St. Patrick's Day when you are sober
Updated: May 14
Yesterday, it occurred to me at one point that it was a big drinking day. Evan reminded me that it was the start of March Madness as well. He said that the beginning of it sometimes falls on 3/17 which was always a fun excuse to sit around and drink even more. In college or law school, he said they would sit in the pubs all day drinking and watching basketball.
I remember living in the city right after Colby and wanting to do something fun on this day, because it was such a drinking event back in college. I wanted to still feel like I was back on Mayflower Hill. So, I went to the first Irish bar I could find on Boylston street after work, and I had a green beer at four o'clock in the afternoon by myself. I sat waiting for Evan to get out of work early, and it felt awkward to drink alone in a bar. It wasn't the same as it was in college on St. Patrick's Day. The energy was off.
At Colby, we had a party every year that started the night before, went all day long and lasted well into the evening of St. Patrick's Day. It was called Doghead. We usually took Adderall and Red Bulls to stay awake as long as we did, headed to the office campus house that was hosting the event and consumed an unhealthy amount of alcohol. The entire campus would descend upon the Farmhouse or the Lodge, and kegs of green beer were ordered in advance. We day drank in the sunshine, hanging out in head to toe green costumes in the freezing cold snow. We danced on ten foot tall snow banks, played drinking games all day and took pictures with our disposable cameras. We peed in snow banks and slipped on the ice. We even ate live goldfish! I have no idea why we did that - but it was a tradition. I always ended the day bruised and cut up, missing shoes and jackets and other accessories. I never remembered the end of the day, and it was often a mystery as to how we got home.
Now, as an adult, I hate this holiday. I am sober and my kids want to build Leprechaun traps and eat Lucky Charms, and I just want to get past the day. I know this is my old self, wanting to forget the mistakes of my past. I want to escape the memories. Move quickly through it. Not feel.
Instead, I sat with the feelings yesterday for a bit. I thought about who I was when I ate orange goldfish, drank green beer and peed in the snowbanks. I was a child. I was a lost kid, looking for the next escape. The next fun thing to take me away from the stress, fear or discomfort I was feeling at the time. College was fun, but it was difficult. For me, it was when I met my husband and some of my closest friends. But it was also when my parents got divorced and when I was at one of my saddest points. Alcohol was a friend to me. Maybe it was my closest ally, when what I truly needed was kindness and self-compassion.
I am grateful to have the ability to reflect and be retrospective today about who I was back then. I am happy to wake up everyday now with the clarity of a sober mind. I know now I will never go back to living in such darkness.