then, to my in-patient “hospital” stay. It was more like a spa, I suppose, than what I’d imagined a psychiatric place to be, and I remember feeling relieved, somehow. Within those walls, I could Just. Be. Me.
After a week to get “stabilised” (I supposed that was the intention, or maybe just supervised detox) on antidepressants, they cut me loose. I hadn’t felt it necessary to talk about my previous chemical intake, and as I left, it felt like an aside when someone suggested I check out Alcoholics Anonymous.
Meh. That wasn’t my problem! That was my solution!!
Soon after returning to my little studio apartment, I realized that the medication was causing me to blackout sooner, so of course, I nixed the Prozac. (Duh.)
Upon arriving in Frankfurt, my husband took me to (of course) one of the usual bars in Saxenhausen. I had a really large glass of Pils (German ale), and a hit of acid. (Right about now was when the music began playing from when Dorothy discovered the Emerald City)
I had effin arrived!!!
It was in most ways, every bit as magical as I’d imagined.
The experience of living in Germany and seeing bits of France (and Amsterdam of course) sealed in my heart a longing to return, which even 24 years later, hasn’t subsided. It would be tres interesting to go there clean & sober, no?!
The short story of what comes to my mind when I think of how that year & a half changed my life forever is this:
My Dad took the opportunity to come for a week (or two?), during which we did some site-seeing…the experience of his driving on the auto-bahn left me with a quote I’ve not yet forgotten. We were headed toward France at the required break-neck speed (so it seemed at the time), and decided that we weren’t necessarily on the road that we wanted. Dad quipped “Well, I’m not sure where we are, but we’re really making good time!” (It may have been more hilarious because I was HIGH. You can be the judge.)
Dad had put together only a few months of sobriety at this time, and in hindsight, I’m positive I was set-up; maybe not by Dad, but nonetheless. He “needed me to help him find a meeting” in Germany. He knew I wasn’t ready to quit, yet. But he needed to get to his safe place, and I know he wanted to share this new fanily with me.
I left that meeting feeling confused and somehow hopeful.
That was one way my life was changed. My first AA meeting, in Frankfurt, Germany.
A few months later, the other life-changing event of my time in Europe.
I discovered I was pregnant.
Posted from my cabin in the mountains.