Is It Possible to Stay Sober Over Summer Vacation?
We arrived breathless at the Vedado home, a stately stone structure with a modern interior, eager to learn the secrets of Cuban cuisine despite our late arrival. My new husband and I were famished in the way of travelers who, lost in time and space, didn’t feel hunger until the situation grew dire. We pulled up to the table, lovingly set with custom flatware and bejeweled napkin rings, ready to chop and dice our way into a full meal.
But first, Mojito time!
I should’ve known. After traveling the globe sober, I’ve turned down more free drinks than I was ever offered when I was actually drinking.
Feeling like the oddball nondrinker had been an unsavory aspect of being sober in a drinker’s world from the start. Back then, I couldn’t imagine heading off to parts unknown without even wine to smooth the path. Was I really supposed to enjoy Paris without Champagne? India without arrack? Thailand without Singha?
Alcohol, the great icebreaker
I always wanted to travel. Having grown up in a family that moved all the time — no, not military; you can read more about my mom here and my dad here — I was primed for it. I was twelve when started saving for a junior year trip to France.
From that first self-funded journey, drinking was part of traveling. There was no better way to meet locals than at bars. Was it really a big deal if that occasionally involved throwing up on them?
Alcohol was critical to my so-called social life. So what if I hadn’t traveled anywhere in a while, and said “life” mostly involved knowing where to find private bathroom stalls.
When at last I quit drinking and using, I worried. Beyond travel, I couldn’t imagine how I’d date/make friends/comport myself at fundraisers if I wasn’t able to drink. Yes, this overlooked how the trajectory I was on did not include indoor plumbing.
By the time I was able to actually travel, I was ready. Not only had I been sober for years, I had the shelter of a husband who liked to drink. One look at us and it was clear somebody needed to stay sober. I didn’t realize the pressure this…