The Celebration Story that Shattered a Friendship of Ten Years
The texts were eagerly pouring in from a girlfriend of mine. I had just finished wrapping up my final project for a class I was taking and it was Friday afternoon. The incessant buzzes from my phone would not let me forget the fact that the weekend was looming before us, with all its potential.
“Are you finally done that bloody paper?” was the first text from her that I read.
“Yes, yes,” I responded back, smiling at my phone, “What oh what shall I do with all my free time?”
The buzz of her response came back before I even put my phone back down on the table, “A celebration always calls for champagne! I am done work in thirty and will be over in sixty!”
I loved the comfort of our relationship; the no need for permission because our doors were always open for one another.
“Sounds great!” I texted back, “Champagne for my favourite friend and takeout for me! I am not drinking right now, but I promise to eat my weight in Thai food with you.”
Silence. The anticipated buzz back of a response did not come. The conversation had suddenly fallen silent. I had derailed her Friday night dream with my damaging statement: I am not drinking tonight.
Ten long minutes later, she responded, “Not drinking? Why?”
I had responded to so many similar texts and in-person conversations, such as this lately, that I felt I was sending her back a canned response, “I am training for that race, remember? And honestly, I am just enjoying the break, so I’m going with it. Bring the champagne for yourself and I will order our takeout to be here in an hour. No seafood, but you are game for everything and anything else, right?”
The dialogue had been derailed by my discourse and this time for even longer….I decided to send another message to continue the now one-sided conversation.
“I am going to order those spicy appetizers we love so much, what are they called again? I always forget.”
I was starting to feel desperate, but I did not feel I should. ‘She must be driving,’ I thought to myself, silently congratulating her for being safe and not texting and driving.
“Noodles or rice? Your choice!”
I was going to brace through the awkwardness and make this night happen.
Finally, she responded back:
“Let’s celebrate after your run. Three weeks away right? That’s not far away. I am also fighting traffic right now, so I think coming all the way to your house won’t work for me anymore, it’ll take way too long….and to be honest, I not feeling so hot either, so I think an early night in is just what I need right now. Raincheck?”
There it was.
I stared at the screen. I felt so rejected. I haven’t felt so rejected in a long time. I wanted to call her out too and say, ‘You’re a filthy little liar! I know you are not sick and it never takes you that long to respond to me, ever!’
I did not do that. When we fought in the past it always resulted in silence, for at least a season, before we could get our relationship back on track. I did not have the energy for that right now.
“Raincheck it is,” I texted back.
I sat in my beautiful apartment and wondered what to do now.
I was frustrated, but not willing to focus on my filthy little friend right now, I would deal with her later.
How was I going to celebrate?
I became desperate. I quickly logged onto my massage parlour’s website, hoping to sneak into a Friday night sixty minute therapeutic massage. All booked up until Sunday, of course.
I called my local nail salon, trying to hide my desperation when asking for a pedicure appointment for anytime they had, but it had to be for that night. All booked up until tomorrow, of course.
I sat there, slumped and dejected. Why is this so hard for others? How am I punishing others by going on this journey? What are they so afraid that I will find at the end of said journey?
I have been on this journey of evaluating alcohol for quite sometime and what I have realized is that this road is made for one. People run from you when you tell them that you’re sticking to sparkling water for the evening; the statement seems to suck the fun out of everything.
It sucks, it really, really sucks. Most adults, eighty percent of the population, tip their glasses to alcohol regularly, which is fine, but why is it difficult if the glass of the person you are cheering with is booze-free? Why does this make others so uncomfortable?
I did not want to go down that well of online research, yet again, today. I had just finished a paper, worth fifty percent of my mark, and dammit, I was going to celebrate!
I could feel myself faking it. I could feel myself trying to make myself excited, but it all felt forced and futile.
It was too early for takeout.
No good movies playing in the theatre to go enjoy solo either.
What, oh what, shall I do?
I downloaded the audio version of No One Tells You This: A Memoir by Glynnis MacNicol and threw on my Converse sneakers, plugged in my earphones and walked to my local coffee shop.
I ordered my usual, a grande Americano with room for cream and sat down.
After I ordered, I looked around at all the other people in the coffee shop and silently observed them.
I kept making eye contact with a well dressed woman, who was slightly older than me. Had we been at a bar, I would have walked over, complimented her fabulous shoes and instantly created a new friend. By the end of the night, we would have exchanged numbers and met for brunch the following week. ‘How easy connections over cocktails can be,’ I lamented to myself.
