I'm at a roadside bistro watching people go by as I sample more food and more Perrier. This morning I said good-bye to my friends CW and HL. We had an awesome time ranking croissants and getting lost in certain metro stations. Since then I have been checking out Paris on my own.
I've put in almost 10 miles of walking and it is only 7pm. The only goals I have left for tonight is to see the Eiffel Tower lit up after dark. Then it is bedtime.
I've moved to a packed cafe in the neighborhood I'm staying and I've ordered a cappuccino. It's after 8pm and I'm ordering caffeine, this is nuts for me. But it is still light out and I'm not drinking wine or beer and I need to break up the Perrier. And I need to stay awake for the lit up Eiffel Tower!
Let's talk about not drinking in Paris. The only time it's been a bit challenging is now. I'm tired and by myself. Sitting with some booze watching the world go by and feeling all relaxed and buzzed sounds great. The time would pass nicely. I would have something to do. But when I think the drink all the way through it isn't what I want to do. And it is leftover thinking that it normal or positive to be drinking alone in public. It's not rebellious, courageous, or chic. It is sad. It is unnecessary.
I'm loving the café culture here. I blend in sitting by myself facing the street with a cappuccino and a creme brûlée. I blend in so much here that I've been asked for directions multiple times by French people! Such a nice change from being the obvious foreigner in Cairo.
If I were drinking I would have spent lots of money, got tucked away some place and would not have explored as much. With the move to the café and the surge of caffeine, all traces of craving have stopped.
Just ordered a Perrier and I'll continue to watch the Parisians stroll by, as I blend right in.
The statistics for staying sober forever are dismally low. Why should I believe that I can do it when the vast majority of people crumble and stumble and sometimes never get back on the wagon? What makes me different? I am no different, but I do think I can do this. I also believe I'd be one of the few that would survive the apocalypse and help rebuild humanity. I'm just optimistic like that.
This week-end I am going to Paris. The Paris. The Paris where I'm supposed to wear a cute dress while I ride a bike with a basket, and that basket should have a baguette and a bottle of wine. I'm also on this Whole 30 cleanse where I am not to eat anything but protein and vegetables. That's not the Paris I thought I would be visiting one day. I already decided to give myself leeway on the Whole 30 business-I'm not soul searching with that plan, it is just a reeling in of poor food choices. But the drinking. In 20 years will I regret not sipping red wine at a cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower? I might. I might not.
During undergraduate I did a study abroad program in Buenos Aires for 4 months and I was a vegetarian at the time. And I admit I did miss out by not eating meat, especially being in the late 90s, there weren't a whole lot of options for me. I was hungry a lot and I ate a lot of cheese pizza. Twenty years later I do regret not taking part in the barbecues and empanadas, probably because I'm no longer a vegetarian. I remember an Argentine saying to me, "Why would you come to Argentina as a vegetarian? That's like going to China when you don't eat rice." Touché Argentine, touché.
Well then. How will I feel in 20 years that I didn't drink wine in Paris over the week-end? I guess it will depend if I'm still sober or joining the vast majority that don't stay sober. I'm ambivalent about if I'll join the crowd that melts back into the drinking culture or keep it together with the those who abstain. But either way I will survive the apocalypse.
Another benefit of sobriety! I have a long term case of the "mummy tummy" and it is time to take out whatever buggers set up camp in my guts. I have to take the medicine Tinidazole, in which you can't drink alcohol during during treatment and for a couple days afterwards. Alcohol effects the medicine, but worse, it can make you violently ill.
When I was in the Peace Corps in Ghana, I got intestinal problems a lot, but I would remain sick for days to avoid not drinking at inconvenient times-because 5 days is a LONG time to go without, especially if friends were around. I remember being so sick with intestinal parasites and still drinking so as not to be in the outside of the party-it could wait until I was back in the village and away from my friends. It really didn't occur to me that I could be at the party (and have fun) while not drinking. Never crossed my mind once.
I did even try to drink while taking this stuff before too...not wanting to believe it would make me more sick. Because, you know, doctors make that shit up just to scare you. Or there is just a small chance and then doctors globalize it so you don't blame them if you get the side effects. I risked it. And it is true, don't drink on that stuff. I remember thinking I deserved to drink and have fun. I was doing hard isolating work in a small village and only got to socialize with my friends and meet boys once a month or longer-no way was I going to miss out because of parasites!
So here I am sober and needing medication. I didn't think about what day of the week it is or what events are coming up in order to plan when I would start my treatment. I.started.immediately. And I will feel better really soon.
Healthy me make me smile.
Today, May 6, is the three-year anniversary of my mom's sudden death from colon cancer. One month from diagnosis to death. It left me reeling. I try to tell myself that the short time is a blessing; that she didn't suffer for that long. But it was still so short and there are so many things I would still like to tell her and ask her, especially now that I'm not drinking and want to know more about our family's history with alcohol
I wonder if she would be proud of me that I'm not drinking or find it odd?
I wonder about that with my dad as well, I haven't told him I stopped drinking, I plan to tell him in person when I visit and downplay it. All-is-normal-except-I'm-not-drinking, carry on.
One of my main motivations to go to Paris is to honor my mom's life with my friend CW. She is like family and really took care of my mom and I when mom was dying and afterwards. I miss my mom, I miss CW and she lives far away in Chicago, and she happens to be in Paris this week-end. I am going to meet her there.
And I'm going to celebrate living and traveling and friendship-that would make my mom proud and happy that I'm thinking of her, finding balance in my life and holding close my dear friends. And not drinking, I hope.
I'm feeling scattered and unable to focus. I have urges to shed projects, responsibilities or find something, anything to check off a To Do List. I'm just stressed with all I have to do this shortened work week. And eating in this Whole 30 style is occupying mental and physical space that I'm not used to causing me to have less time. It is a full time job just feeding myself. I'm tiring of it right now - I have the Whole 30 blues.
I'll save my to do list making until I get to work. Right now the task is how to make sure sobriety stays in the focus for today.
What sobriety-related film should I watch next? I'm leaning toward The Anonymous People. It seems like it could be a compliment to Bette's story, a different ending if she would have gotten help. I'm ambivalent about AA and curious about all the ways people "do" recovery. I haven't read anything about it yet, I did see lots of tweets suggesting it, so I will follow the advice of the community and watch it.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp