So that was Thanksgiving.  At the end of the first semester (December 1986), I was set to drive back to Westchester with Tom Matuzzi who was a year behind me at UVa. and also lived down the street from me in Taconic Heights.

We were going to pick up Brad, another friend from Taconic Heights, in D.C. and drive on back to N.Y.  The next day I was flying out to Los Angeles for the first time to spend Christmas with my father who had moved there the previous summer.

So I had a 9am final which I got finished with at like 10:30.  Tom had an afternoon final from 2-5pm so I had a long wait and nothing much to do as all of my roommates had already left for home.  However, we had had a party several weeks before which had not been as well attended as we would have liked.

The upside of this somewhat unsuccessful party was that we had about two gallons of vodka left over.  By the time everybody had left for Christmas break, there was only about a gallon left, but that was more than enough for me.  So, I started in on the vodka at about 11am and drank steadily by myself until Tom came to pick me up at around 5:30.

I talked to Kathleen on the phone from about 2 until 4:30 in the afternoon that day which I would pay dearly for when the phone bill came the following month.  Two and a half hours from Virginia to Connecticut in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday – I think it came out to $20 for that one phone call.

So anyway, Tom finally shows up at 5:30 and we head on up to D.C. to pick up Brad.  Tom lets me know that he’s kind of bushed from finals and says that he’ll drive to D.C. but then I’ll have to drive from there.

I don’t mention to him that I’d been drinking vodka for the past six hours.

So up through the Piedmont we go – that drive up the rural 29 that takes you from Charlottesville to Washington in 2 hours (110 miles).  By the time we get to Washington, Tom has figured out that I am not in any kind of shape to be driving (or walking for that matter) and when he and Brad come back out to the car, Brad gets in the driver’s seat and off we go!

The rest of the night is a blur needless to say, but me and my sister had to leave the next day for Los Angeles.  The flight out was uneventful; Kathleen had given me her walkman and I remember listening to Dave Brubeck’s Take Five on the radio as we came in over Los Angeles.

I also remember hearing ads for eating disorder clinics and thinking, I’m definitely in L.A.

My dad had a little garden apartment out in Orange County and we did some sightseeing and just kind of hung out and visited.  I had made plans to visit a guy from UVa. who lived in Lakewood so I called him one night and we ended up going down to Tijuana with a girl who lived across the street from him and lord, we got loaded.

It was a beautiful warm night and the only time I’ve ever been to Mexico, although I don’t know if Tijuana really counts.  I threw up in a big plastic cup I found in the back seat on the ride home (it’s a good three hours each way), and then threw it out the window.

I went sailing the next day off of Marina Del Ray with my dad and sister and one of my dad’s lawyer buddies who could see I was little under the weather but was very relaxed about the whole thing.  He told me he had wanted nothing more than to be a bum when he finished college, but had ended up being a lawyer instead.

I flew back into New York on New Year’s Eve and headed right on up to Kathleen’s and it was party party party until it was time to go back to school.

On the Thursday night before Super Bowl Sunday in January 1987, it snowed about 18 inches in Virginia and classes were cancelled on Friday.  The radio said not to leave the house unless it was for necessities.

Well, me Tim and Doug drove over to the shopping center on Friday and bought a keg, a bottle of Yukon Jack and one of those jumbo 25 packs of Marlboros, so you can see we had our priorities straight at the time.

We had a little snow party at the Shady Rest and played some coed tackle football out in the yard that afternoon and just basically enjoyed ourselves.

On Saturday, Kathleen found somebody crazy enough to drive from Lynchburg up to Charlottesville despite the blizzard of the previous day, so we got to spend Saturday night together.

Sunday night was the Super Bowl and by the time the game started it was snowing again.  We got another 15 inches and Kathleen stayed over Sunday night.

I’ll never forget the blizzard of ’83 in NY which came in on a Friday night.  The weathermen had watched it all day and everybody knew it was coming.

I was a senior in high school then, and worked that afternoon packing up aquarium supplies for mail order.  I always remember loading up the UPS truck that afternoon and as the driver pulled his door down and jumped into the cab he yelled back to me, “Get snowed in with someone you love tonight!”

Now, here I was four years later and 500 miles away getting snowed in with someone I loved.

I was a little out of focus that semester.  Kathleen was a junior and had another year of school to go.  I, on the other hand, was graduating and tried as hard as I could not to think about it.

Just like my dad’s buddy, I wondered if there was a living in doing nothing.  The fact that the majority of my friends were not graduating on time (or graduating at all)  certainly did not help my motivation.

By the time spring break rolled around, I was a dedicated party boy, chasing my buzz just like The Swimmer of Cheever’s story.  Of course, I usually had plenty of company, which made it that much easier to ignore the despair inherent in such a pursuit.

That spring break of ’87 was spent in N.Y. with the time split between driving around looking for a party, actual parties and the hometown bar at Patsy’s Pub.

There were far too many people around at that point in my life to begin to get into their stories and describe who I was spending time with and talking to about what.

I think the most apt description is that of the Swimmer, and the coming fall and winter of 1987 would find me in exactly the same position I was in the spring, although in the Fall of ’87, I was a college gradaute, and there weren’t as many “friends” to hide behind and my hopelessness and desperation became far more apparent.

I would return to this state of realization periodically over the next seven years, first in the spring of 1989, next in the spring and summer of 1991, then the spring, summer and fall of 1993, and finally the summer of 1994 (the Summer of Drugs) until finally quitting the booze for seven years in October of 1994.

(Down East, Maine 1999)

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