Yesterday the rain began after the sun had set and I took the opportunity to walk along the bridge over the inlet to the group of restaurants on the docks. No cars, no people, just a light mist and a cold breeze. Most of the restaurants had shut down for the night since the harbor was so empty, due to the inclement weather, but one I hadn’t tried yet remained open. As I walked in to the Italian joint and waited to be seated, the ruckus from the only table with guests echoed across the empty restaurant, a group of ten or so adults and a few kids celebrating a birthday. Bottles of wine were flowing.
The waiter was drunk. His eyes were glossed over and he had trouble hearing me. His walk was forced and stiff to avoid running into tables. I’m sure the other servers were as well. Who wouldn’t be on a night with no customers? He had placed the wine menu on top of the food menu and then suddenly walked away, leaving me to push it to the corner of the table so I didn’t have to look at it. I wasn’t planning on being in an Italian restaurant, I wasn’t prepared to eat this kind of food without wine yet. It would be a fight to not ask for a glass of wine the rest of the meal.
Glasses clinking, presents being opened, people drunkenly sharing too much or laughing too loud, the party waged on behind me. The drunk waiter dropped a whole tray of water glasses at one point and everyone at the table yelled “OPAH!” The man who was splashed from the accident drunkenly hugged the waiter to stop him from apologizing and said “It could’ve been worse, it could’ve been wine.”
Finishing a meal by yourself when not seated at the bar drinking goes by in flash. As soon as I sat down I seemed to be paying the check and standing up to leave. Surrounded by happy people drinking and laughing, hiding from the rain but celebrating because of it, I felt left out as I zipped up my coat and opened the door into the cold. Sobriety felt like a burden and dinner only reminded me of how much I had to give up to be here.
Rain carried through the night and all of today. There were a brief few hours this morning when it paused, though, and I took the chance to get a run in and do some shopping. Stopped at a local fish and chips place for lunch before hunkering down for the storm, all the locals were in talk of anticipation of the storm of natural disaster proportions. I spent the time thinking about how easy it would be to buy a bottle of vodka to celebrate it with as they chattered on. Opening the windows in the apartment to let the 40 degree air in, curl up in a blanket next to the fireplace and drink the whole bottle before I could regret it. Deal with the hangover tomorrow and never tell anyone it happened. Let the thunder, lightning and downpour wash away the shame.
But today would be another dry day. A call with my editor calmed some anxiety, a call with a friend reminded me to be hopeful, a trip to the gym ebbed the agitation, and a yoga and meditation session eased my mind. Each an activity from this toolbox I’ve been building over the last 72 days.
While I cooked I listened to a podcast on recovery (yet another tool) to keep my intentions strong, and of course it was topical. There is a foundation being started that helps restaurants bring sobriety into their workplaces, one of which has history soaked in drug and alcohol abuse and deaths, as well as providing resources for service industry employees who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. https://restaurantrecovery.org/ It made me want to work harder at finding a way to share with the community, to affect this antiquated stigma, to help those who don’t know how to ask.