Tuesday marked my 100th consecutive morning of waking up without drinking the night before. Do I feel a million times better? Not particularly. My insomnia still rages. I miss the burn of a Manhattan and the ease with which alcohol flips the switch from stressed to carefree. I wonder if I’ve become boring, my role as party queen evaporated, my joie de vivre dampened.

A recent weekend camping with friends tested this. We’d planned the adventure for months, made sure to get tested (everyone was vaccinated, natch) and had ensured a fully outdoor setup. I wasn’t worried about pressure from others, but I did wonder how my social skills would manifest after laying mostly dormant for months and without alcohol oiling them up. 

Turned out, just fine. I embraced karaoke – “Like A Prayer,” “Jam On It,” “I Will Survive” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” – with more enthusiasm than I’d ever found drunk. Not only could I dance sober, but my hula hooping ability returned (after some practice). I stayed up till 1 a.m. energized by friendship instead of booze, woke up in the morning not feeling like death and remembering everything from the night before. This hiatus has its upsides.

And I need upsides. 

But this is not a post meant to be a confessional about my drinking habits so much as wanting to acknowledge that I’ve done, am doing, something hard (admittedly in very comfortable surroundings) and it has been worth it. Hard things often are.

I strive to write more.

I’m also pushing myself to get out of the house and into the surrounding nature daily. I get lazy and have to remind myself that “laziness” can be a sign of depression and nothing staves off depression like the ocean, the bay, the dunes, the redwoods.

Geese have filled the sky lately. I notice them as I roll my bike off the deck and onto the driveway. They pass overhead, thirty or so, a classic V, flying toward dawn. I pedal down my street onto the rural highway that divides my town into an ocean-side and a bay-side. Usually I route through side streets to minimize the chance of being nailed by a careless driver, but the road has only one-way traffic at the moment due to construction along the shoulder. A cable to Singapore, they say. 

Two weeks into Fall and the mornings show it. Not cold enough to bite, more a nibble, this chill. I consider buying warmer leggings, a new bike seat. I remember I’m trying to get out of debt, which leads to all the worries sinking teeth into me. Pay attention to the good stuff, I remind myself, like how the high tide and lack of wind transforms the bay into a mirror reflecting the golden sky. So pretty, in fact, I stop to take a photo, which is when I notice an animal carcass up ahead. A cat most likely. Poor thing. Cars are the worst. As I pedal by, the cat turns out to be a fox, somehow even sadder, although it means at least no one had lost a pet. 

This is a story in which nothing much happens. 

My life lately is a series of wanting to come in like a rock star – to everything – confidence overflowing, competence on full display. Only whatever brilliance filled me in the thinking keeps fading in the doing. I remember a time with constant parties and company, and somehow I wrote more then – more to write about maybe, more inspiration to draw from a life busy and varied, unlike now in these fugue state times. 

And yet, even this morning on my bike, my brain spins with ideas to write about this and that. But then the work day happens and the puttering about the house and my knee hurts and my hip hurts and I can’t get comfortable enough to type unhindered, even with the couch and the blanket and the pillows.

The sky turns pink outside the cobwebbed windows and I look up through the window, beyond the spider on the other side of the glass, and there are the geese again, winging their way alongside the setting sun.