I am sitting on a mattress. The mattress is on the floor. The floor is in my apartment.
I am sitting here on this mattress and I am watching a tarantula. The tarantula is inside a plastic box. The plastic box is on the floor in my apartment, like my mattress is.
This plastic box, it is clear like an aquarium. It is not an aquarium, but it’s close enough, you know? You know what I mean.
I have convinced myself that the tarantula is preparing to molt. Any minute now, it is going to flip itself onto its back and then climb right out of its old skin. In my head, this is what I am telling myself. This molt is going to happen. I just need to keep watching.
I have been watching this tarantula for a long time now. Maybe hours. Maybe months. In this one spot, watching it. Waiting. There is no way to know for sure how long it’s been. To know how much time has gone by.
It is while I am sitting here, watching this tarantula, who is doing nothing at all, really, that it occurs to me: I am sober.
I mean, I already knew I was sober. Before this. I knew it. If you’d asked me, “Katy, are you sober right now?” I definitely would have told you, “Yup,” and I would have been telling you the truth.
But there is a difference, I think, between knowing I am sober and realizing I am sober. Really grokking it, you know? Somewhere along the way, I became a sober person and I did not realize it had happened.
Until right now, sitting here watching this tarantula.
I am sober.
Smoking cigarettes, I think I started that when I was thirteen years old. I quit when I was twenty-six. Smoking pot, I probably started at fourteen. Quit I don’t know when. Maybe three years ago. I guess I was probably fourteen when I started in with the drinking, too, and I’ve apparently quit that at twenty-eight. If what I’m realizing right now is true, that is. If it holds up.
This sounds bad, doesn’t it? This image of me as a chain-smoking, drunk pothead of a fourteen-year old, I mean. It sounds bad. I was homeless back then, though. This is not an excuse. This is just sort of an explanation.
I believe it would be difficult to live on the streets sober. Maybe impossible. I don’t know. Sobriety lends itself more to things like sitting on a mattress on the floor of my apartment, waiting for a tarantula to molt, than it does to living on the streets.
The tarantula starts moving around. All of a sudden it’s all legs-a-go-go. It runs down its web and then onto the side of the plastic box. When this happens, I say, “Oh boy, this is it! Here it comes!” and not just in my head, either. I say it out loud, or I think I say it out loud, anyway.
Do I say it out loud?
The tarantula stops running. It goes back to doing a whole lot of nothing again.
It’s like they always say: A watched tarantula never molts. Or maybe they do not say that. But if they don’t say it, they ought to start.
Ecstasy I did for the first time when I was fifteen, only I did not like the feeling so I never ever did it again. The first and last time, then. DMT, I was sixteen, I guess. Then there were pills that kept me from being depressed and pills to keep my blood in check. Doctors gave me those. I took those for a little while.
One pill made me larger and one pill made me small. And the ones that Mother gave me did not do anything at all…
I quit them. I quit taking all of them. I did not quit because of health or wealth or wisdom. Nothing like that. I just did not feel like it anymore, so I quit.
You, sitting there and reading this, you probably think I’ve been juxtaposing images of my getting sober with images of a tarantula molting for a reason. Like I was going to tell you about shedding my old skin or something.
But trust me: I do not have any sort of lesson here. No ulterior motive. There is no moral to this story.
Besides, this tarantula is not going to molt tonight.
I am sitting here on this mattress. I am stone cold sober. I am staring at this tarantula. Neither of us is going to do one damn thing tonight.