This Time Last Year

What a difference a year makes!

This time last year, my SO and I were getting ready to go to Santa Rosa, California. The yoga group that we are involved with also has a couple of retreat weekends there during the year.  A couple that we really love and resonate with invited us to come and stay with them. So, we decided to go.  For 2 weeks.  Now I’ll be honest, I don’t like staying with anyone for any period of time.  I really, really like my privacy. But, because these kind people offered us one of their vehicles to use my SO and I decided that we would kind of use their home as a base-maybe go to San Fransisco for a night, go to a vineyard  (I was still drinking) for a night-do a few day trips as well-some with them, some alone.  That made it okay with me.  Even so, I still had a few reservations, especially when my friend remarked that they’d never had anyone stay for 2 weeks!

WELL!  More honesty coming.  One of the main reasons that I didn’t want to commit to staying with these friends for 2 weeks is because they don’t drink.  At all.  Period.  They don’t drink for Spiritual reasons.  They are both intensly spiritual people deeply devoted to God, their Guru, Mother Mary. They are heavy meditators.  They are healers.  They would do nothing that would impair the vibration they feel.  Now, let me also say this.  They are not kooks.  They love life. They love food.  They love people.  They have a great sense of humor and a genuine caring for human kind.  But, they don’t drink.

Also, I may have mentioned that my SO does a lot of Hospice work.  He will do whatever is needed and that he is asked to do.  In the months leading up to this trip, he had been spending time with a 16 year old boy who was dying. They had become very close.  In fact, Logan wouldn’t go to sleep until my SO arrived.  A sweet, sweet person whose life was a living hell and whose body was bloated out of proportion from illness and medication.  He died a few days before we left.  My SO was with him when he died.   While he has been with many people when they have died, I have never seen him as effected as he was this time.  Of course, it’s much different when it’s someone so young.  I know that my SO was upset, but didn’t begin to understand just how grief-stricken he was until we were on our trip.

One thing I haven’t said-for those of you who don’t know-is that Santa Rosa is smack dab in the middle of the Sonoma Valley.  You know- where TONS of wine is produced.  The first night when our friends picked us up from the airport we went to dinner and I had A glass of wine.  One. Made it last.  They didn’t care-asked me how it was.  It wasn’t too hard as it was really late for us because of the time difference.  After being there a couple of days, I realized that my SO was totally paralyzed by grief and was not going to make any kind of plan or go on any kind of overnight.  One afternoon, I found myself cooking Lobster Thermidor for my friends and another couple they are friends with.  I was getting grumpier by the minute.  Whispering to my SO, I can’t believe that I’m cooking a meal like this and there’s not going to be any wine!”  He offered to go get me a bottle, but I wasn’t comfortable doing that-knowing that I would drink the whole thing and then afraid I just might appear tipsy.  Why I didn’t chug some of the Cognac I was cooking with is beyond me.  Same reason I suppose.  Their friends came-a lovely couple.  He-a macro-biologist who does work with the US Government and She-a marine biologist. They didn’t bring a bottle of wine.  So, no alcohol.  I remember sitting around the table-and it was a nice night, but I was thinking, “So, this is what it’s like when people don’t drink. BORING!”  I actually got up from the table and went to our room to take a break for awhile.

The next day, our friends took us on a little trip around the area.  We were passing miles and miles of wine on the vine.  I was in the back seat.  Recognizing almost all of the vineyards we were passing.  Feeling like the kid that didn’t get invited to the party.  That afternoon, I started walking.  Because we were in the valley, there was a mountain across a small highway from their house.  And I made that mountain my outlet.  Jeez!  It was a steep climb just to get to the entance of the mountain.  I went up and screamed and cried.  I felt sorry for myself.  I begged and pleaded with God, my deceased Mother- any and everyone I could think of to pray to.  I never saw anyone else up there.  I started going up there every day-never made it to the top-Being surrounded by all of that beautiful nature really helped me.  Then, on the way down, I would pass the Franciscan  Vineyards.  Rows and rows of wine on the vine.  All marked-Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay.  And, I would start crying! Crying because I wasn’t getting any!  I would go into the grocery stores and check out the wine section.  We would pass tasting room after tasting room.  God! I was fucking miserable!  The only wine on the vine I got that trip was from some grapes that my friend got from a local vineyard and juiced.  DELICIOUS!  If you’ve never had fresh grape juice, try it.  Needless to say, as good as that was, it did not do the trick for me!

While there were some really good things that trip-and some of the most incredible food I’ve had-I let my thirst-ie.addiction ruin my trip.  I mean I gave my SO a whole earful about how no one would believe that we had gone to Sonoma Valley and not visited a vineyard or had a glass of wine!  We went to a famous French bakery one day-we’d driven over to Napa Valley (oh joy!) to go to this bakery and eat in their brasserie.  We spent $80.00 at the bakery! Shit! Like we’d be to Neiman’s! We then ate in this totally French restaurant where they did the Sole Menuiere the proper way with no wine.  As you can imagine-and you probably can if you follow these kinds of blogs- I was not a happy camper. But that was doubled by my need to not show my friends what was going on with me. To say the least, it was really stressful.