You cannot do that sort of stuff sober. It is weird to go up to a perfect stranger, compliment them and start talking…its just not normal.
The barista called out for ‘Lisa,’ a pseudonym I use for when I do not have the energy to pronounce and spell my name for insignificant interactions in my life. I thanked her, took my lovely, fresh cup of caffeine and walked it over to the creamer station. One brown sugar and few glugs of creamer later, I was back on my short walk home, listening to newly purchased book.
I took my coffee onto my deck. It had started to rain lightly, and was growing stronger and stronger as I listened to chapter after chapter. I was enjoying every moment and smiling like a lunatic to myself, as the story unfolded in my ears.
After awhile, an hour, maybe more or less, my tummy’s grumblings told me it was time for takeout. I order my usual, from my favourite Thai place, slipped into my ‘home’ clothes, flung my bra as far away from me as possible, and settled down on the couch.
A new documentary was on Netflix and I could not have been happier by such a wonderful and unexpected surprise. I started watching the first episode of The Staircase as I munched away on lovely steamed coconut rice, fragrant red curry and spicy beef.
I thought about my friend and what she must be doing. ‘She probably really is sick,’ I lied to myself as the second episode of the show was loading. ‘She is resting and that is good,’ I continued, as I scooped another spoonful of rice onto my plate.
Is this what my life is going to be like while I am on this journey of assessing my relationship and the societal reliance on alcohol? Why is this is hard to do?
I sat there and asked myself if I was bored. I wasn’t, I honestly wasn’t; I was really enjoying my champagne-less celebration.
The funny thing was though, whenever I have celebrated with alcohol, I have never had to ask myself if I was enjoying myself. The question never seemed to bubble up, the booze always bowled such blasphemous theories away with the first sip.
Was this boring? Am I boring?
I didn’t feel bored, but yet again, I had never had to ask myself these questions when the booze was flowing.
What I have realized, by not drinking, is how much more space your mind has to think about so many things….sometimes it almost feels like too much space.
As I padded off to bed, well before midnight, I thought about texting my friend. I decided against it and put my phone on my nightstand, before closing my eyes.
Shortly after midnight, I heard the familiar sound of the front door unlock; my partner was home from a night out with friends. As per our usual routine, he came in with all his joy from the night, rushing in to fill the room and as much as I loved to hate it, he flicked on my bedside lamp to tell me how much he loved me and missed me during the evening. Booze always made him into a sap.
I laughed and asked him how his night was. He smiled mischievously at me and told me he had a surprise for me. He rushed out of the room and before he came back, I already knew what it was: midnight McDonald’s.
I laughed and told him I was not hungry. Cheap fast food only tastes fabulous after ingesting far too much booze. He looked hurt, so I grabbed a container of fries, so he could happily munch his midnight meal, without feeling like he was the only one being ‘bad’. We talked and he told me of his evening, as I dipped a salty potato stick into some mayo.
“I saw your friend Dia out tonight, she looked like she was having a lot of fun,” he said, in between bites of his cheeseburger.
I stopped and stared at him.
She had lied to me, just because of something so simple, me wanting to have sparkling water over champagne.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
I told myself not to cry.
The great thing about being sad around a boozed up boy is that their ability to read you is even worse than it normally is. I gulped back what felt like an anvil in my throat. I thought of my mother and what she would say if she was in the room with me, “Don’t be dramatic, this is you being dramatic.”
I was so hurt. I was so sad. I was so fucking angry.
Fuck her and her bullshit. If a woman, in her thirties, does not have the mental maturity to tell me, text to text, that she would rather die than spend a night with a sober me, and not her, I wasn’t telling her she couldn’t drink, she could have drank me out of house and home for all I had cared, well….fuck her then.
Who needs friends like that?
With the greasy wrappers all contained in our kitchen bin and my partner snuggled into the bed beside me, we were finally ready for sleep. My partner looked over at me, “I am really proud of you, you know? Its a good think you are doing and it isn’t easy.”
I smiled and kissed his smelly lips….people reek when they have been drinking and you haven’t.
It wasn’t easy, that was for damn sure and I wasn’t sure why. The only thing I realized from my champagne-less celebration night, for one, was that I still had so many questions I wanted answers to….and those answers were not at the bottom of a bottle of Dom Perignon.
The search for sober answers continues…..table for one please, I am celebrating…..