Here we are 2 days from the end of this year-long project. Reviewing the events of yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast and thinking about the year gone by, I am overcome with a sense of contentment. On Thanksgiving, surrounded by family, we shared a delicious meal followed by a long walk and our favorite parlor game, Guggenheim. I never felt deprived during cocktail hour. I think I have gotten pretty adept at creating suitable substitutions. My 14 year-old niece, Meg and I cracked open a bottle of cranberry kombucha and shared that in place of the wine. I was pleased to find that she really liked this beverage.
Portrait of Meg
Our beautiful college-aged niece, Charlotte, was happy to drink some wine “for me.”
Portrait of Charlotte
Looking back, one year ago, I would have drunk the wine that was served (which is too sweet for my taste) and battled a headache for the rest of the afternoon. It was just too difficult to resist, and I didn’t have any distance or perspective from my choices. Now, with the realization of how simple it is to abstain on occasions when the Yellow Tail Chardonnay is flowing, the future may look different. Perhaps through this blog, I can warn my future-self not to drink the stuff and hold out for occasions where I can enjoy the experience of drinking alcohol.
The days leading up to the end of this blog have been a little emotional. Experiencing a full range of reactions to the ending of this project fits into my awareness of who I know I am and who I have always been. The fact is that I have a terrible time saying goodbye to people or ending anything, be it a college degree, a project, a relationship or a trip to see a loved one. I often break down and cry when saying goodbye to my kids, and when I am at a funeral, I become a blubbering fool. The tears are often uncontrollable, and I struggle to get my emotions under wraps. I’ve paid enough for therapy over the years to be able to state with clarity that this trait stems from my parents’ divorce and the fact that my heart broke every week for years when saying goodbye to my father. This has shaped me, and I am not sorry for that.
As thoughts of ending this blog enter my mind, I feel a sense of loss and sadness. It starts in the heart and moves up to my throat. I have to breathe and just let it be. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I have gained through this experience. What behaviors will emerge as a result of this dry year? Although I can’t yet speak to how this will affect me in the future, I can make a few conclusions about what I have learned.
1. I do not have a drinking problem. This is probably the most valuable piece of information that I have attained. I was questioning my habit, and it was really bothering me. Was my nightly drink ritual after work a problem that I needed to deal with? Was I heading in a direction where this would lead to alcohol addiction? Was I already addicted? Although it was probably not the best coping mechanism for me to use when dealing with stressful situations, I know now that I am not an alcoholic. I have come to peace with having a nightly drink, if I so chose. When giving myself the distance to really look at my behavior and assess whether it was bad or good, I concluded that it was not detrimental to my well-being.
2. I enjoy wine. It is an essential and necessary part of creating great meals for myself, my family and my friends. Simply put, wine goes with food and I have missed it. I love to make good food and share it with people that I love. Not drinking wine takes away joy from eating, preparing and serving meals. I plan to drink better wine, try new wine, and learn more about pairing wine with meals. Guilt will not be invited to dinner.
3. I love to write and take pictures. This blog has brought me immense satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Formulating thoughts, playing with various concepts in my mind, and molding ideas into a shape and form has been one of the best experiences of my life. I knew in the beginning of this dry year that I would not be able to stick with this idea unless I had something to look forward to and a creative purpose. The pleasure of writing in this blog has far exceeded my expectations.
Tonight, I will have a martini with Philip and my Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Bob. One year ago today, we all had a wonderful dinner together at Sperry’s Restaurant—It was restaurant week. I had a vodka martini straight up with olives and an iceberg wedge salad, two of my favorite things. The next day, I started the Dr. Oz three-day cleanse and my dry year concept was born. Creating this outlet for abstinence has been a great journey. So often, we forget our reasons for doing things or how we got to a particular place in our lives. I will forever be thankful for this dry year, for the chance to look back on this documentation and for the privilege of sharing this experience with you.