What to Do When Your Entire Life Literally Ends Up In The Sewer
It was after 2 AM, I only know that because that’s when bars close and the employees of this specific one where we spent the night drowning our selves and sorrows in Southern Comfort had informed us they were closed several times before we actually left.
I was 21, had just parted ways with the company I had thought I had found a future in and was in the process of watching a 5 year relationship with the woman I lived with and loved end as badly as it possibly could.
I have very little recollection of that night aside from fighting with her, being thrown out of the house and moseying down to the bar at our corner. A friend I grew up with happened to be there, he asked how I was and I told him the honest version — and he immediately began ordering us shots.
Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn or an angry man’s ability to drink. Now when I say I ran into a friend I grew up with, it was THE premiere drinking friend I grew up with, who I’ll refer to as ‘Stumbles’ from here on out. He’d prefer that above me using his real name, so there you have it.
It was late when I arrived but Stumbles immediately began helping me catch up to the crowd drink wise. You didn’t venture into a bar with Stumbles and leave before close in those days. Which was just fine by me on this night.
After being thrown out after hours, we drunkenly made our way out into the parking lot and eventually parted ways. Rather than go back to the house I was asked to leave a few hours before, I decided to take the mile or so walk to my Dad’s and stay the night there, being I had a key.
This next part of the story is essentially my reason for telling it to begin with. As I mentioned, I had just left the company I naively believed I’d retire with. Now for that company, I traveled all across the country, getting to see sites and landmarks many people go their entire lives without ever getting to see in person. The Hollywood hills, Laguna beach, the walk of stars on Hollywood boulevard, the arch in St. Louis, the empire state building, all of the major landmarks in Washington D.C. and so on and so forth.
This was 2008, before smart phones. The hottest phone out at the time was the Motorola Razor. An ultra thin flip phone whose selling point was exactly that, how thin it was. On top of that, it had a camera, which was not necessarily standard in phones at the time.
The day Motorola released the Razor, the girlfriend who had just thrown me out on the night in question, woke me up and suggested we go buy two of them, as neither of us had cell phones yet and the need for one was becoming increasingly larger. We did exactly that, she went with the pink one and I went with the special edition ‘Miami Ink’ version that had a cool dragon on the front that was allegedly designed by tattoo artist Kat Von Dee.
This phone became the first piece of technology I would ever come to truly love. I captured pictures from all over the Country. Pictures of all the landmarks I mentioned earlier, pictures of the girlfriend I was in the midst of losing, pictures of all the friends I made at the company I had just left who I never really got to see again after departing, it was just never the same.
Point being is, my entire life and most intimate and favorite moments of the previous year and a half were trapped inside that phone. This was before social media was as widespread as it is now, a time before people took pictures solely to upload them. Those pictures only existed inside the phone.
I’ll just come out and say it, on top of pictures from all over the country there were also naked pictures as well as shall we say private videos of said girlfriend and I in the phone. Ones that were becoming increasingly clear, would never have a chance to be reenacted or recaptured.
On my walk home, my beloved phone rang at what would turn out to be the worst possible time it could. I picked it up and Stumbles was on the other end of the line, asking if I happened to have his wallet, as he lost it and was just drunkenly hoping I picked it up but forgot to tell him? Not sure really.
I informed him I did not have it nor had I seen it and went to hang up the phone. Being as drunk as I was and the fact it was a flip phone, I foolishly tried to shut it using my cheek, failing horribly. In a sad twist of fate, the phone fell from my ear directly into a grated in ground sewer I happened to be walking over at the exact time I dropped the phone.
I stood there for a moment, looking down in disbelief. It just added to my overall sense of loss. Everything was turning to shit right before me. One of the very few things I had left in the world as well as any mementos I had of better days were now floating eight feet below me in a steel grated sewer.
A fleeting thought of how I could possibly retrieve it came and passed as I tragically looked down into the murky abyss that was the sewer that was my life. In a moment of clarity, I told myself it was gone and there was nothing I could do about it except walk away with the very little bit of pride I had left.
I woke up the next morning, smiling as I reflected on just how drunk Stumbles and I got. Then I looked around and remembered not only that I was not at home but also the phone in the sewer debacle. The smile quickly faded as I laid there and mourned the loss of the phone and the memories in them for a brief moment.
Without bickering, huffing and puffing or complaining I went down to the phone store and bought the same exact phone, in the way a parent tries to offer to buy another pet for their child in the place of one that just died.
It was never the same because at the end of the day, it wasn’t the phone I treasured. It was what was in it and what it represented to me. It represented the success I had found early, success I lost just as quickly as I found it. It was a reminder of a simpler and better time and perhaps where it ended up is a fitting analogy for where I ended up as well.
The lesson I’m trying to convey is sometimes, doing nothing is all you can do. Moving forward without looking back is your only option at times. I wish I had found a way to move forward from all the other losses I had just taken in the same fashion I did the phone, which was by grieving for it for a brief moment and then moving on. By starting the rebuilding process from scratch.
I didn’t though. I didn’t want a new start at life like I didn’t want a new phone. I didn’t want a new job, a new girlfriend or a new place to live. I was still clinging to the ruins of all I had and lost. I may have saved myself five years of pain and heartbreak had I just walked away gracefully.
Thanks for reading.