Katie MacBride | Longreads | April 2018 | 11 minutes (2,641 words)
They found me outside my cubicle, flat on the ground, wearing my winter coat, with my purse slung over my shoulder. I had worked there less than two months. I took the position because, six months after graduating college, I still didn’t have a “real” job, no matter how much I tried to convince myself that sporadic babysitting gigs amounted to what was listed on my resume as “professional nanny.”
The job was in Chicago; before I took it, I was living with my parents in my childhood home in California. I was sleeping in my childhood bedroom, working essentially the same job as I had in high school. My entire existence felt like glaring proof of my failure to become an adult, as if I were trapped in a kind of pre-adulthood purgatory — one I would have done anything to escape. So I took a job I didn’t want, in a city that was cold and unfamiliar and where I knew exactly one person, my sister. With lofty and wildly inaccurate ideas about how fun having me around might be, my sister invited me to live with her until I found a place of my own.
Two months into my time in Chicago, when they found me passed out in front of my cubicle, it wasn’t hard for them to figure out who to call on the way to the hospital. There was still only one number with a Chicago area code in my phone.
I don’t remember any of that, of course. I only remember waking up on a gurney in an emergency room that looked like every other one I’d ever found myself in. There had been a lot of them. Two years earlier, I had spent nearly a month in the hospital, after doctors performed two emergency surgeries on my colon. It was a congenital defect, a sleeper cell in my body since birth, waiting to explode.
Was it happening again? I had been having stomach problems;more specifically, I had been shitting blood. I looked around the fluorescent chaos of the ER for a doctor to whom I could tell my medical woes. What I would not tell a doctor — what wouldn’t even occur to me to mention — is that I’d been drinking a fifth of vodka every day for the past six months.