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Grapevine : January 2012
strong point of pride for me. I began my freshman year at high school in 1988. The new atmosphere was very overwhelming. I found myself wishing daily to become part of the in-crowd. It didn’t take me long to get intro- duced to my new best friend—king al- cohol. All of a sudden, I felt alive. Go- ing to party after party, I became witty, outgoing, and charming, and found that I could be the person I wanted to be. All that was required was a little alcohol. I was arrested numerous times for underage drinking, DUIs and disorderly conduct. At first, my par- ents reacted with concern, but after a while, my father’s response became, “OK, I’ll be there in a little bit.” He’d simply drive me home, not say too much, then go back to bed. Growing up with films like “Animal House,” I had a vivid im- age of what college would be like. I decided to attend Eastern michigan University, simply because they had a top swim team. At this point I had lost interest in my swimming ca- reer, but it was what I was expected to do. The day my family dropped me off at the dorms, I had only one thing on my mind: Where was the party that evening? I felt free at last. I was a grown-up! my freshman year turned out to be quite a drag. With swim practice each day, I began drawing lines in the sand. First I thought, At least I’m only drinking on the weekends. Once I began drinking on the weeknights I thought, At least I don’t drink in the mornings or afternoons. Eventually, I began doing that as well. One by one, my friends seemed to disappear and my girlfriends kept breaking up with me. By my third year, I was living in an apartment with three friends who I had managed to keep. Writing bad checks for booze and food became a daily routine. my hangovers got worse and worse, and the only way I could stop feeling sick was to drink more. When people com- mented on my drinking, I would jok- ingly say that I had a 30-year life ex- pectancy and had to live it up while I could. Each time I wrote a bad check and got myself deeper into debt, I believed I wouldn’t be around long enough to deal with the consequences. It turns out that there were three guys living in the apartment right below ours who drank exactly like I did. Soon I was living on their Soon I was living on their couch. We would go to a ham- burger joint and laugh at each other because we were shaking so badly that we couldn’t hold our burgers. 24 January 2012 GRAPE_22-29.indd 24 11/22/11 3:56 PM