Last night after a 3 hour, intensive yoga seminar, I felt nothing but hunger. And so we ventured out for a late bite to eat at Tryst. The place was packed with people drinking and hanging out, having a good time. There was one girl, in the back. I only noticed her because at first I thought she was Drunk Girl (aka our neighbor). This girl turned out to be just one, drunk girl. She was throwing back beer as if conquering a dare. I watched her drop two into the back of her throat. When the bottle was held upright once more, the index and middle finger came to her lips as if to hold back vomit or, at the very least, a gag. It was something I could literally not take my eyes off of at first. And then something occurred to me, I have been her before. There was that time I fell off the stool at Stetsons. There was the time I got in a fight at Galapagos, There was the time I tripped over an imaginary wrinkle on a rug and fell flat on my nose. There was that time I passed out on the floor, my arms wrapped around the toilet bowl waiting for someone to please come kill me as I was too drunk to do so myself. I have been the idiot, drunk and foolish, highly comical, always that safety around enabling someone to think, “It could be worse, I could be her.”
Somehow drinking became a habitual necessity within an everyday life – within my everyday life. I’m not sure why it happened. But it did. The words, “Hey, you want to meet for a drink?” have crossed my lips and ears thousands of times. Booze. It’s what’s for dinner and dessert. Booze. It just is. And it works that way well. Some even believe booze was created to keep a working man stay-put, stuck, and constantly frustrated by running so very fast while standing so very still – a perpetual motion, down and drunk, ready to work in order to consume more. After a long talk one day, three weeks ago, Toby and I decided to take a break from the booze, clean ourselves out. Well, I decided to take a break for a while. He did so just to be kind. “Solidarity,” he said. (Squared)
I was a bit worried. Within the first few days, I wondered if I’d be able to do it. It’s summer. Somehow summer seems coupled with booze. I wasn’t sure I could do it, not that I’d miss the taste of alcohol, but that I would succumb to the habit too easily. I asked Toby that we not discuss a time frame, but instead just take it day by day, and see where it takes us because If I think of anything as ‘Forever’ I’ll get scared and probably fail.
So that was it. Just like that, I gave up drinking. . . at least for now.
At the doctor’s office the other day the nurse asked, “What is your age?” I thought, that’s easy, “23”. I haven’t been 23 for many years but it’s always the first number which comes to my mind when asked about my age. 23. Always 23. “I’m 29” I answered after realizing 23 is just not so anymore.
Later that evening, on the way to the pottery studio I was feeling slightly proud of myself when something occurred to me. “Wanna hear something kinda sad?” I asked Toby. “I haven’t gone more than a week, maybe even a few days, without a drink since I was 23.”
Let’s look at 23. When I was 23, I was just graduating from college. (I had taken a year off to live in England, hence the older age). I was thin and fit. I worked for Penn State creating playbills. I worked in a video store and as a waitress. I had so much energy and what felt like so much time. I was so very excited about my life. I knew, one day, I’d spend time in New York City. I knew I’d travel other places. I knew I’d make enough money to buy toys. Hell, the details are boring, and quite honestly, I really don’t remember them all. I do remember a grand old feeling of elation, safety, and fearlessness for the unknown. Why snag oneself up on all life’s petty details when one has the entire story to comprehend? I think I’m in need of some story finally. That’s the new detail.
“Some people who gave up drinking have said it’s as if all the time spent drinking their life was on pause. They didn’t know it while drinking, but it was apparent after they became sober.” Toby said while standing in the kitchen stirring sauce, or boiling noodles, maybe steeping tea.
Since I stopped consuming alcohol entirely, I have been swept up by thoughts I haven’t been in touch with for a very long time. I have had this bit of excitement and energy I didn’t even know I was missing until now. And while I’m not an alcoholic – as stopping was entirely too easy for me – there was definitely something missing, wrong, or absent from my life, and only after stepping aside have I begun to see that. And my energy alone is enough to keep me interested.
