“Are you drinking or not drinking today?” my friend, Morgan, asks me, on a regular basis, partly in jest, partly serious. This alone should be a message. She is that enviable person who can just have “a drink” without making a big deal out of it. In our almost ten years of friendship I have never seen her out of control after having too much to drink. I am guessing she would not likely say the same thing about me. I am fairly confident that if she is reading this piece today, she is actually laughing at the non stop alayne drinking a little too much memories.
Truth be told, though, I have always been party girl. Going as far back as junior high school parties, my personality has been gathering the troops and enjoying the moment. Here’s the problem for me, though, like a bag of potato chips, I can’t just eat one. I struggle with just one of anything, frankly.
I wish I was the type of person who could just have one glass of wine and call it a day. My grandmother was that type of person. “Everything in moderation, Alayne,” she would say with such conviction. If she only knew that I inherited my father’s genes in that department. And he probably inherited his grandfather’s genes.
I had it coming to me from both sides. My mother’s father, my grandfather, Bill and my father’s grandfather, Joe, both enjoyed their moments with the bottle. Scotch (or was it vodka?) for my old great grandfather, an immigrant from “the old country,” Russia. Drinking during the day while at work was the norm back in “those days”when salesmen and police officers indulged in a quick drink as they stopped by the textile mill my grandfather owned to say hello to the old man.
My grandfather, Bill, was quite the handsome man, engineer + artist, Irish + Scottish, a winning combination. He apparently loved his cocktails too, but he had stopped around the time that I came along. I never saw the drinking side of him. But I heard about it and its vestiges have showed up in our family dynamic for my entire life. And here those vestiges are- still. My aunt and I are constantly discussing whether we are drinking or not, what we drank when we do, what we drink when we don’t. People who have normal relationships with alcohol don’t have these types of conversations.
I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, but I am fairly confident that my many sober friends would beg to differ. Drinking is so fun, it lets my hair down and loosens up my dance shoes, gives me a nice jolt of calm as that first sip travels down my throat and makes its way into my capillary walls. Meditation, exercise, a bike ride, a great walk or run also does this for me, but it is just not the same experience as sitting and allowing the drink to take over and do the work. Sometimes I need something else to do that for this busy chick who is so often already moving and going.
Most recently, I went five months straight with no drinking. It was phenomenal. All of a sudden, I had so much time on my hands. This reminded me how much time is sucked up while I am taking in the gorgeous glasses of biodynamic wine on my front porch.
I have heard this same thing happens when people quit smoking cigarettes. Though I have never smoked in my life, I can see the symmetry between the two. Thinking about them, going to the store and buying the bottle, thinking, “When will it be 5:00?” Coordinating parties and gatherings on my front porch or in my back garden, opening the bottle, creating gorgeous appetizer platters all under the pretense of get togethers. The ritual of pouring the first glass and toasting my friends or my partner as I look forward to the first sip.
I have had my own wacky relationship with drinking, never so much that I have found my way to an AA meeting, but I likely would have benefitted from its teachings. I just can’t bring myself to one though because that feels like I have to make a decision to NOT drink Ever. I love drinking, but I equally love not drinking and here lies the conundrum.
I know not drinking, like it seems everything these days, has become a thing. The question I routinely ask myself is what draws me to this mode of immediate gratification relaxation and why can’t I be the type of person who can just stop my washing machine spin cycle head from having to over think every thing I do. Maybe this is just the cross creative types have to bear. The non stop blithering of a high on life brain.
What I do know is that I am actively working on my all or nothing personality. Not drinking, drinking, sugar, no sugar, shopping, no shopping, saving money, spending money, as I write this list out, I chuckle kindly to myself. This list, the contents of this specific list, are exactly the things that connect me with my mother.
This is fascinating. I have thought about this before, but writing it this way reminds me of the on again and off again connection we have had over the last five years. Despite this, though, the connection between mother and daughter, mother and child, is probably the deepest more connected. Knowing the struggles and the movement of emotion between the two of us and writing it ALOUD is definitely an AHA moment. Maybe there is an ease between the all or nothing. Maybe it is in that ease where the the lessons lie.
I like this self therapy. It gives me comfort and feelings of forgiveness. This is a lovely end to this piece for me today reminding me again that writing is as much therapy as actual therapy. I am guessing it was no accident that I dreamed about both of my grandmothers last night sleeping over my house. I have never had a dream like that before and it felt like they were on either side of me helping me along my way. Doesn’t get better than this.