December 16, 2012 – One year to the day since I quit drinking (i.e., “right about the time my head was being lowered into the backseat of a squad car.”) And so, the question that now greets me, perhaps more often than any other: Do I regret cutting alcohol out of my life entirely?
Well, the answer is: Sometimes, sure. Particularly now, as we enter the stretch run that carries straight through until New Years. Once a week or so, I’ll wander past a corner bar late at night and imagine how nice it might be to just saunter on in and nonchalantly ease my way back into the groove. But it’s the romanticism – not the reality – of those moments that always seems to get me. And yet, it’s that very same romanticism that always seems to dissipate once I get another block or two removed. The night is forever young, after all. And even on those rare occasions when it isn’t, the following morning I know I’ll wake up with fresh eyes and a clear head.
Is it more difficult to meet people these days? Why, yes, it certainly is more difficult to meet people these days. But I’ve given up trying to force that type of thing. I’ve been there. I’ve done that … several times, in fact. With every conceivable type of return. When and if I have an opportunity to start dating again, I sure as shit want it to be for all the right reasons. In the meantime, I can assure you I’m not banging down anybody’s door, in much the same way I can assure you there’s nobody banging down mine.
Social events, well now, they’re a mixed bag. The first half of any outing is far and away the most uncomfortable, what with everybody mingling and drinking and inquiring why it is that I am so obviously not. But once the actual event settles in, whatever awkward feelings I might’ve harbored just kind of vanish into the ether. At some point it’ll inevitably dawn on me the event is almost over, and rather than head home and drink myself straight through until morning, I’ll more than likely go back and read a book, watch a movie, maybe even order a pizza. Who knows?
What it all boils down to is this: Life is a little bit different now. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different. And yet, on balance, I can honestly tell you I kind of prefer it this way. Keep in mind, I spent several years of my life secretly despising who and what I had become. These days, I’m doing a much better job of closing the considerable distance between the asshole I once was and the semi-admirable person I might someday like to become.
In that spirit, here now is a quick list of some of the extreme highs and lows that came to pass, lo, these past several months:
- Scaling the southeast face of the Beehive in Acadia National Park
- Running 26.2 miles (in a very unofficial time of 3:12:30)
- This website (particularly the Moving On section of it)
- Taking my first (working) vacation in six years
- Putting my court-ordered community service behind me
- Curbing my general level of anxiety
- Finally getting to see the Barnes Collection (albeit under less-than-ideal circumstances).
- Losing my full-time job of 11 years
- Being selected for an IRS audit (by an independent office in Delaware County)
- Paying nearly $6,000 in court costs, legal fees, travel expenses, and fines related to my 2011 arrest for public drunkenness
- Being placed on probation
- Eating a pair of tickets for the Broadway show Once due to illness.
Recurring Dream: On at least 12-15 occasions during the past year, I’ve had some variation on a theme in which I wind up (dream) drunk. This is usually the result of either forgetting my pledge not to drink or having someone spike a dream drink without my dream knowledge. In either case, the dream episode generally throws me into a deep state of dream anger, dream regret or dream both, depending on the dream circumstances, of course.
What might be cool in the year ahead: Mountain climbing. Hiking. Traveling. Learning more about photography. Having my work appear in a new publication. Pursuing an opportunity to do some public readings. Entering a contest. Winning an award. Increasing my web traffic. Visiting more museums/exhibits. Improving my Chess game. Studying Poker. Strumming my guitar. Meeting a girl. Getting better at Pool. Writing something that either connects with people or has a social impact. Doing charitable work. Learning more about Transcendental Meditation. Seeing half a dozen new bands/artists. Investing in something. Mining the work of great writers. Body surfing. Studying some form of Martial Arts. Visiting Cambridge. Improving my diet. Learning to cook a new dish. Decreasing my student loan debt.
The final analysis: Onward. Upward.
(Moving On is a regular feature on IFB)