In the winter, drinking looks like a dim, warmly-lit pub. Bluegrass music. Pints of Guinness and ounces of whiskey that burn on the way down. Faces lit up by the candle on the table as drinkers lean in to the centre, trying to hear and be heard over the music. In the summer, it’s a patio, or a park. Tall cans with beads of condensation. A cottage, with a wrap-around deck, like the ones in Canadian beer commercials. Revealing dresses and margaritas and sitting on a roof under the stars. A keg party in a big field with a band. Summer drinking and winter drinking have many things in common: The fuzziness. The reprieve from thought. Din. Possibilities. Electricity. Magic.
These associations unsettle me, of course, even though I know that most of them are marketing-driven, self-deceptive bullshit. The parts that aren’t are difficult to quantify and are probably related to spiking dopamine levels. But there is something to them — drinking did make me feel safer. It slapped some blinders on me and protected me from a great number of negative emotions. That pub and those patios were wombs and all my friends were in there with me and the amniotic fluid was gin and we could ignore the contractions and just stubbornly remain right where we were.
Sobriety gets cold sometimes. It’s standing outside that warm pub, shivering, in the real world. It’s walking by that patio. It’s being torn from the safety of the womb, bloody and and squirming, getting smacked, and then growing up. But it’s not hell frozen over. And it’s got to be possible to be warm and sober. And happy and sober. I mean: booze is a fucking depressant. Who needs that in the summer? Who needs anything other than sunshine and green grass and slushies?
Tomorrow I’ll have been dry for nine months. If my abstinence were a baby, I could birth it, and chances are, it would live. I may even be ready to expose it to the outside world. Is it time to let it be a thing that exists outside of me, instead of coddling and overprotecting and focusing a disproportionate amount of energy on it? Could I just sling it over my back and trust that it’s there? Is it possible that I’m done with gestation just in time for patio season?