I’m not even sure what it is I’m trying to say here or why I feel compelled to write anything at all about what I’ve been up to or not up to. And while I’m certain I’ll have a drink again someday, it’s nice to understand it’s not the necessity many people make it out to be, and that you do actually feel better when it’s removed, and that it is possible to talk to people without employing your hands and your head with a drink. And that sometimes, that bit of you you’re trying to squelch is the bit which actually matters.
And maybe tomorrow or next week sometime I will finally be 29. :]
As the resident bartender on mihow.com, I was just telling my friend that there are some people that come into this bar every. damn. day. And even when I’m working, I don’t drink after (or during) every shift. Some of these people have kind of a permanent stoned stare, and it makes me kinda wonder what they’re avoiding. Most of the time, I think it’s their wives and marriages (from what they tell me).
It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? I bet you’ve seen a side of it that I can’t even imagine. :[
I wish there were a way to open them up somehow, let them realize the good things.
There are these men on our street corner who literally take their cloths off and lie around in their own vomit and piss. They are hardcore drunks and it’s so damn sad, I can’t even put it into words how sad it is. It’s enough to make you wonder how they got there, and do everything you can do avoid your best guess.
I probably hear the phrase, “Something’s gonna kill me,” about once every shift.
Addictions are frequent and many. It’s not just alcohol, unfortunately.
wow. I know you know this, or at least I know toby does. I have a bit of a family history with the drink. A situation which led me to not drink at all until I was about 23. And even though I drink now, I am still hyper aware of what could happen, or to phrase it another way, terrified of what could happen. So even though I can and do get completely fucked up its only when I know it’s ok. There is a conscience thing where I say to myself “is it ok to be drunk in this situation” and “do I have support if something goes wrong…” I am guessing a lot of people do the same exact thing, but I can’t drink at all without those sorts of questions going through my head.
anyway, I think a little self awareness goes a long way with this kind of thing. I think it’s rad for you to write about it. Seriously.
You just made me smile, Mike. And then get a feeling of weepy.
I have attempted writing about this many times over the past few weeks, but have been scared of my possible failure in fighting that urge. Today, I felt better, asked Toby if he thought it was “ok” and decided fuck it.
glad i could make ya smile. And in my head you will always be 23, even though it was comforting to find out that we are the same age.
It’s a good age. It’s my birthdate age. 29. And it’s a, clean, odd number.
But I look forward to 30.
30 scares me.
both of you shut up.
30 is nothing.
this is silly i know, but i have these life long goals and all of them have come to be except one. And that one thing was supposed to happen at 30…
damn i am a nerd.
sorry mihow, mike just pointed out that you said you were looking forward to 30 so i shouldn’t have told you to shut up.
forgive me, i’m old. sometimes i don’t know what i’m saying.
Woman! It’s totally ok. :]
I was lying anyway. heh
What a great thought to begin/enter an Independence Day weekend.
I think it’s wonderful that you have gained some perspective on this, not that I suspect you lacked it. Sometimes we don’t realize that life is full of choices and that our habits or way of life are not etched in stone or predetermined, that they are in fact quite fluid, and sometimes a minor tweak of those seemingly immutable routines can be more illuminating than we would ever anticipate. Maybe that is the beauty of freedom: the chance to see the world differently simply because we can choose to change something about ourselves.
I’ve been interested in fasting lately for the same reason … not only for the supposed physical cleansing it’s supposed to offer, but the psychological one.
One of the things I hope to achieve, however, is not a surge of new thoughts and feelings (I’m a stimulation junkie as it is) but the opposite: a natural calmness, a quieting of the chatter and flights of fancy and noise that I fill my head with when I’m not feeding my face.
We had a conversation last night on fasting. It’d be fun, I think.
I have to admit, I’ve been very excited lately, watching my body totally change by way of yoga. So that’s a new hobby of sorts. Might be more fun by introducing a new diet as well.
Please keep me posted on your decision. If you do it or not. I’d love to hear.
A friend of mine fasts a few times a year; he is just wrapping up a 2-week juice/water fast.
I think 2 weeks is a little excessive, but what do I know. I’m all full of toxins. :)
Anyway, if you’d ever like any advice, maybe I could get him to answer some questions for you.
good for you