Last weekend I took a quick jaunt down to Olympia to hang out with old college roommates and see a comedy show. The 70 minute journey was lengthened to 90 minutes due to an increase of state patrol activity along the I-5 corridor. I've noticed that since I've moved back to Washington, I love spending time in the car, which is weird because we have the second worst traffic in the fucking nation. The music, the endless chain-smoking, the steering wheel tapping, the boot stomping, and the constant checking of the rear view mirror are all symptoms of concrete jungle fever. The oversized lanes, originally meant to cater to military vehicles coming and going from Fort Lewis, have an uncanny ability to make the driver feel comfortable within the constraints of traveling long distances through the Pacific Northwest.
The Scurlock Treehouse, built by a bankrobber in the woods near the Evergreen State College.
I made it to Olympia and was quickly launched into autopilot. I didn't need to rely on street signs or a GPS; I simply went the ways of the one-way streets and roundabouts until I discovered the gentrified Westside of town. Olympia now has a Five Guys, a DSW, and an ULTA. I cruised around Harrison and Cooper Point and Evergreen Drive. I went around Capitol Lake and watched people run after their rescued dachshunds and gluten-free children. I finally made it downtown and stopped by the Gyro Spot, a restaurant that is crushing the local Mediterranean cuisine with the help of my friend Kenny. Four years ago, Kenny's gyro stand was simply a tent with a mobile grill on the corner of 4th and Adams. The business did extremely well due to the fact it was open late and pleased the bar crowd since most businesses were shut and dark by 9pm. Kenny, Trevor, Joe, and Thomas all worked the gyro stand at one point or another, and today, it's a brightly lit establishment with late hours and a satellite business near the Capitol Building. Kenny comped my soul food while I talked with Thomas and Joe about the new developments of the area. My favorite roommate Meghan stopped by with her equally awesome boyfriend and chatted me up about what brought me back.
"What brought you back to Seattle" has been a tough answer for me to give up because there are a lot of answers. I don't really want to give people the lengthy answer of, "Well, my boyfriend and I broke up and I was feeling the need to drink again and that my sobriety was slowly becoming threatened and I don't have any family in Minnesota and I think I could grow as an individual elsewhere and these winters fucking suck and I just really miss my mom and comedy has become more painful than pleasant and I just want to get fucking OUT." Instead, I simply leave it as "I had enough" or "it was time for a change."
Olympia is still full of transient kids who like to bounce around between California and Washington State. To this day, I still can't walk two blocks in Olympia without a kid with an oversized flannel shirt and untied boots asking me for a cigarette. I suppose it's cleaned up in that it's become more family friendly, but holy shit. If I ever hit rock bottom again, I wouldn't be surprised if I woke up near a dumpster outside of McCoy's Tavern. The changes downtown were noticeable. Jezebel's is no longer a business, meaning there's a lack of drunk jabronis who came down from Fort Lewis to start fights and rip their Affliction shirts. Friends ranging from bouncers to dealers to former classmates to drinking buddies were still freewheeling around while rolling spliffs with Bali Shag and an Alaskan Thunderfuck hybrid.
After attending a comedy showcase at Le Voyeur, I pounded back up the 5 to go home. After completing the drive from Seattle to Olympia and back hundreds of times, I still slow down at the U-turns in the median specifically designed for law enforcement. I still audibly react to Tacoma's weird smell. I still note the directions to Mount Rainier from Highway 18. It's good to be home. It's like being rereleased into the wild.
Today I am 196 days sober. I have not consumed 881 drinks. I have saved $1,325. I have not consumed 119,517 calories. I have two 6 month medallions, one for my nightstand and one for my pocket. I haven't had a drink in almost 200 days. 200 days is a long time. Spielberg shot Schindler's List in less than 200 days. As football season is rearing its ugly and overpaid head in my face, I will not be drinking during this year's season. Right now I'm watching the Seahawks' third preseason game with the Chargers, and for some reason, I still feel like I should be throwing back Coors Light and Caribbean Jerk wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. Well, it's not for some reason. It's because I developed profound mental muscle memory every Sunday. I'm not wearing my jersey, just my usual "I haven't left the house today" outfit of a wife beater and basketball shorts. Every day, I'm encountering things that make me want to drink, even though I know I'm not going to slip back into that alluring habit of self destruction. Coors is manufacturing a lager. And it's expensive. While I'd like to try it because I was a former slave of the Golden, Colorado company, I can't. Happy hour remains a siren, much like dive bars, Old Crow, and binge watching Netflix. There were a slew of activities I partook in that were distinctively accompanied by drinking, and now it feels strange to be watching preseason football while drinking a La Croix, my new vice.
I don't care how sober I am. I will never order a fucking mocktail.
Switching from a state that had tougher liquor laws to a state that has a looser set of restraints has been a larger adjustment than I originally anticipated. In Minnesota, you had to go to a liquor store to buy anything. If the liquor stores were closed, your choices were either to go to a bar or drive to Wisconsin. In Washington, you can pick up a fifth of Seagram's at Walgreens along with a birthday card and one of those shirts that claims to fit everyone. It's uncomfortable, but not threatening. When I buy cigarettes, I try not to look at my enemies. I smile and proclaim once again that I don't have a Rewards Card and that my phone number is not something I share with people who tell me "Be Well" before I anxiously head out the door.
Occasionally I buckle down and realize that I can never drink ever again. But that's why the old sages of AA tell newcomers to take it "one day at a time" and "easy does it" and "keep it simple." As long as I stay sober today, that's all that matters. If I can get through today, I can do it. Part of me is just too lazy and unmotivated to drink, which is ironic because I used to go to most lengths to get shithoused. Today, it's raining. I'm not dressed. I'm not wearing make up. I'm pretty comfortable on this couch. Drinking just isn't appealing right now. However, when I enter crisis mode, this scenario changes drastically. I want to drink. Despite hating the taste of alcohol, I yearned for just one drink to tie me over, which will undoubtedly turn into tens of hundreds of more in a span of a few months. It isn't worth it. I want to drink, but I can't. I won't. And to be honest, I'm scared to death of relapsing. Things were already bad, and I don't want to give my actions the momentum to be potentially WORSE. Drinking is stupid. Real, but stupid.
Comedy is progressing at an unexpected rate. For the month of September, I have seven shows, which is more than I did in Minneapolis in a span of six months. It's been nice to actually transition into the scene here instead of just the new kid that adds everyone on Facebook. "Oh! You're the comic who moved here from Minnesota." Yep, that's me. "You're Liz, yeah?" I'm Liz, yeah. Everyone here has been extremely welcoming. Initially, I'm treated as someone who started comedy last week. But after telling people I've been active in the Minneapolis scene for the last four years, people become extremely interested in how the Minneapolis scene is compared to the Seattle scene. People have asked me if I know Minneapolis comics or if I've ever worked with so-and-so. It's like switching schools.
Everyone in Seattle is thrilled it's raining. Yeah, you read that right. The entire state has been under a burn ban for the last few months, and today we received some significant rain and storms. It's been incredibly warm and dry since spring and today it really feels like a sweet summer rain with the temperature hovering around 68. Kitty is napping and occasionally watching the big drops fall down from a few ominous clouds. Mom and I are both on our computers while feigning interest in this sad excuse of a preseason game. It's the preseasoniest of preseason games. I wonder what Pete Carroll eats for breakfast. Probably Pete-ies. You know, like Wheaties.
I also would have thrown a challenge flag on that shitty pun.