During my fits and starts of trying to quit alcohol over the last couple of years, there were a few situations or events where I could not imagine not drinking. I felt like I couldn’t give those up. Thought-experiment style, I would try to work a deal with myself in which I could keep them. I’d moderate around them. Sure, it might take a little effort to back away again from the alcohol afterwards, but it was worth it and I could do it, right? I’m not sure why these in particular were so hard to think about leaving behind.
When I started out on this new, finally successful “quit,” I still couldn’t picture life without them. But over the last few weeks I’ve started to be able to. I want to record these ideas, in case when the time comes, it’s tough.
These aren’t regular occurrences, fortunately. I have only three friends with whom I commonly drink—and only two who I see often—and both of these people nary batted an eyelash when I started ordering nonalcoholic beer when we were out. Since beer was so central to our outings, I thought I’d tell them each directly that I had stopped drinking alcohol (I said for the time being). They were unconcerned.
So, the problem areas. Two are people and two are events—two social, two the equivalent of drinking alone. The people are my aunt and my partner’s brother. Isn’t that strange? Why them? As I think about this, the only thing they have in common is that they are the two coolest people I know in that generation. My aunt, my dad’s older sister, I’ve sort of adopted in a mom-like way since my own mom died nine years ago. Except that my aunt is someone I’d spend three days with any time; we’re friends. My partner’s brother I’ve known for only a few years, but he’s a great, insightful cool guy almost of my aunt’s generation (partner is older than me and his brother is older than him, hence all those years). Both of these people commonly enjoy a glass or two of wine, and I have enjoyed sharing that wine with them.
In the months preceding this new year, I wanted to quit alcohol except for visits to them (both live many hundreds of miles from me). But now the rhythm of not drinking (no more afternoon cravings!) is so familiar, and the benefits are so very nice, that I can conceive of hanging out with them drinking only my (awesome) cream soda. Though I do still wonder why I care specifically about them.
And then there are the events—the state fair and a festival the next state over. These are more dangerous because drinking there is drinking alone, essentially. (Drinking alone among a few hundred thousand people.) I love going to the state fair by myself, and for some reason I got in the habit of having a few beers as I walked my route. I’d go two or three times each year. Why did I feel the need to numb out when I’m voluntarily going to a wild, jubilant place? The same question applies to the festival. It’s pure fun for me. I’m around like-minded people and am learning about things that fascinate me. Several years ago they started a beer tent, and boy do people, including me, love it. It opens at noon. You can buy a glass and get $3 refills, you can wander through the sessions and vendors with said glass of beer. Pretty damn nice.
I feel better about going to these also without drinking, though I’ve thought about skipping them this year. Especially the state fair. No, especially the festival. (Well, then!) I’ll skip them if I feel the least bit nervous. Better to stay home weeding my garden and watching the bees fly.
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