I am parched and exhausted this morning.
But on track to be a 40-year-sober 94-year-old woman.
I went to the state fair last night and had a hideous time. Some combination, no doubt, of it being my first sober fair and the fact that attendance was sparse. In the more central areas it was crowded but in the farther flung parts where I like to hang out, the streets were at 25% of normal and the buildings even less. That’s good in a virus-safety sort of way, but lousy for the morale.
It makes me realize that almost all of my challenges and adjustments in this sober life are internal. I don’t have a lot of social event “firsts” to learn how to get through sober. I don’t live in a world of drunken birthday parties, thanksgivings, new years eves, fourth of Julys. My friends don’t hardly drink. Make that, we don’t make it a centerpiece of our time together (although, of my close friends, one has quit (I suspect (though don’t know for sure) because he had been drinking when he had a horrific accident a couple of years ago (fell off the roof)), one drinks probably daily and has asked me repeatedly about my quitting alcohol and I’m guessing has an alcohol problem similar to mine, another one probably has some dependence, and another one had some dependence in the past and I’m guessing does again) — my three go-out-for-beers friends). So I’m not in the position of missing social drinking. My struggle is with sober time all alone.
But this state fair thing throws me for a loop. A few years ago Wolfie (addicted brain) decided that we could drink once a year, at the state fair. (“Once” meant “at the fair.” Since I often go two or even three times, that’s three drinking days.) What happened after that was startling. I started sneaking drinks a month in advance, and the drinking got riskier. I started spiralling before the “once a year.” And then of course it didn’t stop afterwards. I don’t remember how long is was before I got traction again — I think I hopped along with a few weeks of sobriety and then splat. Over and over.
Being there this time. I just kind of hated it. Didn’t like my mind. Maybe I don’t like the fair anymore — maybe it was just fun while drinking.
About 66% of the way through Wolfie thought it might help if we got a beer. That would fix the sad boredom. And then I immediately thought, what? waste a beer on this? Nice new voice in there. Wonder what that is.
So I had some corn and left. The fair is adjacent to one of the university campuses, one of the two where I have a long history. I worked there for several years before I went freelance and, more importantly, it’s where I basically wrote my dissertation. I walked slowly past my old haunts, thinking about and missing my grad school cronies and pondering how things — moments in life — dissipate. My beloved advisor moved out of state. My friends are in California, Massachusetts, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, North Carolina, and so on… I walked through a small patch of woods and sat down on a bench, the same bench where I took a break during my preliminary exams. No real point here, just my wandering after my so odd time clear cold sober in a place I thought I loved.
On the bright side, let me show you some of the things that happier Minnesotans are doing:
Last night it occurred to me that I needed a sober treat for surviving that thing. So I bought five new podcasts on belle’s site. I tend to use them as semi-background noise in the car and needed some fresh material!
This morning … brings relief. Yesterday was cathartic. I went, I didn’t drink, I came home, and life goes on. I will head out to the architectural salvage store. Will patch some walls and format report references on hydrogen for electricity production. Keep digging at that last fence post hole to see how close I can get it to the Minnesota-standard-but-never-achieved 48″. Can go back to spending words on other things.
Have a great weekend and thank you for reading.