I woke at 5, brewed the coffee, and lit a candle. Maybe the first morning in two years I’d woken without any alcohol the night before. I’d done a dry January enough times now, I’d developed some nostalgia with it. You can make anything better in hindsight with nostalgia.
In the past, I let myself believe I didn’t feel any better in the mornings without drinking the night before. And likely because I was counting the days until February. But this morning I felt refreshed, like I could do anything. I turned the heat up, put the music on, and sat on the edge of our sofa journaling.
Why do I drink? Lily said it has to do with my pain, she said that when we went camping. I didn’t want to talk about it any more with my 13-year-old, but maybe I should have. There are a hundred reasons why I drink that together form a reality but alone, don’t make much sense. We broke it down with our friends Chris and Kelly, and a lot of it comes down to letting go, trying to relax at the end of the day. You can make a similar argument about needing coffee to wake up though, you really don’t.
Brad and I took a last walk to the lake before he left, and he asked if I’d ever made leaf people. The salal was good for that—he snatched one off a shrub, folded it in half, then punched out two eyes and a mouth with his thumbnail. I told him how much I loved the ponderosa pines in our back yard, by the hammock: but he said that’s odd, to have ponderosas in western Washington…so I asked him to take a look, and he explained the pattern in the bark isn’t ponderosa because it’s contiguous—not like ponderosa, which is more like puzzle pieces. And of course I’d never noticed that before, right here in our back yard.
On New Year’s day I went back up Cougar Mountain for the first time in a few months, to Shy Bear Pass, then down the Nawang Gombu cliffs trail, named after a sherpa friend of Jim Whittaker, the climber from Seattle. There was a wooden bench with a small registry at the top, and a plaque with a quote reading ‘may you find inner peace, tranquility, and safety on the trails.’
In the last dream before I awoke, I imagined one of the leaf people Brad made for me spoke, I saw the mouth moving like a puppet mouth, but it spoke in a language I couldn’t understand, and I wondered what it meant.