The beads of sweat on the squared-off glass left tiny tracks of dampness on their way to the drink-mat on the bar table upon which the mid-sized glass sat. I pondered that glass for quite some time before indulging in any of its contents.
Contained therein was a double vodka on the rocks. No wasteful diluting of good booze with water, just the ice to keep it cool. It looked inviting. It was inviting.
I was at YVR – Vancouver’s international airport – and had just completed a nine hour flight from London. I was tired and haggard and a bit hungover so the drink was to be cherished greatly. I had completed a three-week solo trip to England. My first time back since I lived there in the early 1980s. It was supposed to be wonderful – a special gift from me to me. It wasn’t, for reasons I’ll mention later.
So, tired and haggard and throw in a hefty dose of unspeakably lonely and isolated and you have the state of me at that moment.
I looked again at the drink before taking a sip. And then I took a sip and I spent some time working through it. I lingered, I tarried. I knew I had to appreciate it unlike any alcoholic elixir I had ever consumed. I had to appreciate it because of a promise I had made to myself. The promise was that this was to be my last drink of alcohol in my life so it had damn well better be good.
That was on June 5th, 1997. Seventeen years ago this June 5th. And it was in truth, with no compromises ever, my last drink. And then something I would have never imagined was possible, transpired. Not only did I drink my last belt I have never since that time craved another. How can that be so? Determination? Willpower? Divine intervention? Or maybe I was tired of losing all that I had been losing.
The previous year I had lost a relationship and marriage to a woman who was without question, my destiny. That absolute love of my life. How could I have fucked up so badly. Well, me and booze were not a good mix. The relationship was gone, but I knew it had to be up to me to not lose any more of my life to this addiction.
The time in the UK was meant to be good, but it was beastly in its loneliness and I missed my ex with utter agony. And so I drank to ease the pain. It didn’t. The stuff no longer worked anything resembling magic. So, from that perspective I realized my message was that it was unneeded in my life. My obligation was to resurrect. To Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of my life and move on.
And blessedly that is what has happened. And life is good. And I seize it as much as I can, grateful for the years and good health I have been given.
That double-vodka 17 years ago was a very fine drink because it was the only one of my recall to ever do what it was meant to and that was to fulfil its promise; the promise being that it would be my last.
Oh, and in writing this I don’t mean to suggest that I despise the concept of alcohol. We had some mighty good times, me and booze. But then they stopped being good times. If they are still good times for you, then belly up to the bar and have one for me. In fact, so strong was my commitment that I can merrily meet with you in a bar and have no craving to have what you have.
I guess I became a little bit blessed on that June day 17 years ago.