I was stuck in the back seat of a Pontiac for nearly eight hours with a girl that had taken four muscle relaxers and a third of whiskey. She alternated between thinking about vomiting, staring out the window, and speaking in non-sequiturs so thick and disparate that I thought I was hallucinating myself. She leaned on my like a broken fence, her weight pushing me against the door and making it hard to move. I chain-smoked out the window, ashes blowing back in the car like hot snow, covering the back window ledge and getting in our hair. I don't think we stopped once the entire drive, and when we finally did arrive it took me three hours to get feeling back in my left leg.

The cabin was small, but it was well suited for our purposes. I set up on the screened in porch out back, setting my three cases of cider next to a frayed mesh lawn chair, and began drinking immediately. In a perfect example of poor decision making, I had brought along a carton of unfiltered Lucky Strikes and proceeded to plow through it in about four days. My lungs hurt and it was hard to breathe, but I kept on trucking along like I was actively tempting fate to give me cancer. When the night fell I taunted the bugs stuck on the opposite side of the screen, and forced myself to crawl back into the house when I felt I was about to pass out. Sometimes I made it to the cot at the top of the stairs, and other times I woke up laying in front of the fireplace, a kind person throwing a blanket over me in the night.

I was there with a group of other people, but they went out on adventures during the day so I barely saw them at all. They went out canoeing or fishing, spending their day on the lake while I sat and drank myself into oblivion. I did go into town with them one day, and we went to a an old bookstore that occupied a barn on the side of the main road. I found some interesting stuff, and immediately began reading on my arrival to the porch. I remember reading those books, but have absolutely no recollection of their contents. I couldn't have wasted my time any better.

A tree came down in front of the porch one night, and I took it as my mission to clear the tree. I was lucky that I didn't severely hurt myself trying to break apart this tree with an ax and a sledge. I may have been pretending to hack apart this tree to clear the drive, but I was actually using it to extract some of the aggravation that my life was continually throwing at me. My hacks at the log were more futile than decisive, but watching the wood splinter before the iron chunk made me feel better about things. I lost the ax head to an overly ambitious swing, and it went flying off into a patch of leaves and debris. After an hour of looking I couldn't locate where it had disappeared into the wild tangle, and spent another hour drunkenly trying to kick the maimed carcass into the edge of the woods by the driveway. I got it halfway there before I gave up, exhausted and sweaty and almost sober.

Late at night, if I hadn't been drinking too heavily to completely incapacitate myself, I would get an inner tube out of the box by the dock, grab three or four ciders, and hand-paddle my way out into the middle of the lake. The water was warmer than the air at that time of night, and I found myself slumping deeper into the center of the tube to keep warm. The lack of light pollution opened the skies to me, and I saw stars that I hadn't seen since my childhood. I floated there in the middle of the lake asking god where he had run off to, trying hopelessly to sort myself out. I dropped two of the ciders into the water, the condensation making them much too slippery to handle, and they drifted lazily to the bottom despite my drunken pawing after them. I'm sure they are still down there, sealed in their bottles and waiting for someone to come upon them. My gift to the lake, and to the earth.

I didn't want to go back to the real world. Back there, things were strange and already getting out of control. I had been asked back to my old job by my former employer, which would require me to take up couch surfing professionally until I found a place to permanently stay. It was a sacrifice I was willing to take, but I knew the price that I would be paying. I spent most of my days trying to think myself out of these situations, hoping that sinking deep into the darkness of alcohol would reveal answers. No answers came, naturally.

On the last night that we were there, we all got some lobsters and steaks and made dinner on our own. I had myself some duck and lobster, and some more cider to wash it all down with. It was nice, and I think I may have connected with the rest of them at this point, at least a little. I felt the world expand just a little bit that night, and I hoped and prayed that it would stay that way.

I slept most of the way back. I didn't want to go, but I couldn't stay. I don't like life's choices.