I had the last five days off from work. As a break in my usual routine, it was a nice time for me to catch my breath, and catch up on some tasks I needed to do. Mostly, though, it was a break from the grind of my day job.
In the past, it would have also meant a few evenings of imbibing and carousing, spending money and time drinking and seeking mental escape from the things that keep me awake at night. Of course, that’s not an option for me now, as I have gone sober, so what could have been a raucous week before Pride was actually quiet, thoughtful, and full of introspection.
Over the last two nights, though, I tested myself. I wanted to be around other queer people in a space that felt comfortable. For all of my gay life, that’s been at the bar. Not drinking, though, had never really been part of the equation. I wondered how I’d do.
My first visit, by myself? Awful.
Overwhelmed, unable to maintain composure, needing to hide and catch my breath more than once, it was such a strange experience. All of my bar friends were great, but watching them get more and more drunk was – a lot.
I left early. I was actually not ok.
I had to calm myself down before I drove.
Last night, however? Much, much better.
I was deft at ordering up ginger ale. Paid in cash, and left hefty tips for the bar. I was able to connect with friends who, one by one, told me that they were proud of me and my choice to go sober. Good conversation was had. Hugs. Laughs. Smiles. All the good parts of community and camaraderie.
I got home, tired and satisfied.
I slept like the dead.
And I felt like I could do it again, much like the first time I stepped into a gay bar.
Happy Pride, indeed.