Apr 04 2013
When I moved to Los Angeles it was to pursue my dream. The irony is that if you had asked me what that dream was, I couldn’t have articulated it to you even if you had a gun to my head. My dreams were one of those things in life that fit in the category of, “I will know it when I see it.”
In essence what I am saying is, I had dreams. Don’t we all? I just didn’t quite know what mine were. So I was in L.A. pursuing a shadow, a silhouette of what I thought I should be.
I have no clue why we chase dreams. I must have read it somewhere. Which is a mystery to me because I don’t know where I would have read that. Honestly, at this point in my life the only reading I was doing was on the back of cereal boxes and the occasional shampoo bottle.
But somewhere inside me I just knew I should be pursuing something called a career, and I wasn’t going to waste my time getting locked down with anything specific. I needed something to call a goal, because people ask you what your goals are. I needed an answer, so I decided my goal was to be a “big time comedian.”
I look back on that now and I can tell you I don’t even know what that means, but it was vague enough not to inspire me and at that point in my life; any inspiration I’d had would have been met with extreme resistance. It was enough to have an answer to the question, even if it was vague, to “why did you move to California?”
So when my friends in Chicago asked why I moved west, I told them that L.A. is the only place you can “make it big” as a comedian. So I guess you might say I moved to L.A. to pursue “bigness.” That’s my dream: I wanna be BIG!
Unfortunately, at this time in my life I was doing more consuming than pursuing. I was drinking more now than ever before and, as a consequence, I was more miserable than ever before. Deep down in my soul, whether I was conscious of it or not, I knew I was drowning out the joy of living I was meant to experience and justifying the murder of my soul with self pity, anger and cynicism. I behaved as if I had absolutely no control over how I responded to life. I was an out-of-control, bitter, 29-year-old drunk, careening from one comedy club to another across America.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I was not like this 24/7/365 days a year. I would have offed myself. I heard a saying that a person’s life should be one of constant joy, interrupted by periods of suffering. Mine was one of suffering interrupted by periods of joy.
I did have moments that I experienced joy in my life, but my worldview at the time of sex, drugs and rock and roll wasn’t supplying me with all of the necessary distractions that I needed to be in a constant state of materialistic bliss.
If I was to describe myself at this point in my life, I was a huge, walking, talking scab for whom, if things didn’t go my way, the scab got broken open and this puss would ooze out in the form of sarcasm, at best, and a violent rage at its worse. In case you don’t know, it isn’t my Universe. Therefore I have no control over the running of it and its five billion inhabitants. Soooo, I was in a perpetual state of oozing, if you know what I mean.
I mention all of this because it was during this period of oozing when a moment of clarity hit me. An epiphany, if you will. Namely, that what I needed in life is a point, a purpose, a reason to live. Apparently, comedy, and the pursuit of bigness, had not provided the needed spark to propel me to the place of peace and prosperity that we all seek, whether we acknowledge it or not. So one day, the thought pops into that cesspool I call a brain that what I need is a wife. A good woman would straighten me out. I may not get sober for me, but perchance for the love of a woman.
So as hard as it was, I put the dream of being the largest comedian on hold and began to look for a wife.
Before I would begin the search that would ultimately change my life, I had to run it by my brain trust at the neighborhood saloon. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know any of these people. After a few drinks, the bonding that takes place amongst drunks is unparalleled. So I mention my plan one night with a few of my drunken brethren at the bar. They agreed that I would make an excellent husband. A lot of them loved being married. So much so that a few of them had been married multiple times.
I should take the time here to point out that living in Los Angeles and trying to make ends meet as a comedian is difficult. I had to go out on the road to make the money I needed to pay for the apartment in LA. I was on the road at least three weeks every month to pay my bills. In reality, my home was on the road. I didn’t think I was going to meet the future Mrs. Allen in the City of Angels, I thought. She would come from elsewhere.
I had one other problem. I don’t know why it was, but I seemed to repel women. My biggest problem with women was talking to them. It was extremely nerve-wrecking for me. Consequently, the majority of the conversations I had with women were in my head. I would say this, and she would say that, and this could go on for an hour, just me and my fantasy. It was safer that way, and I never got rejected. I was also alone a lot.
I have a feeling that if the Internet was around at this point, I would have never left the house. Chatting online would have fit me to a tee. I could have sat there with a bottle of rum, some lines of coke, and a mouse, and conquered the entire world in chat rooms.
I, like most drunks, can lie with impunity. The difference of talking directly to a person for me is that my face always gives me away. Which is why I could lie to myself so well – I couldn’t see my face. I was a lousy poker player, because I would literally get giddy when I had a good hand. Friends used to say I didn’t have a tell, I had a shout.
The hand that I dealt myself with my various addictions was not anything to get giddy about. I was seriously lacking in all the things that a woman would be looking for in a husband. With that said, I wasn’t going to lay all my cards on the table until I had too.
One of things I had learned over the years was to create a shadow self, something that was a shell of the real me. I knew at my core that if a person knew who I really was, I didn’t stand a chance. The silhouette was the best shot I had at getting married.
Whomever God created at birth had no chance to emerge. That guy was buried years ago under gallons of booze and narcotics. So the shadow had to be enough. The real me wouldn’t come out until years into my marriage, and that was buried under buckets of rage.
For those of you reading this in recovery, you probably recognize the failed attempts to right myself with the universe. The geographical cure, “If I just had the right location to live, then things will be better,” was something I used for years – even after I was in recovery.
I was a textbook addict. The right job will cure me, the right person, the right salary, and on and on, ad infinitum. It wasn’t until I stopped feeding the shadow which was insatiable, and focused on the external and started feeding the soul which is calming and focused on the internal, that I was able to stop pretending long enough to begin the healing process that continues today.
That only began after I conned a waitress from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio into being my wife. Oh, for the love of a woman!
Next week: Tami – and how I asked her to marry me at Cleveland Airport Baggage Claim. She had no idea the baggage she was picking up when she said “yes.”