This time last year I fell off the wagon. I’d been enjoying a long period of sobriety, and life had never been better: I was excelling at work, the writing of my comedic mystery series was going well, and when someone took the seat on the train I’d had my eye on I didn’t feel compelled to cut that person into teeny, tiny pieces.
What piece of rock was lying in wait on the dirt road my sobriety wagon was traveling? What turd was floating in my alcohol-free punch bowl, drifting towards the ladle I was about to use to fill up my party cup? Why, my girlfriend’s birthday, of course.
Fast forward a year, my life is eerily similar. Tomorrow marks ten weeks’ sobriety. I’ve just finished the sixth novel in my comedic mystery series. And the Gregorian calendar being what it is, it’s now time to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday again.
Inappropriate use of the adverb eerily aside, there are a few differences. 1) I write this blog, which I’m sure has more use as a shrink/AA sponsor to me than it has as useful reading material for its three regular readers, 2) I’ve never been more committed to ensuring I stay sober, and 3) I’ve learned the exact spot to stand on the train to ensure I have the maximum chance of swooping in on a seat before the vultures have a chance to beat me to it.
But still I find myself traveling on a wagon, inexplicably trying to enjoy a bowl of alcohol-free punch. And that rock? Lying there, waiting to fuck with my wagon, making the turd fly into my party cup (which is my confused metaphor for celebrating my girlfriend’s birthday tonight, and the dangers of relapsing because of the occasion.)
We won’t be having a party, which I’ve wrote about preparing for here, but the importance of the occasion was enough to make the beer shelves at the store more alluring than they had been in weeks. Instead of just rushing past them, I stopped and looked at my old friends. We shook hands, and they asked why I hadn’t phoned. I did what any flaky, unreliable friend would do: made some excuse about having to rush home and water my cacti.
Of course, they knew it was an excuse. And when I go to the store today—to buy ingredients to make alcohol-free punch, now that I think about it—they’ll no doubt try to remind me of the good times we had together a year ago. Maybe one will invite me to his summer 2017 wedding as I rush past, and I’ll tell him I think I’ll be in Disneyworld on the date he didn’t specify.
What I’m trying to say, apart from that I make a shitty friend, is that this year I’ve learned more than seat-grabbing strategy for the train. I’ve learned that the wagons of old should’ve really had seatbelts. And that the metaphorical one in my mind does: seatbelts that symbolize strength of mind, resolve, and the ability to gracefully jog while carrying a basket full of groceries.
This year, unlike last year, I’ll wake up tomorrow morning without a hangover, and I have no doubt that when I’m poking at my iPad and enjoying a green tea, those fuck-off rocks that come around twice a year (once for my birthday, once for the ol’ ball and chain) won’t seem as big and shitty as they do now.
Thanks for reading! Even though this week’s post was bordering on gibberish. If you have a birthday party to attend, you’ll find more gibberish on how to tackle it sober here. For those who haven’t, you’ll find other sobriety-themed gibberish linked to on the right side of the blog.
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Stay sober, stay happy, and whatever you do, don’t try to drink turd-tainted punch while traveling in a wagon.
Days sober: 69
My comedic mystery series, which I write mainly while traveling on party wagons, can be checked out here.
Head on over to my Facebook page, like it, and say hi, and I’ll reply with gibberish and an Emoji.