I found myself wondering tonight, as I sat with my wet hair in a teal, turban-esque towel situation, staring at the lamp lit reflection of myself in my apartment window, “when does daylight savings happen?” I remembered, then, that I used to sincerely dread and loathe the idea of losing an hour out of a night, not just for 60 minutes of precious sleeping time, but because that was an hour less I could stay out at the bar. This idea used to pain me. Yeah, seriously. “That’s at least a couple beers and a few shots of tequila I’m going to miss.” Yes, Old Self, and probably at least one other bad decision in the interim.
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in shots of tequila
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?
Or, better yet:
“For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?” -T.S. Eliot (I do not dare play with the words from this great master)
Okay, back to me:
I’ve had a lot of Old Self moments lately. On the phone earlier this afternoon my mother and I laughed (and winced) at my feeble attempts to give up alcohol for Lent (I’d say I tried this at least 3 years in a row before admitting I had a problem). I remember one year Lent began on the 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day. I didn’t make it 24 hours into Lent before deciding that wine, since they drink that in church, was okay at dinner. And then, of course, I switched to my usual repertoire of beer and shots of tequila or whiskey, sometimes both, and stayed out all night. “I’ll try again tomorrow, it’s a holiday.” This is always how it happened; this is always how it happens for an alcoholic.
Today, if I lost an hour, it would equate to an episode of House of Cards, a couple half hour HGTV shows on home renovation, or maybe a few chapters of a book. Or an AA meeting. Taking my dogs to the park. Something I’d actually remember. But I’m looking forward to saving some daylight, even if it costs a couple episodes of Love it Or List It. I actually go out in the day light now, I rejoice in it. I even actually like mornings.
I am not a practicing Catholic, per say, but I still feel drawn to some of the traditions. I wasn’t even a practicing Catholic when I tried to give up alcohol for Lent. I just thought, “if you don’t keep your Lenten promises, you’re an asshole, and I’m not an asshole, so I’m really going to make it for 40 days this time!” Turns out, I was, indeed, an asshole.
There’s something about the coming of spring and renewal–I mean, they even name dryer sheets after it. New Year resolutions were always a load of crap to me, but, for some reason, that Catholic guilt would creep in just a few weeks before spring and I’d find myself pining for some sort of religious experience that would set my course anew. I still don’t know what a religious experience would feel like, but I do know spiritual experience. And I know grace.
Today I’m glad that time takes time and I don’t care much about speeding it up or slowing it down. I think I might participate in Lent this year, an item on the Catholic buffet line I can’t resist, even though I’m probably more appropriately aligned with Buddhist traditions as of late. I know that some Christians might find my approach to religion rather sacrilegious, but I never claimed to be religious. Like I said, I’m in it for the spiritual perks.
As I grow nearer to my 1st birthday (one year of sobriety) I’ve been thinking a lot about my story. My drinking life, a.k.a. me as Old Self, has become less of simply a part of my story and more intricately woven into my grand narrative of selfhood. It is hard to imagine separating the two, like finding one single thread in the tapestry that has become my identity. I’m still not quite sure what that picture looks like, but I do know that Old Self must not be denied or separated from the whole that is me, as I know and understand myself today.
I’ve been afraid to write for a while, during those weird early months when the fog was lifting and everything seemed magnified. It still does, to an extent. I didn’t feel like I had any conviction, and even a blog post needs that. Looking back on how my drinking history weaves in and out of my larger narrative, I see that crisis is another tradition I’ve always been drawn to, particularly of the existential variety. Sometimes I still feel like I have no clue who I am and what that tapestry of me looks like. I genuinely feel, quite often, that I don’t belong anywhere. But then, when I remember my traditions–daily rituals, seasonal routine, holidays, birthdays–these things that bind us to a calendar, I start to feel like maybe this is how I figure it out. Maybe, if I just keep writing my story by recognizing how I relate to these arbitrary events in life, like daylight savings, then that image, my image, on that tapestry will grow larger and clearer until to dust I shall return.
Could it be that simple?