I’m not there-in that place anymore.  I think I could waltz around Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, the Loire Valley, ANY valley and be fine.  To think that I let that dictate whether I was having a good time or not.  To think that I gave all that power to a BEVERAGE! A DRUG!  I have some neighbors- a couple- and one of the parntners won’t travel anywhere where pot isn’t legal. Which is pretty limiting.  And sad.  And, sick. And, did I say sad?

The other day was my 8 month marker.  Whod’ve thought it?  I was in the grocery-and needed some Vermouth.  Yes, I still cook with alcohol.  For me, it’s not a problem and it definitely adds a dimension that I’ve not found a substitute for.  As I was walking through the wine department, I was noticing the wine-and one that I used to drink when I would splurge a little.  As I was looking at it, I just got this feeling and this taste-not pleasant.  The only way I can describe it is that I have never liked oaky wines-especially California Chardonnays.. Not that that kept me from drinking them if there was nothing else. It was kind of like take a sip, swallow, shudder, repeat. Well, I got that! Just by looking at the stuff.

Now that my friends, is a very good thing!




7 thoughts on “This Time Last Year

  1. Do you want some unsolicited advice? If I were you, and still on somewhat shaky ground at 8 mos sober, I would not have ANY alcohol in the house. You “really” needed Vermouth to cook? As you then mentioned about the wine you’d in the past splurged on, you would drink it in a pinch–even though you didn’t care for California Chardonnays. Here’s the deal: When you’re buying that Vermouth, you are in the wine or liquor section of the market: clearly a potential danger zone for someone in their first year. Let’s say you buy the Vermouth–just for cooking, mind you. Then, one evening you’re having a rough time about something (and yes, we will always run into rough times) or maybe you’re just not feeling good about yourself. There’s always that bottle of Vermouth sitting in your cabinet or wherever.
    I don’t trust myself around alcohol even after being sober for over 28 yrs. I avoid parties where people get hammered. I don’t go to vineyards–just for a visit. When I’ve gone on cruises or what have you and there’s alcohol in my room, I have room service remove it. Alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful. Most importantly, it’s patient.
    You don’t have to agree with my point of view. I’ve heard others say that having alcohol in the house “doesn’t bother” them. I know at least one woman who did that–just for guests–and she relapsed BIG time and is now dead. I treat alcohol like it’s XXX (poison). If your guest cannot stand to be in your if you don’t serve alcohol, that’s THEIR problem, not yours. If your recipe calls for Vermouth, I’m sure there’s an acceptable substitution that is non-alcoholic. I don’t use mouthwash or eat pastries during Christmas that has had the alcohol “cooked out of it.” I don’t trust it…and, more importantly, I don’t trust ME.
    My two cents!


  2. Thank you for the comment. I get what you’re saying. I don’t keep alcohol in the house for guests. I do however, cook for a living and have a regular clientele that often request things that they have had on a regular basis. I also serve it at events if a bartender needs a break. I don’t feel like I can change it up at this point. I AM BY NO MEANS SUGGESTING OR GIVING PERMISSION for anyone trying to quit drinking to keep alcohol in their home. And yes, I may decide to drink at any moment. But if that’s the case, not having any alcohol in my house will not stop me. It’s everywhere and impossible to live in this world-or my part of it without being exposed to it. I don’t eat meat, but I will cook it for a client and I will check out the meat department occasionally. I know this may not sit well with some people but to be honest, I don’t feel like I’m on shaky ground.


  3. I was thinking about this time last year tonight too. I think the whole issue of being near alcohol is very specific to each person. I just stopped drinking in July so I am hardly an expert but I chose to leave the bottle of vodka in my freezer and the on-deck bottle unopened on the kitchen table. To me, ridding my home of alcohol felt pointless because if I want to drink, there’s a gas station full of beer 2 blocks away and 2 liquor stores within 5 blocks. If I even notice the bottle lately I just think how tempted I would have been a year ago and am grateful that this day I do not want to partake in anything that does not serve my well being. Keeping far away from it may be a good coping strategy for many people but I don’t think it’s required.


    1. I so agree with you. This getting sober is a very personal thing and we all have to find the way that works for us. In my case, I just can’t buy into the theory that I am powerless in regards to alcohol. Or that I have some affliction that I will carry on my back for the rest of my life with no hope of being free of it. Alcohol is everywhere and readily available. I too kept the last bottle of wine I’d opened in fridge for several months. I finally used it in a risotto. A bit pricier than what I’d normally use but I thought a fitting end to it. More recently, a hotel my SO and I were staying at sent up a bottle of Prosecco, iced in a silver wine bucket. I let it sit out until I realized the ice had melted then put it in the fridge and forgot about it. Thanks for the comment and good for you for quitting!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There is an expression in 12 step meetings: Think, think, think. To me, that is an important one. If I have to drive to a gas station or liquor store should the urge strike me to drink, I’d have so many more chances to think the drink through while I was getting my car keys, jumping into the car, driving to the store, picking out the wine, purchasing it, driving home, and then opening it. During each of those steps, I’d have a chance to think the drink through. If, OTOH, the bottle was in my house, I might just pick it up and take a slug. Yes, it’s a personal choice, but this is one choice that I make to maintain my sobriety. In the past, drinking was like a habit: I didn’t think about it, I just drank. No, none of these things are requirements, but this one is important for ME. I just never know when the urge to drink might sneak up on me. I keep as much distance as is possible to keep that from happening.


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