My Road to Recovery: High Above the Stately River

I went to Hanover College in the Fall of 1982 in my 1967 Plymouth Belvedere loaded with a wardrobe full of fake Izods and a pocketful of dreams.  With generous scholarships footing the bill and an abundant monthly allowance from my father, I had more disposable income than I’ve ever had in my life.  And that’s just what I did – dispose of it.  From pouring gas into my gas-guzzling Plymouth for road trips to treating friends to endless supplies of beer and pizza, I fueled my pursuit of happiness only to wind up going nowhere.

I was eager to understand God.  While I read Milton’s Paradise Lost and the other classics, I learned the saying that goes –

Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.  
So I consumed vast quantities of beer – at first only on the weekends, but soon through the week as well.  The frat houses provided it free out of kegs, but I wasn’t satisfied waiting in long lines to fill up tiny plastic cups with as much “head” as “hops”, so I made friends with various “brothers” I would chip in to buy beer in cans by the cases and would sit in rooms listening to early U2 and REM and pontificating on the meaning of the universe.

I started smoking my sophomore year – mostly Marlboro cigarettes.  In my junior year, I found my way into the subculture heavily invested in Kentucky cannabis and started smoking pot daily.  My senior year, I had some minor surgery.  There were complications from the surgery and I was able to get unlimited prescriptions of Percocet (pain reliever) and Demerol (muscle relaxant).

Either by the grace of God or by other forces intent on propping me up so I could crash from a higher peak, I managed to accomplish a great deal in spite of my drug use.  I wrote over 50 articles for the campus newspaper “The Triangle”, served as a “Student Advisor” (like an RA) for two years, had some minor roles in theater productions and played two years of varsity tennis.  I was even elected SRAB chair (Hanover’s equivalent of Student Body President).  Yet, through it all, I was on a desperate and miserable pursuit of something that only Someone could satisfy.
To give you a better picture of what I looked like back then, I’ll include 3 pictures from my graduation weekend.  You can then see how graduating “cum laude” in my case it didn’t just mean “with honors” but also “with much liquor”.
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Listening to John Prine on my way to a rousing game of Frisbee football, outfitted in my “Canadian Mist” sponsor cap, hand-painted t-shirt, Salvation Army work pants and shoes with “holes in the soles where the Wind blows through”.
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Paying rapt attention during graduation rehearsal, with a future so bright I’ve got to wear shades and a t-shirt from the grad school (Indiana University) I would drop out of before attending the first class.
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My father and I, with my “graduation bonus” – a fifth of Jim Beam.  It appears by the time someone grabbed a camera to take this picture, it was half-empty (or is that half-full)?

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