Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Lateness of the Hour

So here I am at the end of this year, which I have alternately called my annus horribilis and my annus mirabilis, depending upon what part of the year I'm talking about. Spare me the annus jokes. The lateness of the hour will keep these notes short, but I wanted to get them in before the turn of the calendar year.

The calendar year. That's a funny way to think of time now, because for weeks and weeks now, everything's measured not from January 1, but from August 12 - when I decided to not drink again. That's New Year's Day now; that's the midnight I look forward to clanging in with a pot and a wooden spoon. So just pray that you're not my neighbor late next summer.

But time in general feels so different now; it's all measured in ways I never measured it before.  Lots of sixty-minute chunks, or days in multiples of thirty. The big cliché is "one day at a time," but just last week I found myself needing to live life one minute at a time for a bit...which worked out so well that I turned around and offered it as advice to a friend in turmoil. That's not a deep thought or anything; sorry for the bumper stickeryness of it. I'll try to keep the aphorisms to a minimum from here on out.

I do feel like big-T Time is adding up in my favor, that I'm gathering more of it each day, that more of it ends up in the plus-column. All that time dedicated to my addiction -- to looking for the money to pay for it, to figuring out how to keep that money secret, to going to get the wine, to drinking the wine, to passing out and sleeping poorly through the best hours of the night -- is now time I'm not quite sure what to do with. It seems to be pointing back to art-making and ha, that would be funny after all this time of thinking that part of my life was over. Arts and craft hour at DG's! Come on over and bring your yarn and popsicle sticks; we'll make those spinny twirly things.  And there's more time to go on a hike, or go somewhere and pitch a tent and start a fire and watch the night sky spin. I'm still figuring out what to do with it all.  I haven't had a drink; that much I can tell you. And I can tell you exactly how many days it's been: one hundred and forty-two.

Toward the end of fall, when the weather still showed signs of clemency, I made a habit of rising earlier than usual to let the dog out. Mabel would sniff out traces of nighttime rabbit frolics in the front yard while I sat on the porch and thought about different things, practicing my new morning meditation. My brain was usually docked in that in-between place, where I was thinking about whatever dream I had just had and the mechanics of the day I had ahead and I loved it if I could extend that feeling just a little longer, if I could keep my dream and the day ahead intermingled for as long as possible...sort of a mental salt point. Eventually the time wore on and the fresh water of morning would arrive and the day would open up before me. But this was time I never had before, so every one of those autumn mornings surprised me.

It's colder now, of course. I've been run off the porch by the season's sharp frosts and I've been run out of the woods whenever I thought it would be a good idea to go spend some time there. Frozen fog and rime are no friends of the tent camper. But I can look ahead at the calendar and make some marks and some little penciled promises to get back out there when the weather turns again, when all this time I've found adds up to a day or two here, a day or two there.  For all of the manic drunken panic during my frenzied drinking life, all the worry and stress that things wouldn't, couldn't get done, it turns out there is just loads of time. Twenty four hours of it every day.

That's cider in those glasses.


Sue Dickman said...

This is lovely, DG, and it's been wonderful to see your progress from afar. Please keep posting here. My boyfriend hit 30 years of sobriety this past November--and even after 30 years, he still thinks of Thanksgiving time--when he decided to stop--as a special marker each year.

Alan Herbers said...

Thank you DG.
I had to do the math, but today i have 323 days.
Your observations are an inspiration: thought-provoking, some times humorous and usually a good read.
Who would have thought that when we met in 1989 that our friendship network would be as hearty as it is.
Temperance as emboldened your spark into a beacon.
I wish you the best in 2014.

laurene scalf said...

Thank you for this, for the beauty of expression and your candor. All the best to you in this new year and in the one you mark in August.

Kate Maloy said...

One hundred forty days and all of them longer than the preceding one hundred forty! How wonderful.