The night before my younger daughter’s breathtakingly scary heart surgery a few weeks ago, my husband brought four-packs of tiny bottles of white and red wine and a four-pack of white wine in cans to the hospital to get me through the long night. It was an immense amount of wine, even packaged in wee vessels, and I right away felt like an aging reprobate.
We only drank one small bottle apiece – my older daughter and me. We were the heart patient’s roommates for the night and seemed, oddly, to need more fortification than she did. She was reading the Bible in the dim late night light while we were puzzling over what would come next.
In the morning, after she went into surgery, I lugged the small bottles to the family intensive care surgical waiting room or whatever it was called. Jammed deep into my backpack underneath my sweatshirt, my stash felt heavy and unseemly. On the way to the bathroom, I read the Hospital’s Code of Conduct which I was currently breaking because of my alcohol consumption.
In the few weeks since the surgery, we have drunk wine out of regular bottles, ones with corks that require a corkscrew. We have had several bottles of Nouveau Beaujolais. There is a bottle of champagne in the rack, bought the day of the election. It lays on its side aching like me and everyone I know.
Events are too much for me. I don’t watch TV anymore. I don’t watch the news.
Tonight, my husband is watching a special documentary about Barack Obama and I stay in the kitchen to break out a third can of FlipFlop California Chardonnay. Here I am, a well-educated, middle class, nice older lady and I’m drinking white wine out of a can at the kitchen table because I can’t handle the reality that a retrospective on the President represents. We’re done with President Obama. Now we have to face what’s next.
I figure I will find myself. The dust of my daughter’s surgery, amazingly and incredibly successful, and the election, tragic beyond human belief, will settle. I will take walks again with my bad dogs and work in my messy office. The snow will fall and I will be glad to have a house, great jeans, and many sweaters. But right now, I feel like I deserve every indulgence, even wine in cans.
I need the protection of my little intoxication. I’ll get over it soon.
There aren’t that many cans left.