July 24, 2024

34 years clean and sober

Unlike years past, I/we didn’t do any major celebrating on my sobriety birthday, Nov, 3. In fact, we forgot about it. I spent the day doing honey-dos: cleaning out the gutters, rounding up all the old “punkins” and throwing them out, and mouse-proofing the garage and barn. It was Frrrryyyyday at the Veterans Hall in Mt. Pleasant, and Ginnie and I went there for supper since they have fish, chicken and shrimp. I turned in an application for membership to the American Legion. I figured it was high time.

On the way to the Veterans Hall, we drove by the movie theater in Mt. Pleasant, and Ginnie noticed on the marquee that Taylor Swift’s “Eras” was playing. “I’d like to see that,” she said.

I asked what an “Eras” was, pronouncing it, “E-Ras.”

“Era,” Ginnie said. “It’s Taylor Swift’s tour, doing all the songs of her career.”

“Oh,” I said. “I don’t usually see ‘era’ as plural. It’s usually just ‘era.’”

Ginnie gave one of her patent sighs. “Curt, the English major.”

The only thing I knew about Taylor Swift is that she’s been showing up at Kansas City Chief’s football games because she and Travis Kelce are an item. But I got to thinking about “E-Ras” while eating shrimp. “What the heck?” I thought. “It’s Friday night Date Night. We could work in a movie after supper, if I don’t eat too much. If Ginnie wants to see Taylor Swift, I can accommodate.”

That was before I found out the tickets were $18 each and the show lasted three hours. But I managed to suffer through, and rather enjoyed the performance, which was quite spectacular, I had to admit. The stage turning into a snake was something else. I could hardly understand a word Taylor Swift was singing, but the dancing and theatrics were over the top. I don’t know how anyone’s voice can hold up for three solid hours of singing. I noticed Ginnie was singing along to Taylor Swift’s songs, as were the scrum of teeny-bopper girls sitting in front of us, along with their parent chaperons. Ginnie was obviously enjoying herself, which made it worthwhile.

What I’m trying to say is that after 34 years of sobriety, it’s not all about me. I can actually put other people first. So, in a way, WE were celebrating my 34-year anniversary of being clean and sober. Love is in the giving.

Looking back on the journey of sobriety, alcohol may have been doing me a favor, in a way. There were some pretty tough times I was going through, and alcohol was a diversion that deadened my mind to what was going on. When it just about killed me, well, that was a wake-up call. A treatment program helped me face my issues and rearrange my priorities. I’m one of the lucky ones. I lived through it and came out the other side clean, sober and wiser.

I’ve been going through some health issues lately, which is not surprising given my age—75. I’m not sure where the future is headed, which is a good thing, for it keeps me focused on where my trust should be. God. There’s a Big Guy running things, and I’m not Him.

I don’t think much about drinking or using anymore. And the “drinking/using dreams” have subsided over the years. However, Ginnie and I were at a restaurant the other night and I noticed “Swarm Ale” on the menu. Really? Talk about a drink with my name on it! Ginnie got me home safely.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation, (Iowa Patriotic Stitchers of Henry County), presented me with a Quilt of Valor that I really didn’t deserve, but was honored to accept. Sobriety has rewards that far exceed not using and abusing.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com