I went to Nashville and all I got was a gaudy, blingy half marathon metal and alone time with my boyfriend! OH WAIT. I like that stuff.
The things I didn’t get: in a fight on the street with my boyfriend, a hangover, or PADS, an abbreviation my friends and I had for a made-up hangover disease, post alcohol depression syndrome, before I knew that was a real thing alcohol did to your body. I didn’t lose anything. I didn’t break anything. I only cried once, and that was when I crossed the finish line, after running for 13 miles. I ate ice cream in bed, but not because it was the only thing my hungover body could keep down. I was just pleasantly tired from the yoga class we went to, and my body told me that the next obvious step in this magical day was to eat treats in bed.
I promise that I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, especially people who still drink. Most of the people I love drink. The truth is, I’m writing in the car, on this 8 hour trip home, full of anxiety, because life is still waiting for you when you get home from vacation. I spend mental energy, trying to figure out how to be calm when I just want to scream. I wrestle with the future, and the things I think I missed out, and the things I’m scared I won’t experience. So don’t worry. I’m still a human. I just don’t drink. But that has been everything. It’s been more than I thought it would be. It was the quickest way to cut the bullshit in my life in half. There’s still bullshit, and I still get in my own way, and I still learn through trial and error every single day. So totally human. Just not a human with a drinking problem. Still a human who wants to go on vacation though. So. How did I go to Nashville and have the best time you can have in 48 hours? I tried stuff, and found some things that worked. Here’s what I liked:
- I went to bed early and got up early. Party animal, right? When I say get up early, I mean, got up early to make tea and coffee and got back in bed. When you are drunk, you pass out and do not appreciate delicious beds. When you are sober, you can wake up and smash your face all over the dreamy cloud that is the bed you are paying to sleep in and it does not make your head ring. Find a good hotel/airbnb and make sure that bed is rad. Then make a nest and get up in that shit. So good. You can also walk around town before everyone else, get your explore on, and eat meals at odd times to avoid a rush.
- Exercise in a new place is more fun than at home. Try a yoga/trampoline/sport thing that you wouldn’t try at home. 20 bucks for a class is like 2 cocktails worth of dollars. If you were able to do that, you can go to the fancy ass barre studio.
- Energy for travel. Less booze means more energy. When I got sober, I realized that travel makes me nervous. I didn’t know that, because I would just drink when I traveled, because drunkeness and hangovers were comforting in their familiarity. A weird sense of unease is harder to define, but once I accepted that the first night of a trip has me feeling bizarre, I was able to be ok with it. The first night in Nashville, we holed up in our room and played a board game, and I didn’t worry that I was missing out on something. Did you ever drink because you were supposed to be having fun, but then you don’t really get drunk or you just sort of feel gross and wake up feeling shitty and tired either way? Yeah, me neither….haha just kidding, I’ve felt that way like a million times. No more though, and I’ve never missed it.
- More time, money, and calories for spending on ice cream. Or whatever. Vegan queso. A steak. If you do not worry about your caloric intake, good for you. Please tell me how you do that. I do, and therefore appreciate the feeling I have found in sobriety of more ease in my body when I’m out eating ice cream if I didn’t drink a days worth of calories in wine the night before. My body is all about those ice cream on vacation calories.
- I remember every damn thing we did. I remember every sweet look from my boyfriend. I have the patience to walk around the art museum and listen to a guided audio tour, because I am not thinking about when we’re going to the next bar. I make nicer memories now.
If there’s one thing I’ve found out about sobriety and travel is that you might just have to flip everything on it’s head. You might just not do things that center around drinking. Bars are just places to drink to me now, I don’t go to them, and it’s not sad. I don’t feel sad when I pass a dive bar, and see a cute girl giggling with her boyfriend, bar stools scooched up close to each other. I used to, but I don’t now, and so I’m telling you, in case you’re on the other side of that kind of longing. It’s hard to see things you think you might miss in sobriety. I promise there’s more over here though. Nashville, Paris, Chicago, Dublin…these places I’ve been since I quit, I realize that I wasn’t giving them enough credit. They’re more than enough without alchohol. Just like you. Just like me. Let’s keep exploring. I feel like there’s a whole new world out there.