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Easily, eeeeeeasily the worst things I've ever done to the people who've tried to get close to me were things I've done under the influence of alcohol. It did not make me a predator, but rather it drew the predator out from me. It made me feel justified in malice. A seeker of pain.

I don't break into people's houses anymore, trust me. I don't beg for sex. I don't settle for pornography either. I don't blame people for not knowing how to communicate, and I don't blame people for not knowing what's good for them.

I'm still lying about a lot of these things.

I can still remember the first person who ever willingly tolerated me. The first one who couldn't close the gap. The first one who couldn't wait...
I looked her up, it seems she's in Tennessee. Is that another reason for me to avoid the place, or another reason to go? Or just another excuse to sensationalize it without doing anything? I mean, how could I ever abandon Memphis, anyway? That's my backyard. My playground. My perpetual crisp Spring Friday night with all the girls in their prom dresses and gentlemen in their jackets. Or Chattanooga, with its famous, gorgeous old railways and wide lakes and all that land spread over the broad, steep hills. Or Gatlinburg, where I have so much family history, or the grossly underrated town of Monteagle, or hell even Lynchburg where so much of the problems were started in the first place. We don't speak of the capital...but still, I couldn't forsake Tennessee.

It's a wonder though, nay, a shame, what one can leave behind. It's a cold comfort when it'll still be there whether one loves it or completely ignores it. Zappa said (I don't quote him exactly) that you can't blame the drugs. You have to take responsibility for yourself either way in the end, no matter what lengths you've taken to ruin yourself, no matter how much control you've lost. Sobriety is purgatory. It's taken up all my time. I've left both heaven and hell behind me.

I remember drinking straight from the bottle. I remember making an ass of myself. I remember toting a guitar I couldn't play into a cemetery and asking people to make out, singing a Californian's tune like it was an Irish folk song. I remember talking to a couch-surfing marine vet and wanting so badly to remember what the hell I'd told him about. I remember showing up for rehearsals half drunk, both impressing and disgusting myself for being able to hide it so well. I remember a girl who pushed me away. I knew that she wanted me to chase after her, and I didn't. I let her go, well before she was ready. There are things that I can't blame on alcohol even if I wanted to, but I thank God for the things that I can't remember, even if those are the things that frighten me the most.

And since then, since I've (mostly) put the alcohol behind me, it's been a slow grievance for the people who couldn't get through to me because I wouldn't drink. On the one hand, it feels like I can't win for losin', but on the other hand I don't have much of a right to complain about winning or losing in a game that I don't want to play anymore.

I don't intend on spending the rest of my life apologizing for the fact that I didn't try. I do intend on giving the gift of myself, and not just to asceticism, not just to the dark, not just to reflection or indulgent creation either. What I've learned is that there's a lot worth understanding, a lot worth remembering, and yes, even things that are worth fear. I've learned to be careful, and I'm slowly learning the art of a firm grip. The full moon never bothered me, Ashley. And I'm sorry (if) I pushed you away too. I spent a full day last month driving the length of Tennessee solo en route to the hills of north Georgia, and in the last hour of the drive through confounding country-ass highways, after I was too tired for music, too tired to even speak to myself, the full moon through my windshield was the only solace I took before I eventually found my way.

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