On Monday I went to a free ‘Introduction to British Sign Language’ evening course. I cycled there, and got a bit lost. I stopped to ask for directions and – this being the sort of thing that happens to me – the dude I ask is deaf. He manages to give me pretty good directions, considering all I know of BSL pre-course is limited to the finger spelling alphabet and the makaton for ‘biscuit’ and ‘toilet’ due to teenage years spent volunteering with children with special needs. The course was great – and so I have signed up for the 6 month level one course. Mr RockstarPirateDinosaur pointed out that with the amount I drink, I’ve pretty much paid for the course if I don’t drink for 3 months. A sobering thought indeed.
And so, we’re two weeks into January. We’ve successfully navigated the allegedly most depressing day of the year, and the dry Januaryists have survived a third of their abstinence.
I haven’t worked out how far into mine I am because I think it will scare me out of it, and I kind of feel like ‘getting through it’ is the wrong attitude for me. I need to keep reminding myself that I am doing it to learn more about me, to reconnect to the me that can have fun without booze. To wish that to happen faster, to ‘get through that’, would be to do myself out of the experiences I need.
There have been three wobbles.
1 – At birthday drinks for a friend and long time drinking buddy where (due to being hopeless at remembering things like birthday cards) I bought him a birthday shot. I asked the barman for something ‘tasty and different’ and he winked at me, saying ‘I have just the thing’. He brought a bottle up from a hidden cupboard under the bar which seemed to contain liquid sunshine. I could smell the caramel aroma as he poured it into the shot glass. I nearly licked the damn glass. Apparently it was a toffee vanilla liqueur. I didn’t ask the brand and I am not about to google it. But it did make it to the birthday boy. Lick free.
2 – Mr RockstarPirateDinosaur had some bandmates over to record some tunes. The drummer brought along something called Pirate Rum. It had a skull and crossbones on it. It smelled like chocolate and islands and warm spice. I smelt the bottle repeatedly. We had a conversation about whether or not *tasting* is cheating. I suspect it is. I didn’t taste it. Or lick the bottle.
3 – A discussion on my facebook about a glittery fruit juice purchased to make not drinking more exciting led to how delicious and exciting it would be if you mixed it with Smirnoff gold leaf cinnamon vodka. I didn’t buy any. Or lick the screen.
There have also been some highs which more than balance the wobbles. Not drinking has meant that I’ve got back on my bike. I once cycled everywhere but somehow got out of the habit a few years ago when I broke my hand in February and my rib in April and never really got back on other than to cycle to work. This weekend I’ve clocked up around 35 miles – cycling to fun events at which I would normally drink heavily. The first an air hockey tournament at which I was knocked out in the first round – with only my poor motor skills to blame without the cheap bottles of rose the venue sells which are my usual excuse. Games were played, dodgems were (not) dodged, and I cycled through central London for the aforementioned birthday party. Today I cycled to Canary Wharf and back for the London Ice Sculpture festival. I am feeling pretty pleased with myself. You can call it ‘smug’ if you like, but I will stick with ‘proud’.
I had some interesting conversations at the birthday party – many friends had seen this blog and knew of my intentions. Others were hearing for the first time. Some were supportive – one told me of a new definition of ‘alcoholic’ he’d heard at Halloween (another spectacular fail of a booze night for me – I don’t remember the last hour and I lost my house keys). Someone had said that alcoholism isn’t just needing to drink all the time, or having to have a whiskey with your cereal. An alcoholic is someone who, once they start drinking, sees no reason to stop. That definitely describes me on a night out. Just having one has never seemed an option. Some were less supportive, or supportive in their own unique way – for example offering to pour shots into my lime and soda while I wasn’t looking. I had a chat with an old friend who has been booze free for some years now, who said “look at it this way, when you’re giving up alcohol just getting to the end of the day without drinking any is a successful day. You could sit in your bed all day eating jaffa cakes and watching bad films and at the end of the day you’ve still achieved something.”
I definitely had a lot of fun this weekend. My ‘wobbles’ were more about wanting to *try* booze than *drink* booze, and I found myself perfectly able to have fun, be silly, let myself go and talk to people without alcohol assistance. It’s possible that the conversations I had with friends were considerably more coherent than usual. Today I even got the giggles, along with 2 fellow dry Januaryists, so much so that we all cried with laughter. Hilarity can ensue during arguments over whether sprouts are ‘evil sulphur balls of doom’ or ‘fun sized cabbages’ just as much sober as hammered.
Next weekend will be an even bigger test – a wedding reception…