One of my biggest concerns about giving up alcohol for a year? That life wouldn't be fun. You see, so many of the good times in my life - college years, law school years, weddings - have been wild and wine-soaked and I think, I know, I had come to assume that to really live, to really celebrate, to really party, one must imbibe.
Well, this weekend was the true test. We went to South Carolina with three other couples and stayed at one of their lake homes (thanks, C & T!). We planned this trip many months ago, long before I hatched my no-drinking plan and I'll be honest, when I contemplated forgoing booze for a year, I thought of this weekend, and this trip, and wondered if I really wanted to experience it without drinking. As Friday approached, I grew more thoughtful about this, one question rising to the surface of my consciousness: Will this even be fun?
You see, I knew this weekend would be about getting away from the kiddos and kicking back and having a good time. I knew that this meant drinking, plenty of drinking, Bloody-Mary-at-noon kind of drinking. And I wondered how this would be for me, whether I would feel quiet or awkward or left out. I wondered how our friends would respond to my decision to sip water and the odd O'Douls (not bad) instead of my trademark Pinot Grigio. I wondered about a lot of things.
Shortly after we arrived on Friday, we all drove to marina where we rented a pontoon boat for the afternoon. We all piled on and lounged under a sky that sprinkled on and off. And we began to catch up. About our kids of course. About our lives. About what we have been up to for the past seven years (we hadn't all been together since our wedding!) Everyone started pulling beers from backpacks and I found a Diet Coke and I just came right out and said it, or asked it rather.
"So, guys. What do you think this weekend will be like without drinking?"
And there were smiles. A few friends had read my blog, and knew. The others were clueless, but kind and curious. And so I explained. That I am mid-experiment. That I have decided to live one year of my life without alcohol. That I have decided to do this, and to write about it. And the most amazing thing happened as my words tapered off. Everyone started talking, opening up, being real. We talked about the role of alcohol in modern life, how it has affected, or not affected, all of us. We talked about things in our life we are thankful for, and those we would like to alter. We told stories about days long ago, when we were the same but also different people.
And, truth be told, I was relieved. I was relieved that no one there seemed to judge me, to question me. No, they listened, they asked, they reacted. That was that and the weekend was underway. And it was a fantastic and fantastically fun weekend. We hung out and caught up. We slept in. We grilled good food. We soaked up sunshine. And we played countless games of Cornhole.
Cornhole is a lawn game. Maybe you've played it? You take turns tossing bean bags into a pitched platform with a hole in it. Anyway, it's fun and entertained us for hours. It brought competitiveness and camaraderie to the weekend. There were the times when it was just the guys playing. There were times when we all played. Anyway, it was certainly the theme of the weekend.
On Saturday night, we came home from a dinner out and we girls changed into pajamas. We ate cookies and eclairs and went outside to the garage for what turned out to be an endless game of Cornhole. We blasted music and danced and drank. I sipped sugar free margarita mix (kind of disgusting, kind of amazing) from a big old Solo cup while others sipped beer. But the thing is, the great thing is, we all had immense, rip-roaring fun. There was dancing. There was laughter. There was utterly inappropriate but very funny commentary. There was even a brief strip tease by a certain guy who shall remain nameless.
And so. I went to bed on Saturday night smiling. I was smiling because my tummy hurt from laughing so hard and thinking so hard at dinner (the conversation ranged from the very silly to the very serious). I was smiling because I was reminded, and keenly, that we can be young, young and wild and free, even when we are getting older. I was smiling because I realized, and powerfully, that a spirited existence has nothing to do with spirits. Wildness can exist without wine.
This was, and is, major for me. I am a believer in living life to its fullest, in finding fun, in staying young. And to know that these things can be done, really done, without drinking is an incredible step for me.
When this year is up next January, I will look back. I will look back at my days, the good ones, the bad ones, the important ones. I will read the words I have written including these, and I will discern the lessons I have learned along the way. This is one. A big one. One that I am aware of even as I am learning it. Life can be fun, silly fun, exquisite fun, without drinking.
And so. I want to thank seven wonderful people - T, C, J, S, I, S and my handsome Husband for a tremendous and telling weekend, a weekend when I felt embraced and accepted, alert and aware. Aware of simple and complicated things: joy, time, story, friendship. Like it or not, you guys are a chapter in my story now, a story I am living and writing as I go.
Cheers to life and love. And Cornhole of course :)
Have you had some old school fun recently? In your mind, have you ever linked alcohol (or other things) with having a good time? Have you ever played Cornhole?