Here’s another memoir excerpt in the order the excerpts appear in Left of the Dial:
Now I was alone with the memories of last New Year’s Eve. It was the end of 1986, and Sinead was spinning records on-air that night. I drove over to the radio station with a couple of six packs of Harp’s. Carny and I hung out in the women’s room across the hall, drinking and laughing and having a good time.
We weren’t allowed to drink in the studio or the radio station office and most likely shouldn’t have been drinking on campus at all. We hid the containers in a stall while drinking in front of the sinks. Willy joined us at nine o’clock. His eyes were sullen moons, and his nostrils flared as if he had done a bump. I got the idea that my presence was an inconvenience to him, and he went along with Carny to please her.
We ordered pizza, and he reluctantly trudged outside to the guard booth of the parking lot to retrieve it. Domino’s—they would deliver in under a half hour. He ordered one with pepperoni and, to humor me, bought a second one with mushrooms only.
Sinead slipped in during a long song to have a slice.
For the last hour of the radio show, we joined her at the microphone. She called her show “The Year-End, Rear End Review of 1986 Record Picks” and mixed the top 120 songs the disc jockeys played on the radio for the last twelve months.
Carny and Sinead both announced the songs with glee, laughing through the chorus of “Year-End, Rear End Review of 1986 Record Picks.” Over and over they shouted out those words.
It was like I was hovering in space. That night I was far away from the island and suspended in hope.
Sinead closed down the studio and locked the office doors at two in the morning. We each carried a six pack out to my car so I could dispose of the evidence elsewhere. I drove everyone home like my car was an airplane—with a sure hand. I had stopped drinking when Willy arrived and was clear-headed by the time we had to leave.
Tonight I tucked this memory in my mind to retrieve again when I was feeling blue. At six in the morning, I stood washing and scrubbing the dishes at the kitchen sink. I looked out the window at the silent, empty world that would never be mine.
Tears flowed uncontrollably. It was the lowest point of my life. I had hit rock bottom and couldn’t see a way out of my pain. I sat in the wicker chair in my room, crying for two hours.
The Fetchin’ Bones lyrics to the song “Too Much” drifted into my head. I saw my whole life, and it was truly too much. I was ready to consider pulling the plug.