Actually, it’s a year and a day. Yesterday was the official one-year mark.
I didn’t celebrate, or I should say I didn’t celebrate any differently than I celebrate any other day. I spent time with family. I coached a Little League baseball practice for my son and his teammates. I made dinner for my ageing and ailing parents. I gave my son a bath and put him to bed.
Pretty good ways to celebrate, huh?
Two thoughts come to mind with the one-year mark under my belt:
First: I Can Do Anything. Because in powering through an entire year, I encountered every potential drinking situation. My birthday. Christmas. Easter. Summer barbecues. Camping trips. Dinner parties. Golf outings. Business trips. Family vacation. Ski trips. Good days, bad days, work days, awful days.
In a year, you see a lot. And if you can make it through everything the calendar throws at you, well then you can pretty much make it through anything, right? No excuses. Just keep going. Because you’ve just proven that you can do it, so there are no excuses.
Second: The Town Drunk. Last week we took a trip to the mountains for one last ski trip of the season. It’s a long drive through mostly desert, including some tiny desert towns that are straight out of the movies. It was a magical trip, with huge blooms of desert wildflowers for miles and miles, and me and my wife chatting in the front seat as our son read through a few mystery books in the back as the miles flew by.
We stopped for lunch at a cafe in one of those tiny desert towns. I could hear a friendly but slightly-too-loud conversation from near the front door, and knew in an inkling what it meant. My discomfort grew. When it came time to pay the bill I walked up to the register and within sight of him, a white-haired and wrinkled man drinking beer at 11 am. He was trying to be friendly, and the small-town waitresses clearly judged him to be harmless. He tried to engage me in a rambling conversation and I replied as politely as I could without encouraging him. Of course, he didn’t get the hints. He kept loudly talking, asking me questions, telling me about his life. We were able to escape his attention when he was distracted for a moment. My son was confused and a little scared. We left quickly.
It saddened me. It painted a picture in stark relief, showing that alcohol never makes anything better. Whatever regrets he had, setbacks he’d faced, or sadness he felt, the beer wasn’t going to make them any better. If he remembered us at all, he’d surely look back with regret at the family of travelers that he’d amiably harassed.
I don’t know what the future holds, what setbacks I’ll face or sadness I’ll feel. I just know that I have no interest in using alcohol to ‘help’ me through them.
And I hope that friendly, drunken, grizzled old man gets some help.
Now, back to something happier: One Year! It really is something, isn’t it? I never did figure out what to get myself as a reward. I’ll figure it out. Believe me, it will be something good!