Crickets, Cravings, and Crayola Tattoos
By: Tami Harper Winn
The bullfrogs were in full harmony tucked away in the tall grass near the water. Crickets chirped up in chorus with them. The rustle of the summer wind pushed through the leaves. Ripples of water lapped consistently onto the sandy shore. Outside her screen door the evening had begun its symphony as it did each night. She smiled. That’s why she rented this little two room apartment. The small lake behind her home was like her own oasis, a place to transfix on when all the rest of the world had gone mad.
Tonight however, she could not stop pacing a worn spot in her carpet from her bedroom to the front door. It was almost ten o’clock on a Saturday night. Her shakes came back steadily. Her eyes darted from the clock to the back screen door. She decided to try to curl up on the couch and read her Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that she had been instructed to finish – all 164 pages. She tried with all the desperation of a drowning woman to steer her thoughts clear of the malady that she suffered from. One word after another blurred into the other. Then she heard it, the loyal sound of fun being had.
Across the lake the echoes danced in with the ripples on the water, first gently, then overpowering the orchestra of natural wonders outside that door. They rushed through the screen and began to assault her consciousness, attacking her self will that was ready to run riot. The lights from the club just across the lake were peeking through the leaves on the trees outside – taunting her ruthlessly. The incessant voices began their assault on her fragile newborn sobriety. “You know you want to dance with the boys,” they chimed all together in perfect harmony. “There are cold drinks and sexy fun to be had Tami,” they promised once more, “and don’t forget you have that new dress that demands to be seen.” They wouldn’t stop.
Now to most, this could appear to be the beginning of the end of a person’s sanity – a clear case of mental illness. It feels like it when a person in full blown relapse mentality is experiencing it. For me, my mind is a like an inner city ghetto. I can’t go in there alone; I’ll get my ass handed to me. This is what was going on that very night. I was in the middle of a war zone, battling it out with the rival gang, my disease, and I was going down fast.
I was shaken from the crash of my thinking by the sudden knock on my door. There, on my doorstep, was a cute young man I had met only a few short days ago in a meeting. “I was in the neighborhood and was wondering if you wanted some company.” Boy, did I?
He stood there bare-chested, tattoo laden, and in surfer shorts (flip flops and all). How could I resist? Now, don’t judge me. I was early in recovery and still very much a woman. As far as I know now, I was as normal as a train wreck newcomer can be. But, that young man helped me save my life that night. He heard the music blaring and the laughter rippling in. He saw my eyes darting from the screen door to the front door where he stood. He understood the dilemma that was occurring between my ears. He knew that I was fighting for my life in that very moment.
“Hey there beautiful, where you at?”
I stood there staring into the blue eyes of this strange man. I felt lost. “I don’t know,” I answer back.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Ya, I want to color in your tattoos. Can I?” The words suddenly and unexpectedly falling out of my mouth. I was shocked. But, I stood there waiting to hear his response.
“Of course. You got markers?”
“I got kids. Of course I do,” I say as I run to my daughter’s room. I am relieved.
Lying on that couch that night, markers in hand, filling in the spaces between the black lines, I colored my way back to sanity. The laughter in the room over powered the laughter from outside. I got lost in the moment and I was enjoying myself on a Saturday night – completely sober. I didn’t get the book read that night. Nor did I drink. I smiled. I laughed. I flirted. I stayed sober and the boy you ask? He was a colorful mess who later became my beautiful mess of a fiancée. But that is another story for another time.
The moral of this story is that I was willing to go to any lengths to stay sober from the very start, even if it meant coloring in the tattoos of a bare chested man I had just met. “Now that’s dedication,” I laugh as I close my computer. Those dang newcomers.
~Tami Harper Winn~
The story written here is solely the work of the author’s. Any use or reproduction of this article is prohibited without written consent of the author or credit to the author through works cited.