In Provincetown for some R+R with friends and I found forgiveness in the darkness on Commercial Street. The story, true, deep, and wide follows below.
It was 2001 and I was deep in two construction projects in DC – both involving liquor licenses. One was JR’s Bar in Denver and the other a ground up construction after a fire of the legendary dance club Cobalt DC. I was drinking a lot then, and had you managed to squeeze a little pee from me then, it would have been full of meth.
The schedule was packed. DC to Denver to DC to inspections and staff and more. My partner in the effort was one of the most talented and kind men you’d ever meet. His name was Irv.
We ran JR’s DC too and there wasn’t a moment where we weren’t scheming and dreaming in all sorts of entrepreneurial ways. I remember a lot of laughing with him. Then as I got sicker, I remember less and less.
There was cash everywhere after the doors opened. The Cobalt sound system was made by hand by the nations leading live sound design wizard: Scott Hunter Stark. The music flowed. The party was on. We would pack tens of thousands into backpacks to take from one spot to the other back then. It was the end of my adventure in nightlife and I loved much of it. There was the time the Anna Nicole look alike contest host cancelled last minute so I became ANS in a flash with Bandit the Dog as the pooch – to preside over the festivities.
One of the strange mental blank spots bit with addiction is how it’s not all bad and, in the good spots, you focus on the triumphs never the tragedies.
Meantime, I was getting sicker and sicker. I drank probably ten to fifteen large double alcoholic drinks a day, smoked two packs of cigarettes every 24 hours and the meth? Well the meth kept all the plates in the air.
And always there was Irv. He would look out for me and, well, we just plugged along.
I remember less and less as that last year rolled out. I know more from what others told me, as during that time I was most often in a blackout when upright. The end occurred. I got rehab and then got to change everything and well, I don’t remember seeing Irv during those first teary for me twenty four months.
I got to Step 9 in the 12 Step program I was deeply involved in. Step Nine is where one makes amends for harm done to others and such. I had a list and started working down it. To Irv I wrote a letter.
My amends went something like this: “I know you’ve not heard from me in awhile and the reason is that I have been busy working on changing things. I am a man in addiction recovery now and have been clean and sober for ___________ months and well, I regret how I behaved with you and would welcome the chance to make things right.”
Everyone to whom I attempted amends responded differently. It’s the sort of thing I was taught I wasn’t to be pushy about – and not attempt amends in the first place if to do so would harm me or others.
I didn’t hear back from several. Irv was one of these. Until last night in the dark. Fifteen years nearly, after the end of something and the beginning of another. Standing on the dark street, talking into my phone, he must have heard my voice in the dark. “Brad Lamm is that you?” It began. A conversation. Short. Clipped. Awkward. Then a hug and goodbye.
This morning, Irv and I had a back and forth on messenger and he asked if we might talk. “I’m at the airport already. Sorry there. Next time,” I shared via Facebook. The end. Or so I thought.
Sitting there, alone at the tiny Provincetown airport, I sat reading and listening to music. It occurred to me there was a blur in front of me, then someone sitting next to me, just there on the bench.
“I forgive you,” is what he said to me.
“I’m sorry I never answered your letter but here I am.”
So it went; forgiveness in the most surprising of places and spaces. Other things were said that I’ll hold tucked in my heart but the thing is: I’m grateful for the grace of others and hope that a recovered life has given.
That. Is. All. Life is a trip, sweetheart.