For those of you not familiar with Ohio weather, specifically Cleveland, Ohio weather – it’s damned dismal & grey & depressing.
That’s how Ohio was when I left it. And most of my memories from that time have that feeling of foreboding desperation. GREY is the best way I can describe it. No. November of 2021 was not the worst part of my life. – Far from it. However, there was a downing, drowning suffocation in my life.
I was living in a semi halfway house/rehab apartment complex… one that was not very “complex”, but VERY restricting to the simple freedoms, such as going outside to smoke by yourself. There were random urine tests for drugs (yet drugs were very prevalent & easily available to any so seeking such indulgence) & alcohol.
This was not my first stay in such a place, but it was the most “normal” institution I’d lived in. And by normal I mean I had my own apartment (complete with a roommate), responsible for cooking my own meals & laundry; I had to pay rent, go to meetings – a structured environment which served me well… for the short amount of time I was there.
What was important – the MOST important thing for me – in those weeks was getting into the routine of daily writing & posting. There was a computer lab at the complex, & I had become very unaccustomed to having access to the internet. Almost a year! – A year without a computer! Throughout 2021, all the computer & internet access I had was for a brief stint in the summer. When I was allowed to go to the library, that was when I get onto a computer. That is also when I picked up writing & posting things here, on WordPress.
It was scattered, at best. I’m not even sure how many columns I posted during that time…?
What I do know is that was the beginning of what has become a glowing & positive & educational part of my life. It’s what kept pushing me to what became my first book. And my second book is soon to follow. As long as I keep up the daily work. This has been an inspiration to keep on going… not that I would STOP writing. It’s an inspiration to keep going on believing my dream is possible: to be an author. To have the books in my hands I have written… and that improvement is possible.
Before I moved into the COMPLEX, writing was a daily thing. On an old typewriter, that is. And in notebooks. I still have many pages of daily life in a sober house in West Cleveland stacked up in a file tray, unpublished & raw. I don’t know if I’m ever going to do anything with them. File them away, of course, but they seem irrelevant to my life now, in North Carolina.
And that is what this piece is about: North Carolina, and how I got here.
After two weeks of living in the COMPLEX – two weeks of writing & posting daily – I got a message from a woman.
“You intrigue me,” said the message. And this intrigued me. For I knew the sender of the message… yet I had not been in contact with her in 20 YEARS!
She was a girl. And she lived up the road from me.
What the hell was she doing getting in touch with me?
I asked if she had been reading my column. When she replied YES, I was very happy. I was also very cautious.
Well, what more can I say about this? We started messaging & calling one another daily. She became just as important in my daily life as writing.
She mentioned something about hiring some help for her farm. And, boy, did I jump on that.
There are a great number of reasons I had for wanting to leave Ohio – leave Cleveland & all the bad that is found in any city. it was the closeness that really sealed the deal for me, though. Tara & I became close. We talked in a way & about things I found comforting. We wanted to be around one another.
So: on November 23, 2021, a 2021 Chevy Silverado pulled into the parking lot of the drug & booze COMPLEX. I had two bags, a box, and a lamp. It was cold & miserable. My nerves were shot, anxiety through the roof – IT WAS HAPPENING! I was going to start my New Life.
JUST GET IN THE TRUCK, my mind shouted.
And I did. No regrets. These past five months have had some of the best days I’ve had in… well… ever.
Tara & I are never far from each other. We have not spent a single night away from each other. People can call it codependency. Some people consider that a negative thing. If what I have now is considered negative, I wish I could put those people in my boots two years ago, and then their definition of negative would be extremely altered.