I'm on holiday in Noosa, Australia. It's the morning of day two and I'm weary after the two youngest members of the family decided 3am was "morning time". We're staying in a magnificent beach villa with our in-laws. It's a special place. The kids are loving catching up with their cuzzies. Life is good.
In the past, holidays have meant relaxing, getting away from the stresses of the daily grind and spending time with family. Once the afternoon rolls around it's time for a few beers and then maybe some wines over the evening - no need to get up early for work, all morning to recover, not a care in the world. Sometimes we'd kick on, but heavy drinking sessions became a thing of the past once the kids arrived. Well, mostly. I can't remember a holiday in my adult life where alcohol hasn't been one of the main links in the chain.
Not this time. Well, not for me anyway.
This morning, I'm sober and clear-headed, apart from being a bit grumpy after the bad sleep. Before I left, Living Sober members told me I would savour this feeling, of not being seedy and hungover. And I am.
When we landed at Brisbane airport yesterday morning, we had a bit of time before our bus so we headed for a cafe to get something to eat, and a proper coffee. I was lining up and saw the rows of Corona, and Peroni in their front cabinet. Corona and Peroni have always been drinks synonymous with holiday mode for me. I flashed back to the countless Coronas I drank during our yearly trips to Mount Maunganui. Peroni became my favourite beer after my first, and only, trip to Rome, when my first Italian experience of note was sitting outside a restaurant eating real Italian pizza in the sun and sipping away at a crate-bottle-sized Peroni. It never quite tasted as good outside of Italy but since then it has been tops in my eyes (it's interesting how we lift a mere beverage, a brand, to such lofty status).
When we arrived in Noosa we got settled in and I went to help do the first food and beverage run. My wife put in her order for Rose, and the other lads stocked up on wine and beer. When we got back we started preparing dinner and my bro-in-law and father-in-law had a few quiets.
I think one of the signs that I've broken through to the sober-living side is that I don't feel like I'm missing out. I can go and do a beer run, I can see my old favourites in the drinks cabinet and I can be around drinkers and be fine with it. In many ways the easy part is deciding to give up drinking. It's what comes later that tests your resolve.
I catch myself watching people in public now, thinking things such as, 'you look like you've had a hard night on the turps last night' or 'you look like a drinker'. Stuff like that. I'm starting to see everything, and everyone, through my prism as a non-drinker.
It's being comfortable in the world of drinking that's the key. I'm 51 days sober today. I've never gone this long without drinking. But adding days to my sober tally isn't a slow, painstaking grind. It's getting easier. It's becoming part of my lifestyle, and a valued part of who I am.
I looked out to the beach from our balcony last night and soaked in the exquisite view. I took extra notice of the details. I sat there, surrounded by the people I love, and the people who love me, and felt truly happy. Happy in myself, and happy to be living sober.
I'm happy to be seeing things from a sober perspective.
I'm not sure that Sober Living was one of the main things on Jim Morrison's mind when he wrote this, but its title seems appropriate:
Breaking Through to the Other Side