Where I grew up, a small town in countryside Sweden, a lot of businesses close down for all of July. In fact, this is often the case around the whole country as this is when people take their holiday. Unlike in the UK where you’re lucky if your boss agrees to let you take a couple of weeks in one go, Swedes book almost their whole holiday entitlement in one block. And of course in Scandinavia it’s trendy to look after your employees, so people tend to have six weeks per year to take off work. Nice, eh? Most people book all of July off and a lot of the country closes down – cinemas, hair dressers, factories and even airlines. Well, the smaller domestic ones anyway. So just like the 10-seater plane that takes people from the place I grew up to Stockholm and back, I’m heading into a few weeks of summer holidays free of musts and to-do lists. As much as the idea of blogging from our sea view balcony in Italy appeals to me, I’m going to enjoy the moments in the moment and remain blissfully offline. There’s always a bit of worry when a drunk goes off radar I suppose, my first thought when I haven’t heard from Ivy or Blue or Butterbean or any other sober friend is whether they’re OK or have fallen off the wagon. Well, you’ll be the first to know, but rest assured I’m heading off into the Mediterranean sunsets with these five-plus months of happy sobriety and no wish to wreck any of it. And that’s all I have really, a genuine intention to stay on this path.
When Facebook was first popular I spent huge amounts of time online. I’ve always been a blogger and just like I do now I used to write pretty much every day, albeit not about being an alcoholic. However, it was no accident that my old blog was called ‘A Storm in a Wine Glass’. In a way I wish I’d kept it but it’s all gone and deleted since many years back. Another blog I wrote on for some years was called ‘Morning Pages’ and like the previous it was just really my observations of life but with the title from the advice of an author – the idea was to write as soon as you get up and not give it any thought. I used to set a timer for 20 minutes and write whatever popped into my head. I still have the latter but haven’t posted anything in a long time as my attention has been focused here and on my quest to get sober. Anyway, when Facebook exploded and everyone got on to it, I did too. I never went as far as post pictures of my dinner but I spent an awful lot of time on there. It was also the time when my drinking was at its worst so it suited me to have a world that had shrunk to the kitchen table where I sat every evening in front of my laptop.
Since I met hubby, the world has expanded a little again, and since I quit drinking it’s become beautifully enormous, and whenever I do forget to take my phone with me it’s just a relief. I find myself unwilling to take photos, never mind posting them online straight away, in favour of just being in the moment and not ruin it by whipping out a goddamn phone every time something is lovely be it a sunrise or a meal. I want to get a camera, an actual camera, and take photos when on holiday, then look through them all only when we’re back and get them developed. Actual photos that you see when they’ve been developed and not before, put them into albums that you look through by turning pages and not swiping through on a screen. It’s funny, I find myself wanting to go back in time a little and move away from screens and apps. Last year I decided to get an old school mobile phone so managed to find a restored Nokia 8250 on ebay, the same phone I used to have around 2001. The plan worked until I discovered it really handicapped me. I’d just wanted to have a phone that you can make phone calls on and use to send text messages and get away from the distraction of Facebook etc, but it’d seem times have moved in a way that means that sort of phone is really awkward to use! My mother was in London and I found myself unable to help when I needed to find a number for a taxi firm. Couldn’t go online and I don’t even think the directory service exists anymore, the trusty old 192 you could ring to get a phone number you’d write down on a piece of paper. Somewhat miffed I declared defeat and put my SIM card back into my iPhone.
My friend E is definitely a Facebookaholic and the last time she was on holiday there was even a photo posted on her timeline from when she was on the toilet. Not a selfie, thank God, but a photo to illustrate some flaw in Cypriot lavatory design I believe. When we celebrated Midsummer at her place, her husband – clearly well drilled in social media etiquette and procedure – even announced “OK, wait, don’t touch the food until the photos are done“. And hey presto, E snapped away and our buffet lunch was shared on Facebook before we’d even taken our first bite. Nothing wrong with that, but I want a break from it all. I want to get to Lipari and enjoy a beautiful, magical holiday with hubby and just feel it’s us. I want to take precious holiday snaps but the evenings I want to spend taking in the view of the sea and not sit and flick through and post the whole day’s experiences online with both of us absorbed by our phones. Isn’t it funny how it almost seems like a little challenge to not look at our holiday photos until we are back? Something you’d never have done, say, 20 year ago?
Yes! I want to have REAL albums again. Get photos developed and be all excited to see how they turned out, bring them back from the photo store and sit down together on the sofa and look through them whilst avoiding getting finger prints all over them. Now I just need to convince hubby this is a good idea. He always has his phone on him, even to the loo, but because of his work he can’t really leave his phone at home when we go out like I can. However, I think he’s much like me – if the damn phone is there you end up messing around on it – and I doubt he’d panic at the idea of going offline. So long as my son can get hold of me I don’t need to ever be available and I’m going to draw full advantage of that fact now.
Sobriety is definitely playing a big part in wanting to embrace living – I’m finally present in my own life and it seems a waste to live it in any other way or place than in the moment so that’s what I’m going to do. Perhaps I’ll find the occasional moment to post something here if something bubbles up in me that I just have to share, but who knows. All I wanted to do for now is wish you all a wonderful summer as I don’t know if I’ll be back here again until half way through August. I’m so looking forward to my summer holidays without drinking, I can’t tell you how excited I am to go into all of this knowing I’ll not miss a thing and not waste any days because of hangovers. Being sober is fucking exciting!
Just like Sweden, this Swede is closing up shop for the holidays.
Today I’m not going to drink and here’s to an amazing, sober summer!