Monday, December 20, 2010

I am not an evangelist

Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know

You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

-- Flaming Lips

And I will drink the clear
Clean water for to quench my thirst
And I shall watch the ferry-boats
And they'll get high
On a bluer ocean
Against tomorrow's sky
And I will never grow so old again
And I will walk and talk
In gardens all wet with rain

-- Van Morrison

Circling LAX on Saturday evening in the pouring rain -- I may have made it nine times around the inner circumference, not that I was counting -- my iPod stuck on a Ziggy Stardust genius mix, I was pondering these lyrics: I will never grow so old again and I will walk and talk in gardens all wet with rain. I wouldn't exactly call it satori, but it was something close.  The overwhelming sense that you have finally understood something that you thought you'd always known -- and perhaps you had -- but until that moment it hadn't been shimmeringly apparent: what is that called? Is there a word for that kind of catharsis?

Finally a thinner, taller son appears from the Virgin America terminal with his three bags and the traffic cop deigns to let me pull up to the curb and  hustle him into the car. It hasn't been long since he was home, only a few weeks since Thanksgiving break, but somehow the house feels different when everyone is home. That's as trite as can be and as accurate. "You're thinner," I say. "I'm not" he says and we hurtle home, rain trickling down the windows, hydro-planing up to red lights, to a house beset by a leeky roof and lily-assed dogs who refuse to set their delicate paws down in water and hold their pee for countless, record-breaking hours.

A swift change into a black dress and heels, a lick of lipstick, and off to a very grand and spoiling dinner in the private room at Mozza (I'd never been -- what a treat!) for a dear friend's 50th. Deliciously, braised leeks with burata, butter lettuce salad with eggs and bacon and filberts, pork chop on a bed of fennel, chocolate-hazelenut sorbet and chocolate birthday cake.  To drink a thick, dark-red Brunello, a good one.  And to make matters worse, a toast, around the table, each person called upon to speak about the birthday boy. After champagne and a crisp white and then Brunello, people were well-oiled and the eloquent words rolled off tongues. Jokes are told, the table is in a state of blissed-out hilarity, a very glamorous kind of hilarity, and in the midst of it, here am I, stone-cold sober, and thinking "Am I the most boring person to walk the planet?"  Truth be told, I managed to spit out a story involving motorbikes and I think I said "fuck off" in as charmingly an English accent as I could muster, so people clapped politely at the end. But there is no worse torture than attempting Great Humour in the style of Ricky Gervais or Eddie Izzard when you are all pepped up on San Pellegrino.

It wasn't really planned.  A friend is recently sober, more than 40 days worth of sober, and she told me, just ten days in "I can feel my heart growing."  A year of reading about sobriety (Mary Karr provides perhaps the most romantic tale in Lit.) and realizing that since my pregnancies, I'd probably not gone more than two days without a glass of wine, I decided to give it a go.  Not forever of course. Too overwhelming. Just, naturally, one day at a time. And it was HARD at the beginning. (The delicious-looking Brunello was the hardest).  What to do with oneself once 7pm rolls around?   But sleeping well? An entirely new concept in my world. Remembering everything? Anathema to my former self.  New found energy? Check.  Cakes baked. Books read. Bills paid. Lunches made, joyfully even. And the smugness quotient! Through the roof.

Smugness quotient 100% (with the Maharishi)

I'm not an evangelist, but I'm here to say that if you want to slow down time, try not drinking for a few days.

And people are interesting in their responses.
A girlfriend: "I'm not sure it's not good to withhold from oneself all the things one loves." (true)
My mother: "But surely you'll have a glass of champagne on Christmas day?" (probably)
My husband: "You're seriously smug." (true)
Another friend: "Are you sure you're not pregnant."

It's been 13 days. Last night, I lay in bed reading about the lunar eclipse and the full moon and the winter solstice and what an enormous event we will be witnessing. How the stars haven't been aligned this way since December 21, 1638 and for a ego-blown second, I imagine that I was exactly where I was meant to be. Stone-cold sober, waiting for some magic.  Not a bad thought really. The magic I mean. I'm afraid Christmas time turns me into a believer. Three cheers for optimism. And magic.

Merry-merry, merry gentlemen and women.


LPC said...

I love those nights I manage not to have a glass or two of wine. I didn't drink regularly until I was in my early 40's and long hours of corporate work made the quick hit of release important when I got home. Kind of sneaks up on you, though, and I've been ramping it down ever since I stopped working.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Yes, sometimes it does all align and especially when sober and surprise!- we know the difference in a real alignment and imagined. I was listening to the FL tunes and this one especially Sat- So something must be up-Cheers.

AQ: said...

Not sure exactly why, but my eyes got teary with this one somewhere in the middle. X

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the drinking thing is about smugness but it certainly makes some folk uncomfortable if you decline.I give up alcohol for Lent; it is amazing how much more i manage to do....but most of the time I want to be a team memberx