Sometimes it’s good to get away, even if you don’t go far.
It’s even better to get away and connect with the important people in your life. I mentioned, back in January, that I’d found and come to love Pete, another client at my rehab center. When I graduated rehab earlier this month, one of my greatest fears was that I would lose touch with Pete. He’d become a part of my daily life that I not only came to look forward to, but to cherish.
It’s become one of my goals, in sobriety, to keep the people who are special in my life close to me. I’ve always had trouble keeping friends. Not because I’m difficult, though, I am difficult, but, because I tend to isolate to the point that friends aren’t a priority. I know that this has to change. And, Pete is the first test run.
Pete, like me, is an isolator. So, I know that I have to be vigilant about keeping up with him. We’re addicts of the same variety, and while our drugs of choice may be different, our hermit-like natures are not.
So, this weekend I took myself on a little road trip. Fifty miles south to our state’s capitol: Salem, Oregon, and home to my bestie and “rehab husband,” Pete.
I drove down, cigarette in hand, blasting music. I felt independent and free as fresh air and little drops of Oregon rain blew in through the driver’s side window. Even though it had only been a mere, few days since I’d last seen Pete it felt like I was taking an epic journey to reconnect with an old, timeless friend.
I arrived at his condo and parked the car. I came equipped with enough sweets to feed a tribe of chocolate-thirsty addicts and a selection of cheesy movies to watch. I brought baking supplies, pajamas, and grippy slippers. It was going to be an epic “girls” night and I couldn’t have been more stoked.
We dined at the ever-classy Applebee’s. Rehashing rehab stories, talking shit about other clients, and sharing our plans and dreams for our new-found sobriety. Pete is easy to talk to and, like me, he has a good head on his shoulders. Though relapse has been a part of his story in the past, as I sat and chatted with him over creole blackened shrimp pasta, I couldn’t help but think that this time, he’s got sobriety on lock.
We’re both committed to our new states of happiness. While he wasn’t a drunk, Pete’s addiction took him to some pretty dark places. And, the better I get to know him, the more we both open up. It’s invaluable having a friend like Pete in sobriety. Not only does he love and appreciate me for who I am, my soul and humor, my wit and sarcasm, but, he understands that empty place that others just can’t get to. He’s had that no-way-out feeling too. And, with both of us succeeding in sobriety today, it gives me infinite hope for the future.
After dinner, we PJ’d up and piled onto the couch with entirely too much sugar in our systems and watched the Sandra Bullock movie ’28 Days.’ The ridiculous, and at more than one moment, touching, rehab movie made us laugh and smile. We sent knowing looks at each other between shoveling red velvet cookies, chocolate, and yellow cake sticky bars into our mouths. And, I realized, this is life, in sobriety, and it’s fun.
The next morning after coffee, tea, and hugs, I took my leave. I drove the hour-long distance back to Portland where another peaceful Sunday morning awaited me. And, the entire drive, I thought about all these gifts sobriety has given me. Tools for living, friends who understand and stick with me, unwavering. I’m beginning to find joy in things that I never thought I could without a drink in my hand or a joint between my fingers. Living life as it happens, awake, is so much brighter and the smallest nuances of friendship are so much more meaningful.
Pete graduates from rehab next Friday. And, I’m more excited for his graduation than I was for my own. He’s made considerable sacrifices to make rehab work in his life and in his family’s life, and I’m so proud of his achievement and his strength. And, after my weekend respite in Salem, I know that a good time, with a good friend, is only an hour’s drive away.
And, these days, even an hour’s journey is a new adventure.