Sober Travels in Wine Country
My husband and I met as teenagers and have spent the last three decades dreaming of the day we could travel the world together. It was always a “someday” vision – raising kids and running our business has kept us on a relatively short leash. Now our dreams are in sight, and I realize I’ve changed the game by throwing in the wrinkle of sobriety.
We will both soon be celebrating our 50th birthdays – his is this spring and mine follows in summer 2017. We’ve heard many people say that it’s a mistake to wait too long to start travelling – it’s hard to change the work habits of a life time – so we’ve agreed to use these upcoming milestones as incentive to shift into a “next stage” mentality. After thirty years of working shoulder-to-shoulder, it is now time to actually live out those “someday” dreams.
We asked, “Where do I want to be on my 50th birthday?” The first answer for both of us is “at home, surrounded by our kids and grandkids” (assuming there will be more by then!). True, true but it was time to think BIG, so we turned our attention to those dreams that have been dangling beyond our reach for so long we’ve almost forgotten they are real places.
“I want to ski the Matterhorn on my 50th birthday,” said my husband smiling.
“I want to hike the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu on mine,” I answered with the twinkling eyes of a child on Santa’s knee.
We started planning, but I could see something was bothering my husband as we mapped a route from Zurmatt, Switzerland south to Cinque-Terrre, Italy. Finally he confessed his concerns about touring a region famous for food and wine with me. Would I be able to enjoy myself there? Would I expect him to also say no to wine with dinner? Would I resent him if he sampled the local treats that are off-limits for me?
Fair questions, I wasn’t offended. Given the pitiful misery of a travel companion I was in Cuba last year (recounted here), his concerns were justified. I’d vowed never to go against my gut again, and here my gut was telling me that Switzerland and Italy will offer many pleasant distractions. We had to talk it out and plan how we will make it work.
It is give and take. If we are sitting at an outdoor café enjoying the evening air, I can savour a cappuccino while he has a glass of local wine. If he wants a second glass and I don’t wish to stay, he may well have it alone while I wander or retire for the evening. That’s our equilibrium, and it is different for everyone depending on individual needs and the dynamics of the relationship.
My husband has a neck and shoulder problem. We haven’t even addressed yet how he will manage his backpack. It just is what it is and we will have to figure it out and prepare accordingly. Travelling as a person in recovery must be looked at with the same mentality: my sobriety is a simple reality to be considered. Plan ahead, be prepared, and look out for each other.
Here we are, finally embarking on an adventure we’ve worked for our whole lives and dealing with the reality of my recovery. Nobody dreams of being an alcoholic when they grow up. Still, I won’t tell myself I am spoiling our travels by being sober – that is ridiculous. If I wasn’t sober, I would spend the entire trip obsessing about when and how to drink, surrounded by abundance but trying to hide a desperate wish to hide in my room alone with a bottle. That would be worse, no?
And besides, I have to stay in shape for hiking the mountains of Peru.