beer

THE MOST BORING PERSON IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

Let me get this straight. You want me to wake up at 5AM without a hangover, pack up a rental car with suitcases responsibly packed a day or more in advance, then drive 3 hours through the beautiful terrain of the Hudson Valley until I reach a cozy bed and breakfast in a house built in the 1870’s? Fine. I can do all that.

I suppose you also want me to stroll lightheartedly through the quaint vacation town, browsing antiques and old bookstores for hours on end, and I also suppose you’d like me to do all of that without spending a moment plotting, scheming, or obsessing over how I can convince the boyfriend that 10AM isn’t at all too early for a celebratory glass of something.

You’d like me to luxuriate luxuriously on cafe terraces while sipping espresso and eating a delicious, flaky pastry filled with tangy, tart lemon curd, chewing slowly, not wanting the mouth orgasm to end, watching the peaceful wanderers wander by in pursuit of the same contented Sunday afternoon.

And finally, you’d like me to end the day with a delectable meal at a lovely restaurant, all without having chugged a tallboy before leaving the house. You’d like me to decline the wine list, only order stupid food, and leave completely satisfied with what was one of the best meals I’ve ever had? Then you’d like me to cuddle up with the boys, watch movies, and drift off to sleep by 10PM, waking up by 6AM the next morning fully rested and hangover free, ready to start another day of peace and tranquility without the constant chaotic chase of that next sip, that next dip into a dive for a whisky/beer combo to propel me forward miserably.

You want me to have a sober vacation, but more importantly, you want me to LIKE IT?

That’s exactly what I did over Memorial Day Weekend.

It was marvelous. 

I took this very same trip in the fall of 2013. It was a disgusting mess. I packed the very morning we left because I was too drunk the night before to get anything productive done. I drove with a pounding headache, not feeling normal until we made it to our destination and were able to grab lunch (a beer with a side of sandwich). I stumbled through the day, counting down the hours until dinner would arrive and heavier drinking could begin. Fuck antiques. Fuck strolling. Fuck serenity. Me want vodka. ME WANT DEATH AND DESTRUCTION.

In 2013, we made stops at liquor stores all weekend long, him sitting in the car while I ran in to buy large bottles of things for us both to drink, as well as mini-bottles he didn’t know about that were just for me. The minis would be stashed in my suitcase so I could stealthily sneak away, downing a few here and there, hoping to keep the levels in the “public” alcohol bottles located in the kitchen from dropping down too quickly, thus concealing the true quantities I was actually consuming. Side note: These empty minis would be found one year later in the same suitcase as I packed for another trip. I would sneak them out of the house to the trash, the shame flooding back as fresh as ever. 

That trip in 2013 was total misery. I was in a constant state of sloppy, painful drunkenness peppered with extended periods of sloppy, painful hangover. The drunks and the hangovers blended seamlessly with one another until I was never able to tell if I was okay or not okay. Nothing was enjoyable.

When we returned home that year I felt as if I had been through hell. I needed another vacation to recover. And drink more.

I DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT EVER AGAIN.

I can live. I can stare at the sky and smile. I can savor time, tastes, smells. I can become consciously aware of sun on my face, of the antiquity and inevitable history built into old objects that I hold in my hand. I can feel the goosebumps running down my spine as my boyfriend grabs my fingers and squeezes while we wander down cobblestone streets, stopping for extended moments to admire the architecture and manicured gardens.

Before I got sober, and even for some time after I put down the drink, this all seemed impossible. During early sobriety I could hardly comprehend watching a movie on Friday night without a cocktail. I’m supposed to SIT? Stare? Watch? That’s IT? You must be out of your goddamned mind.

But I made myself sit there and watch the movie. It sucked. It still sucked the next time I did it, too, but less so. The only way anything started to make sense again was by LIVING. Experiencing. Trying. Being uncomfortable without grabbing for my medicine. When they tell you not to give up before the miracle happens, that actually MEANS something. Actively choosing to endure the discomfort when every cell in your body is screaming for a drink? That makes you stronger. That is lifting weights with your sobriety muscles. It hurts. You’ll be sore the next day. But you’ll never get stronger without it.

If you’re struggling, just know that with some time and effort, you too can be the most boring person in the Hudson Valley. You’ll love it.

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CONFESSION: JUST ORDERED SOME BEERS ONLINE

I just finished selecting a lovely array of craft beers online from a local delivery service while sipping a cup of strong coffee. I got an Ommegang Hennepin, a Westmalle, and a Dogfish Head Theobroma. I’m familiar with all three but am especially fond of the Ommegang. So delicious but poison to me, nonetheless. I carefully entered the billing information as my own and entered my credit card before advancing to the next screen. Delivery information was next and a checkbox was preselected which populated my address as delivery location. Beers would be here in 30 minutes if I left it as is. It isn’t bad enough that I can be inside a liquor store within 2 minutes if I really wanted to? It’s just around the corner. I’ve stumbled there hundreds of times. But now I can easily and discreetly have my poison sent to my home, too? Fucking fantastic. 

Check this box if delivery location is same as billing. Fuck no, it isn’t. I unchecked the box and entered the info for my friend Steve who just finished his degree and is holding a celebration on the roof of his fantastic apartment in Brooklyn. I’ve been to several events there and each ends with me pretty lit by early evening and a massive hangover always follows. The crowd that usually attends is fairly mature, a little older than I am, and a lot of people have and bring their children. Everyone drinks to varying degrees but I’m somewhat certain I always had much more than anyone else there. I’m pretty confident that I never acted a fool or flashed my titties or anything obscenely sexy like that. But like any other social setting where interacting with strangers was a required activity, it always ended badly as I desperately tried to get myself to a place where I could “be myself.” Before I relapsed almost 6 years ago, I had no problem with sober social situations. The last 6 years of drinking have essentially stripped me of any social skills I once had. And while I’m very gradually noticing an increase in confidence, I knew that going to Steve’s today at this early stage of sobriety simply isn’t an option for me right now. I accepted that as fact and refused to get worked up about it. 

So in lieu of my inevitably awkward sober ass, I sent him alcohol. I could have sent flowers or cupcakes or something equally generic. Some might argue that perusing an online liquor store isn’t the ideal Saturday afternoon activity for me. But Steve is not an alcoholic (that I know of). This is Steve’s day and Steve wants to celebrate and Steve wouldn’t want cupcakes or flowers. He would want good beers. So that’s what I sent. And to be totally honest, I feel fine about it. I would NOT have felt fine about trekking to Brooklyn, stopping at a liquor store, holding the bottles in my hand, going to his place, etc. So I did what I could do and that’s ENOUGH. 

It makes me happy that he’s so happy today. We can congratulate and celebrate with our friends in our own ways. There is nothing we are required to do and although some of our activities in early sobriety might limit us, it doesn’t mean we have to lose the qualities that our friends have come to love in us: loyalty, gratitude, and a genuine interest in their well being and accomplishments. 

Since I decided that today is not a good day to be drunk on a roof, I’m filling the time with exercise, reading, writing, walking in the fresh air, playing with the puppy, and being thankful that I know people who will ultimately love me no matter what. I need to take this time to myself to recover so I can eventually get back to the party so people like Steve don’t have to spend their special days without me there to pat them on the back and be the friend that they deserve. 

CONGRATS, STEVE. WE LOVE YOU. CHEERS.