We've seen this film before. It's January, so you know what that means: I re-up my commitment to blog and I argue that this time it will be different. I already did a blog this month, but this one I started a little bit earlier than last week's blog. Anyway. Who knows if it is going to work this time. And what does it matter to you?
In the face of mounting dread about getting older, mourning who I used to be or what I thought I was going to be, and just a general sense of unease about where I am in my own recovery journey, I went on a little walk last weekend to go get an afternoon cup of coffee. Getting out of the house gets me out of my own head, or at least affords me time to do something else—taking a step with my left foot, taking another step to my right foot, and repeating it a few thousand times—while processing these emotions.
I'm five years, six months and twenty-one days sober as I write this. When it publishes it will hopefully be five years, six months and twenty-nine days. I have no desire to drink alcohol at this moment, and I don't plan to. I'm free of any other substances, too. So why does it feel like all this is so tenuous? I don't know. There are bad days and there are good days. I've never seriously worked the AA program, but the bad days make me seriously consider thinking about checking out a meeting.
In the last couple years I became enamored with non-alcoholic beers. And I signed up for a program that would deliver them on a monthly basis and I got to try the latest in near-beer technology. In one of the only three AA meetings I ever attended in early sobriety, I heard the adage "non-alcoholic beer is for non-alcoholics." In those meetings, there was always something for me to roll my eyes at, and always something for me to understand later. Is that wisdom?
Anyway as I continued to plod my way around town, taking my little steps, worrying about whether I'd slip on the freshly frozen snow and wind up on my ass or gifting myself the opportunity to heal up my right knee for the one millionth time. Why do I always land on my right knee? I ended up on Commonwealth Avenue and approached the weed block, as I am calling it. There are neighboring cannabis dispensaries, one a couple years more established, and one that is fairly new. I am not sure about the thought process of opening a cannabis dispensary a few feet from another one. That is not why I'm writing about this. If I did write about this I'd probably ask something like: In such a highly regulated industry, how does zoning even permit this happening? Is there seriously that much demand that necessitates competition like this?
Anyway, that newer cannabis store is always trying to gin up business. There tends to be someone on the sidewalk trying to hand out some sort of coupon. I tend to have my headphones in so I can easily put my hands up to dismiss them and walk by without engaging, like the dedicated introvert I am.
This time, there was a little more effort from the guy to get me to take the coupon. I put my hands up and said "No thanks, not today."
He replied, "Are you sure?" and a little after I had already dismissed him and walked by I heard him say "It'd pair well with your coffee!" That I'm sure of—for most people, it might do something for them. Why not.
I wanted to say back, but it doesn't pair well with me.
This story would work so much better if that was a liquor salesman.
"Flying Over Water" by Jason Isbell
Southeastern, the astonishing record by Jason Isbell, turned ten last year. It got reissued with remasters, demos, live cuts, and some new album art. It is almost entirely intertwined with Isbell's early recovery and romance with his wife, Amanda Shires. It is a story about hard-won redemption and reckoning with the demons one has the fortune of running away from when they drink or use.
"Where's that liquor cart? Maybe we shouldn't start" from "Flying Over Water" is one of those lines that just sticks in my mind.
I remember being on an airplane recently and witnessed a couple effortlessly scheme to befriend and get the flight attendant to hand off free (international flight) mini bottle after mini bottle of red wine. It was a masterclass, it was impressive. Sometimes you just gotta tip your cap.