Abiding

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Late afternoon. She’s feeling twitchy and she doesn’t know why.

Actually that’s a lie. She knows exactly why.

It’s that time of day when she used to pour her first glass of wine. Now, though it’s been many years since she’s touched a glass of wine, the urge still strikes, always at the same time of day, late afternoon. Teatime now, but for a time, it was happy hour, when drinking was still fun and didn’t really mean anything.

She remembers those 2-for-1 frozen margaritas in Key West sitting upstairs at the bar getting an ice cream headache and watching a chicken crossing the road (because it can), before heading down to Mallory Square for sunset, dinner, more drinks, the drag show on Duval Street, more drinks, weaving home laughing to the B&B at the end of the night, lying awake listening to the roosters crowing all night. And margaritas and Coronas with lime at that crazy little beach bar at St. Pete Beach with the picnic tables in the sand and that ridiculous inflated Santa Claus that managed to get itself into everybody’s pictures.

It started innocently enough, back when her kids were little and she had a home daycare, and she’d survived another bitching hour — that half-hour or so just before all the parents started showing up, when everyone had had a snack and gone to the bathroom and done some craft or other, maybe played a game or two, and they were all bored with each other and starting to bicker. That half-hour that continued into the time it took to get them all sorted out, back into the right snowsuits-mitts-hats-scarves-boots and out the door with the right parental unit, each child beginning to whine in earnest as soon as they caught sight of mommy or daddy until the tiny vestibule by the front door was just a wall of noise. By the time the parents showed up she was quite happy to be rid of them all and left alone with her two boys, though she’d never admit that, and quite ready for a wee glass of sherry while she got the evening meal on the table and supervised homework. Usually that’s all it was, just a glass of sherry, and maybe occasionally a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer if it was a really hot summer’s day.

Then, later when the kids didn’t need her at home after school anymore, when they were in high school and had some extracurricular thing or other almost every night of the week and walked or took the city bus and didn’t get home till suppertime, she’d come home to a blessedly empty house after her shift at the supermarket, worn out by the muzak and the ridiculous complaints of the customers who streamed steadily through her checkout line from 8:00 to 4:00, worn out by being on her feet all day and listening to all the crap — you wouldn’t believe some of the crap people threw at her. So she’d bring home a bottle of wine from the store after work and get started on it while she chopped onions and garlic, got the chicken and potatoes into the oven, tossed greens into a bowl, set the table. Too often the bottle would be empty by the time she fell into bed after midnight, even when she was the only one drinking it. Sometimes a second bottle would have to be opened.

Every night she’d tell herself she’d quit tomorrow. And she’d hold out, usually, until late afternoon, late afternoon and dinner prep time.

And today, she’s twitchy. Knowing what it is doesn’t help. The only thing that helps is knowing the feelings will change, shift, fade. The only thing that helps is mindfulness practice, watching the feelings rise and set, shift and settle into something else. The only thing that helps is just allowing, accepting, letting all of it flow through her till it’s clear as well water.

The only thing that helps is abiding.

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