07:20 My crazy friend is back in town. The last time she was back in town I drank nearly all the wine on her table, staggered home, slurry-drunk-commented all over people’s blogs (non-deletable/editable except by blog owner, thank you Automattic/Gravatar you wonderfully creepy thing you!), and then wrote a possibly still-drunk BLOG POST in the morning and hit “Publish.”
I love myself so much sometimes. I think I self-sabotage just so I can come back stronger. Please Tree let that be the case….
Mmkay. So here is a post about the crazy friend. And when I say crazy friend I do mean that in a good way, one crazy lady about another. I actually don’t think I can be real friends with people who aren’t crazy ladies…. hmm just realizing that in this moment… yup, pretty much think that’s true. If you’re not a bit crazy I’ll probably be bored by you. Or intimidated by you. Or just flat out jealous of you. (I know, I’m an evil person inside.)
I mean of course I will love you and all, possibly worship the ground you walk on, but… from afar. I have become pretty guarding of my time these days. If I’m with someone on purpose, it’s because I actually want to have fun.
In the old days, if you didn’t drink, I would not have been friends with you… because you were boring.
No. That’s not true. Well yes a little. Or that’s how I saw it at least. But mainly it was because it made me feel ashamed about my own drinking. I knew you would notice the rest of us (because there always was “the rest of us” getting smashed. And you wouldn’t see it as pretty as we did).
I had a group of friends here, and by group I mean formerly four people besides me, now one (we live in the countryside, groups are small).
We were originally united by Crazy Lady, who breezed in with Sane Husband from a northern country, bought the house next door for the ridiculously high price the local “gentleman farmer” (as he calls himself) was asking for it, and stayed for holidays only. She and I met first (me going over to say hi, her immediately inviting us for dinner). Then (or maybe minutes before, I don’t know) something similar happened with her neighbours, who had also been our neighbours. To be honest the neighbours and we had little in common, except that we loved food and we all loved to drink. We had tried on both sides to “become friends.” But we were all too protective of our inner crazy people to show that to each other until crazy lady arrived on the scene. Crazy Lady brought in a love of champagne, real champagne mind you — only the best for her — and excess in many other ways. And she brought her art.
She and I had a lot in common. She made art, as I made art — but she made it on a grand scale. She’s one wildly creative human being. I have one of her giant canvasses hanging in our house. We were both foreign. We were both educated. We had both travelled. We both loved to write. We both had boys. We both loved men.
The difference between us was that she followed every wild urge she had. I loved her for that in some ways. Her house was nearly always a complete mess — a mixture of old food, new food, dirty dishes, new dishes, open paint pots, and her laptop. Her chaos was the perfect antidote to my obsessive orderliness. I was a perfectionist, she was the anti-perfectionist. I was fearful to make a wrong brush stroke, obsessively working on the same tiny canvas for half my life, while she would create a giant masterpiece, promptly ruin it, give it away and start a new one.
She was always in a tangle and seemed to have few morals if any at all. This both shock-horror-ed me and was a like a breath of fresh air.
I had not been brought up in a religious environment but I’d somehow read enough turn-of-the-century books (oh along with the JW bible from cover to cover — my mom had always invited them in for coffee and debate, and I would sit and listen and/or join in with the fun) to have become a pretty straight and narrow individual.
My parents were wildly open-minded but themselves acted as fairly “upright” citizens. Regular jobs (both teachers), each a single partner from marriage till now (still going strong after 50 years), work-hard-play-soft kind of mentality. So I was following in their footsteps. They did drink, but for my mom it wasn’t much, and parties for her were more focussed around music. Making music, singing, dancing, that kind of thing. My dad on the other hand got smashed. Never at work, just on weekends. And he was our guru, spouting eastern philosophies at top volume.
Sometimes I think I learned to drink a) because I loved and admired him so, and b) to withstand the volume. During his travels in Australia he was said to have had the loudest voice in the southern hemisphere. (A story he still tells often.)
Everybody loved parties at our house, from the time we hit legal drinking age (again, very “upright”) and upwards. Everyone was welcome. It was like Bacchus’s garden in the middle of west-coast suburbia.
Anyhow, back to recent history: fast-forward to life in the French countryside. “Dream” achieved. We were renovating and living in an old stone farmhouse, raising our kids in a second language and culture, as planned. Renovating and business was our thing. He built, and he businessed; I designed and house-painted and marketed and interacted with clients. I had my rosé-coloured glasses firmly on, as I like to call them. There was drinking but not too much drinking. Just enough to keep everything all right, and everyone beautiful.
Then Crazy Lady arrived with her bottles of golden bubbly poison-I-mean-nectar and then things started to get REALLY interesting. Like Real Housewives interesting-nearly-verging-on-Desperate-Housewives interesting. Where she went — or rather came — art, intrigue, turbulence — and sometimes, devastating destruction followed.
The first one to leave the group got divorced from Crazy Lady after she cheated on him multiple times. (Well that’s how I saw it anyway. Of course she didn’t see it that way. She sees it in the way that he was controlling and mean — i.e. he was angry about the cheating. Both sides are likely true to some extent.) He’s happily remarried now and continuing on with his Successful Life. He’s still friends with Partying French Neighbours.
(There are those who “party” and those who don’t. I feel okay with calling them Partying French Neighbours since to them we always were and ever remain “The Canadians.” We soon learned that “we” were not individuals here. We were foreign nationals. Special as I thought I was, turns out I was Just Another Foreigner. I learned a lot from having to manage that status: humility being the main one, and the most valuable.
08:43 Wow this took a long time to write. And I have to go now. Breakfast with family (maybe on the terrace?) then out for lunch with Crazy Lady (if she sticks to the plan, that is). I’ll continue this another time. And please don’t worry at all. My rosé-coloured glasses are still firmly off.
And I’m loving my reality. Seriously loving it. In this moment, at least. And I’m learning little by little that the beauty of being consistently sober as that even when reality sucks, it doesn’t suck worse the next day, if we uphold our sobriety.
“Today I will not drink,” as Anna likes to say.
Today I will stay sober.
Vision and faith.
What the hell. Love also.
xo stll (sober tree-loving lady).