In July 2021, I have a dream. I’m eight months into a relapse and it’s not going the way I wanted it to. I went back out because I wanted to feel part of, but the weed is making me feel depressed and disconnected, and I’m having trouble controlling the booze. I’d had close to five years of sobriety before, enough time to know that life for me is better without drugs and alcohol. I’m starting to miss how good it used to feel. I’m starting to want to go back. There’s one place I absolutely do not want to go, though, and that’s back to Alcoholics Anonymous. I may be flailing emotionally, but I’m not out of control. Things really aren’t that bad.
In the dream, I’m at a conference at a Marriott-like hotel. Somehow I know it has the impersonal feeling of a budget corporate hotel convention center, though I haven’t seen inside. I’m walking around the grounds, which instead of pools and golf courses feature an open air market. Most of the tables are lined with cheap convention schwag. Keychains, water bottles, and pens emblazoned with names and catchphrases that are simultaneously impossibly catchy and so interchangeable it is impossible to tell what services the vendor provides. McCaffey. McKesson. Blue Peak. Blue Wolf. Pinnacle. Navigant. Solutions for You. Outwit Complexity. Intelligence that Works. Knowledge, Experience, Trust.
I don’t want to be here. I’m under the impression that I’m here to enroll in a master’s program but that can’t be because I already have a master’s degree. Dream-me has a master’s, I mean. In waking life, I have an advanced degree, but it’s a JD not a master’s. I realize the distinction doesn’t matter in the dream or the real world.
In the dream, things are glitching. Something isn’t right. There’s a serious disconnect. I’m supposed to be working toward my second degree but I really don’t want to do that because I already did that. I took the classes. I passed the exams. I earned the grades. My career is underway. Just look around! I’m here at the conference! There are so many sessions to attend! So many vinyl stickers to scoop up and slip into nylon bags! Going back to school feels like it will be a tremendous waste of time.
Though, come to think of it, I don’t really want to attend the conference either. The sessions are starting, but they feel extraneous. I’m looking for an AA meeting. I know there’s one happening around here somewhere. They have them at conferences, you know. Just look for Friends of Bill on the agenda. I make my way to a stall set up at the end of the sidewalk. The vendors are hawking t-shirts. It looks like a merch table at a concert, or like a Hot Topic. The meeting is starting but they are making me buy a shirt first. Weird, but fine, whatever. Someone puts an Alice Cooper t-shirt in my hands. I know it doesn’t really matter, I just need to get a shirt and get through the door, but I’m irritated. This isn’t the shirt I want at all. Alice Cooper doesn’t reflect my personality or musical taste. I’m not going to put this on. I start digging through fabric piled up on the table and then flipping through hangers until I find one that says Sex Pistols. This. This is the shirt I’m going to go with. Now I’m ready to go to the meeting, finally. I wake up before I make it through the door.
I wake up with one thought on my mind, and immediately check my phone to see if I’m right. Alice Cooper has been sober for over three decades. Sid Vicious famously overdosed on heroin and died.