I don't know how you full-time sober people do it. I mean, I am a full-time sober person now myself — I am two weeks and three days in – but I am kind of new to this twenty-four-hours-a-day-seven-days-a-week sobriety, and it is at once very slow-moving and highly dramatic.
photo taken using the iPhone's PictureShow app
Time takes two to two hundred times longer to go by than it did when I was drunk and/or hungover, and, not only that, but I can also feel and remember everything while it is dragging by. Intoxicant free, sober reality feels very suspenseful and incredibly boring and memorable in its every minute detail. It's like I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for time to leak by in the slow hiss of a way it has now while my emotions are set to an amplitude of ten.
When you're not drunk, it turns out, your emotions feel sharpened to a fine point.
Three days ago, I was certain that I had been sober for at least three weeks. The Palinode corrected me and said that it had only been two weeks since I'd had my last drink. The truth felt kind of defeating, because it really felt like two months, but, still, two weeks! That's good no matter how you look at it.
The last three day since then, though, have been three of the ess-ell-oh-double-u-ee-ess-tee dee-ay-why-ess of my entire life. I have lived six months in these three days, which means that the last seventeen days have felt like EIGHT MONTHS. It's ridiculous.
And it's also very suspenseful and incredibly boring and memorable in its every minute detail.
You see, when I was drinking, I got drunk, time whizzed by, I passed out, and then I had forgotten half the night by the time I had woken up. Time just disappeared on me constantly. Days, weeks, and months ran through my brain like water through a sieve. I lamented the speed with which my life was careening along, but it is hard to regret what you don't remember, so I just kept careening along. Now it is all there, remembered, plodding along at this steady and predictable pace, and there seems to be so damn much of it all the time.
For instance, there are fourteen hours and fifty-three minutes left in today. That's a lot of hours and minutes to pace through. Before, I would be getting my drink on by six o'clock and slamming into tomorrow morning before I knew it. Now I have a functioning brain for all of those hours that is aware of every passing moment and that will probably remember all of those passing moments tomorrow.
I am not yet used to these long strings of remembered moments. Right now, it feels like I am one of those extremely boring individuals who, when you ask them about their day, tells you about every single damn mundanity, such as what condiments they had on their sandwich at lunch and whether they had had exact change for the bus on their way to the library. The problem is that I am the extremely boring individual going through all the mundanity, and I can't excuse myself from myself anymore.
Don't get me wrong. I don't actually prefer my previous method of existence. It is such a terrible waste to pour so much of this one life I've been given, almost literally, down the drain. I don't want to go back to that. It's just that this new sobriety thing almost feels like an unfamiliar drug I have to get used to with its new sense of time and heightened emotional state.
I used to have a cigarette or get loaded or smoke a joint to balance myself out one way or the other. Now that I've quit all of that, I just have potatoes and coffee.
Seriously. Potatoes. And coffee. I've used potatoes to help calm my anxiety since the 1990s, and the coffee's been perking me up since 1987. And then I get to experience more of this voluble time that all you sober people have been dealing with all along. And me, too, now, I guess. Because I'm sober now, too.
So, I've got potatoes and coffee and time.
Potatoes. Coffee. Time.
It's an adjustment, I'll tell you that.