Last night's dinner was with a guy I worked with for all of maybe five months back in late 2000 in L.A. Anyone who's read Dead Star Twilight knows what I was up to during that time period and therefore what I must've been like at work. Astonishingly, this person is one of quite a few who put in time with me during that brief era before I truly became strung out who still remembers me fondly, as someone with a good mind who had talent to burn. (Both the mind and the talent would be burned in short order.) The really ironic thing about this guy, though, is that it would be a couple of years later that he'd travel down his own road to full-blown, thoroughly horrific addiction. It was much different than my personal highway to hell -- there was a lot of West Hollywood partying and, from what I can gather, a total submergence into the meth scene that's destroyed so many good lives -- but the end result was pretty much the same: He lost everything and had to claw his way back to becoming, hopefully, a better version of the man he used to be.
What was interesting about the two of us sitting across a table from each other, was, well, everything. We weren't really great friends back in the day, just a couple of co-workers who admired each other's abilities. And now, as he said last night, here we are in Albuquerque, New Mexico on a Thursday night having dinner a decade later. His point was that you really don't know where life will take you, where the road ahead will lead or what it will reveal. He's got a good life and a good future here in Albuquerque -- which includes a damn terrific job and a guy he seems to be cultivating a healthy relationship with -- and despite the ongoing, everyday struggle all former users have to wade through, he's rigorous about staying positive and he's grateful for each new day he gets.
He's writing his own book, too -- which I have to believe will be a hell of a read once it's complete. A thematic refrain within it: pay attention to everything. Again, the future's completely uncertain -- whether you'll even have a future from one minute to the next is often out of your hands -- and the past is history. The only thing you have right now is now. It's the only thing you can be sure of and by its very nature the rarest gift imaginable because there will never be another time just like it. You'd be a fool to waste something that precious.
Word has it the roads are finally clearing and reopening. I'll probably be back behind the wheel soon.