When I first stopped drinking, I was devastated. For days I wept in the shower with the spigot turned all the way to hot. I was heartbroken not because I was an addict (well, I suppose, that was partly the reason), but because I adored wine. I was a woman who took trips to vineyards, packed bottles of red in her suitcase, and sought out classes to understand the depth and complexity of wine–from grape to barrel. I loved the austerity of a Sancerre and the carnivorous profile of a rioja; nothing compares to pairing a fine meal with a glass of wine.
Except, of course, sobriety. Nothing comes close to the clarity of living a life without the sauce can bring. Trust me on this. I’ve drunk the ocean and feel no better for it.
This is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve decided to kick pasta, for good. Because nothing compares to how nourished and sated I felt before this small dish of cacio e pepe. Tonight was an evening spent with one of my beloveds, and it was a splurge night, so why not? Even before I entered the restaurant, I had my reservations. Considered the chicken under a brick. Reconsidered.
As I was eating my pasta, I started to feel wrong. Know that feeling, that full-body warmth, you experience after you’ve had that first glass of wine? The way your eyes want to close and all you want to feel is the prickly numbness of it? That’s how I felt tonight, sitting in front of a dear friend, not being present. And then the stomach cramps, the itchy skin, the pain and the feeling of boulders under my skin–everything I hadn’t felt only two hours before. How is it that a love can ravage? How is it that the object of your affection becomes tired, old, something like a projector playing old movies?
In the midst of eating, I received an email from my agent. He told me my book was tricky in all the best ways, remarkable and magnificent. Yes, it needs editing, but it’s good. Dare I say great, and all the while I kept thinking, are you fucking kidding me, my stomach hurts this much? Are you kidding me that a thing I thought I loved is again interrupting my happiness? Distracting me from it.
I wondered if writing this even merited a blog post, but tonight was about awareness, and that realization translates into self-care. Because I never thought I’d be happy without drinking, and I am. So much so.
It’s not about what you remove, but what you add. These minor losses pale in comparison to what is gained. So perhaps this realization is worth sharing.
Last image snapped by my friend Meg. Her rigatoni looks DIVINE, no?