I think I’ve crossed a major milestone in this whole getting over cancer thing. Wine tastes fantastic again. And I want it. Often. Maybe not at the same frequency or quantity that I did this time a year ago, but way more than I did three months ago.
Actually, my love of the vino was the first thing to go. Energy was fine. Appetite was the same. I just didn’t want to drink. No beer. No liquor. No wine.
I’m sure this doesn’t sound terribly frightening to most people, but anyone who’s spent more than three consecutive hours with me would see the red flag a mile away. My family really, really enjoys the alcohol. Right now, my mom having just read these words, is storming around the kitchen in horrified embarrassment. Now the question is: is Pegger “the Kegger” dumping out the glass of wine she was already drinking as an act of protest, or is she uncorking her bottle of Concho Y Torro to fill a glass to soften the betrayal?
Oh I can’t wait to get home again! I remember when I’d call from Washington Heights to say we were piling in the car to head down for the weekend. Mom would squeal and say, “The bucket of margaritas is loaded with tequila and already chilling!” Screw apple pies and meatloaf. My momma knows the way to my heart.
Now Dad is a little more refrained than the rest of us boozers. I think that’s really just because of his ridiculously low tolerance. He’s just embarrassed. He waits until the rest of us whittle the two-liter bottle of wine down until it’s “just the right amount” to drink straight from the bottle. It only takes one serving of straight-from-the-bottle goodness until he’s laughing so hard he turns beat red and no sound comes out. Holy cow I miss them.
They’re coming to see me in just a few weeks. We’re going to celebrate Drewl’s big birthday. I call it his big birthday ’cause he’s going to be damn old. And we’re going to get him ridiculously drunk. Yay!
When Mom and Dad come to visit, I don’t even worry about stocking up on provisions anymore. If they’re driving, Mom cruises over to Costco or Sam’s or whatever buy-in-bulk mecca they’re frequenting these days, and piles the van full of boxes and boxes of Concho Y Torro. Often, they only bring the supplies in one box a night. The reasoning is two-fold. One, my apartment is ridiculously small and with a litter of Lonon’s about, I don’t have room for anything other than bodies, bedding, and baggage. Two, sometimes its just better if we run out of wine than have an endless supply. Total world annihilation has been avoided on several occasions by this foresight.
But enough painting my poor parental units as alcoholics. I think I’ve made the point of how very prominent the wine is in my life. I even considered becoming a professional alcoholic as a career at one point in time. I mean, let’s look at the benefits: low performance demands, travel optional, flexible hours, work from home, and meet new people. Really the list goes on and on.
About a month or two before being diagnosed, I just stopped drinking. I was in Europe at the time. Sure I had a beer or two in Amsterdam, wine with dinner in Frankfurt. Rocco always ended up finishing my glass (trust me, this was no hardship for him). When we got back home, I didn’t even have a glass of wine at my Authors and Alcoholics book club.
When I left my job for the “Summer of Leisure” I had envisioned, drinking at noon everyday had been a big part of the daydream. I had a whole book of pitcher drinks I was going to work my way through. I had not banked on this whole no-desire-to-drink thing I had going on.
During treatment there wasn’t much drinking either. You may or may not be surprised by this. I was surprised to learn they don’t actually frown on drinking during chemotherapy. Well, let me elaborate. They don’t want you in the chemo chair absorbing their chemical cocktail while you sip an umbrella adorned cocktail of your own making. I mean, I didn’t see a visible wet bar anywhere during my many hours at Sloan-Kettering. But my adorable oncologist actually encouraged me to drink a glass of wine every now and again, so long as it was at least 48 hours after nuking.
Believe me, I tried. What gal wouldn’t enjoy a little grape induced denial while going through all that fun? When you can hardly make it through chicken and stars, wine just doesn’t hit a sweet spot. Beer either. I didn’t think tequila was really the direction to turn. Poor Mom would light up anytime someone would come to visit – she was tired of drinking alone.
Even after it was all said and done and I had my remission papers, it still wasn’t quite the same. Granted, most things were still tasting a little off. But I did make it through a glass of champagne over lunch with Rocco when Dr. Adorable said I was Lymphoma-free.
Again, I tried and tried to get back off the wagon. Some days it would taste pretty ok – but then I’d have no idea how it would hit me. I just seemed to react to it differently. I was still on a mess of antibiotics and other fun meds, which surely weren’t helping my alcohol aspirations. But overall, it still just didn’t have the same charm it once did…kinda like Dakota Fanning.
But tonight I’m drinking a glass of wine all by myself…because it sounded really good. Granted, a year ago I would have drank the whole bottle for dinner and started some intense painting project. I’m actually thinking I may have poured this glass a little too full and Rocco will have to finish it once he gets home from the show (again no hardship, I promise). But I still think it’s a good sign.
I think it’s best we not spend too much time analyzing how my craving a glass of wine is actually a really, really healthy thing. Salut!