why is it that a mere two days and two nights camping seems ssooooooooo much longer? is it because every single activity takes at least eighteen times longer than it does in a house? is it because you spend considerably more of the day awake than usual? is it because the gap between a run on Tuesday morning and the one squeezed in on Thursday evening is greater than is helpful for someone as grouchy and cross-eyed with tiredness as I now am? or all of the above? if you have actually been camping for anything longer than a couple of days you have my wholehearted respect. possibly even reverence. two nights is sufficient to remind me how enormously, ridiculously lucky we are just to have a roof over our heads and hot and cold running water…
weather was rainy on day 1, fine on day 2. wet, cold and sleepless followed by merely tired and grubby – an improvement! golly, am spoilt cow. had lovely time really.
can camp sober! am miracle worker! so, expectations met vs. surprises encountered:
going out for pee after lights out is, as expected, vastly improved by being sober. no tripping over guy ropes, or dangerous encounters with nettles. ditto campfire safety, tent erecting/maintenance/taking down. all practicalities greatly improved by the removal of alcohol.
didn’t miss having a drink whilst camping. seemed faintly bizarre idea, like bringing along a grand piano. just no call for it, really. other people had a bit on night 1, and looking at photos of night 2 I see we all just had hot chocolate 🙂
however anticipated difficulty in getting to sleep without the cosh of alcohol was also met. despite being shattered could not fall asleep, due to unfamiliar surroundings – listening out for badgers, wild boar, golden eagles, rhinos etc who might be trying to enter tent and disembowel occupants. (you never know.) also numerous loo trips particularly on first night after following MTM’s sage advice and drinking camomile tea – but too much camomile tea. quantity control required in future!
the one that I am still grinning about is that I finally managed to have A Proper Talk about me getting sober with the wife of the family we were camping with. she is what I would describe, if I were 35 years younger, as a BFF. and, as I posted back in March, and again a few days ago, I have been feeling sad about not having found a way to talk to her about it.
on Tuesday lunchtime Mr P offered BFF a glass of wine, which she turned down, saying that she was ‘cutting down’. on Tuesday evening she had a single glass of wine. she was never as determined a drinker as I was, but this was still unusual for her. so I thought, dammit, suppose she is going through the booze mill too? but doesn’t know how to talk to me about it? how ridiculous would that be? (which she is not, btw.)
anyway the next morning we were both awake preposterously early. sitting swathed in rugs, in (relative) warmth and comfort, sipping tea before anyone else was up. bliss. and I could have opened the conversation by saying, “I’ve never really talked to you about this, but…” which just felt like too big a step. so instead, in a fiendishly cunning move worthy of Miss Marple herself, I dropped it into another conversation in a way which implied we had already discussed it.
minus the white gloves. and some of the wrinkles.
we were talking about what it is like to have been married for a considerably long time (which I hate to tell you, chaps, is the sort of thing women talk about in all the time they save whilst not discussing ruddy SPORT) and I said that nowadays I didn’t expect Mr P to ‘get’ everything that was important to me, such as how difficult it’s been to stop drinking.
and being a Good Friend she concluded that conversation before looking at me quizzically, and asking,
“Did you know that Mr P asked us specifically NOT to mention your not drinking? and that he made a really big thing of it?”
um. no?! when was this?
when we went to lunch with them back in December, apparently. which is why she has never mentioned it since. at my request, so she thought. *bangs head on wall*
and am not cross at all with Mr P, or with BFF. the former was doing what he thought would be helpful to me, and the latter what she thought I wanted. and I had thought either she hadn’t noticed, or she had noticed and she thought I was being extreme, or she had noticed and she felt defensive about her own consumption. which just goes to show you should never assume that you know all the facts about any situation, right?
so, having cleared that up, was able to have a scary but really necessary conversation about it. because she is a dear friend and I am sick of hiding who I am. I have spent far too long lying and hiding in shadows about my booze consumption. why on earth should I be ashamed now I am dealing with it? it was great to be able to talk to her about it. she was very empathetic and non-judgemental as of COURSE she was always going to be. she particularly liked the line I told her about ‘alcohol is the only drug you have to justify not taking’. changing attitudes one person at a time….
making my outside match my insides is a truly glorious feeling. it was wonderful. like rising up away from the old me in my new sober balloon, throwing out another sack of ballast that was dragging me down.
because stopping drinking is a big deal – but being sober is not weird. if we can talk about it frankly to those close to us, we are doing not just ourselves, but the world, a service.
and, more surprises: on one of those umpteen middle of the night loo trips, I looked up, and saw not one, but two shooting stars.
…just in case I hadn’t noticed the first one, don’t you know. thank you, Universe!
74 days to go to one year.