I named my business “The Berry Street Garage” because, yes, my mother’s house was on Berry Street, and it fit so perfectly with the concept of my fresh fruit and vegetable juices I pressed and blended every day. I ran the entire operation out of my kitchen, where I pressed and packaged all the ingredients, and my garage, where I’d set up a storefront. After a successful marketing campaign (I had created social media accounts for the garage, posted ads in the paper and around town), I had regulars who stopped by for a juice every day.
For the first time, I was excited to wake up every day. I loved experimenting with different recipes and designing cute new labels. I pitched myself to health food stores and coffee shops, requesting they purchase and stock my juices, to great success.
I still went down to the bar every so often. The first time I went, a few months after starting my business, I broke into a cold sweat, thinking how much time I used to spend in the dirty little place. It felt like a lifetime ago, or like it had been somebody else that had sat here watching TV and getting wasted all day for years. Armed with a few of my juices in mason jars, I took a deep breath and walked in. The same bartender from over a year ago was there and did a double take when he saw me.
“Wow, Larissa, good to see you! I almost didn’t recognize you!”
I beamed at the compliment. I knew I was looking good. My skin was healthy and glowing, I was a healthy weight, and felt radiant from within. To somebody who had only seen me during the worst point of my alcoholism, it was a dramatic change.
I declined his offer of a whiskey on the rocks and instead handed him a juice, explaining that I was sober and running my own business. I saw Mark and Brian at the end of the bar, watching TV as if no time had passed at all. They were delighted to see me, saying they’d been worried since the last time they saw me was when I’d hit my head, over a year ago.
I told them proudly how that day had been a wakeup call, and how grateful I was to them for taking care of me. Otherwise, who knows what could have happened? I gave them some juices and explained my time in rehab and The Berry Street Garage. They looked genuinely happy for me.
A kept coming to see them, a couple of times a month, always bringing juice and checking on them. They were still alcoholics, but they were sort of like the dysfunctional father figures I never had. They bragged all the time at the bar to anyone who would listen about my business, and never pushed me to drink.
One day, I showed up, and Brian wasn’t there. I asked Mark where he was, and he told me that Brian had gone to rehab. Mark sounded both happy and sad about this. I was glad Brian was getting help, and I’m still hoping one day Mark will too. In the meantime, I keep visiting him and bringing him juice.