My son, Sam, is home from California with his girlfriend, Kim, for 10 days. Our visit has been spent sightseeing, relaxing and making autumnal culinary delights at home. The temptation to indulge in alcohol has been pretty minimal as neither of them is much of a drinker. Retreating to Burlington, Vermont to visit Sam’s old UVM haunts, take in the fall foliage and eat good food, the road took a more challenging turn.

We arrived at The Vermont Hotel and got checked in. Quickly pounding the pavement, we explored Church Street, the University of Vermont and dined at our old favorite lunch spot, Magnolia. One of the main reasons that we made this trip was to see Sam’s old roommate, Anna. As students, Sam and Anna lived together for 2 years. Having new significant others in their lives since the days at UVM, it was nice that they could all meet each other at this point in time and catch up.

As the night began, I joined Sam and his friends for a round of drinks and then sent them off to dine without me. I returned to my room and watched a few innings of baseball payoffs. Being a Red Sox fan is great right now because they are doing so well. I discovered however that it’s kind of lame to be sitting in my hotel room alone. Convincing myself that it is okay to go to the bar to eat without buying a drink to watch the game, I made my way downstairs.


The scene was very friendly and being in Vermont, there were a lot of Red Sox fans in the bar. A couple of gentlemen sitting next to me even chatted me up about the team and one shared his best Red Sox memory. In high school he and his dad actually attended the turning point game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees in 2004. You know, the Dave Roberts pinch runner game where Papi hits the walk-off home run and the Red Sox dominate the series from that point forward and go on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years?

However, being in a place like this hotel bar made it difficult to stick to the abstinence plan.The hotel is masterful in pairing so many simple, yet wonderful culinary and drink choices. At The Vermont Hotel they pretty much do everything right in my book, offering a variety of local vodkas, house-made liquors like limoncello and hand-crafted bitters (rhubarb, lemon, lime, and the likes). The bar menu was fresh and exciting using seasonal local ingredients in the drink options, and the bartenders were kind, unpretentious and attentive. I even met the gentleman charged with creating all of the hand-crafted bitters who talked to my about the popularity of these concoctions among the staff. It was difficult to keep my curiosity at bay, and more than once, I allowed myself to imagine throwing this whole project aside.

What I observed is ironic. Mustering up the daydream of bagging the whole project actually helps me to stick to this dry year. Muscling my psyche around and telling myself that I must stick with the plan does not work for me. I have to give myself  the room to imagine giving this thing up and having a drink. Then and only then, do I feel the commitment resurface. This process speaks volumes about my personality. When feeling boxed in and told that I have to do something, I wanted to walk off in the opposite direction. As immature as this may seem, I know it to be true. Reminding myself that I have a choice to walk away when the going gets rough, always strengthens my commitment.

As I sit here now and contemplate the next 6 weeks when this project will come to completion, I am grateful that slivers of useful self-information and new observations continue to arise at this point in the year. I wonder what other little gems lie ahead in the next 42 days and look forward to uncovering what is yet to be revealed.

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