I don’t care for beer…
Until I was 30 or so, I’d only had it a handful of times.
And every time, I didn’t understand why people seem to enjoy it.
Well, something rather odd happened in 2011…
I was living in Oregon, in a household with two grown women, two teenage girls, two female cats, and two lady dogs.
There was a little boy there too.
But for the most part, I was engulfed in a world of women.
Most of my best friends out there were women too.
Now, I have never particularly identified with men.
Steak, beer, hunting, cars, sports, whatever other stereotypes you prefer.
Just not my stuff, by default.
And I’ve generally felt more comfortable with women than men.
Holding back tears isn’t something I do. I’m an emotional being.
All humans are…
But we’ve got this socialization thing going on.
A lot of men are afraid to let their emotions out, or to even be aware of their own emotions. It’s a sad thing. I think it’s changing. I hope so.
Anyway, since I never really identified much with masculinity, I found myself surprised this one time out in Oregon.
Something in me snapped.
I needed manly things. All the manly things.
My girlfriend and I had spent an evening with my friend. A female.
My friend’s daughter and mom were there, but her boyfriend and father weren’t.
I don’t know how to explain what happened in my head.
I told my girlfriend on the way home:
“Look. I need to get some steak and beer. And rent an action movie with lots of explosions.”
That probably surprised and amused her. I know it surprised and amused me.
That was the first night I ever went out and purchased beer.
The handful of times before, it had just been beer other people offered me.
But I kept drinking beer after that.
Sometimes, I almost liked it.
That was a pretty weird reason to start drinking.
It was unexpected, to pick up a beer habit at age 30. After so long of being totally indifferent towards the stuff.
After a while, beer became just another coping mechanism.
Coping with stress. Coping with emotions. Whatever else.
It’s a relatively cost-effective coping mechanism. For just a few dollars, I’m good to go on three tall cans of Steel Reserve. 8% alcohol or something.
So, the low cost and effectiveness as a short-term coping mechanism are probably parts of why I still drink beer.
But lately, I’ve realized…
There may be another factor.
A factor pertaining to it being difficult for me to let go of the past.
See, things went quite badly in Oregon.
I mentioned those two teenage girls. The small boy.
Well, they were the closest I’ve ever had to daughters and a son.
Two of them called me Dad.
Once, I promised them I’d always be there.
The words came out of my mouth, and into their ears.
“I promise I will always be here.”
But that’s not what happened…
One of the most dazzlingly meaningful eras of my life ended in complete and utter failure.
I may as well have come back home to Michigan in a body bag.
For the better part of a year, I had dreams I was back in Oregon.
But I was invisible. No one could see or hear me.
And I’d yell out to the children, “I am here! I still love you!”
And they couldn’t hear a thing.
I was gone. I was nothing.
How do you think I got through that?
Lots and lots of cheap ass beer.
I’d get drunk and make music that echoed with my soul’s burning bloodflow.
In some fucked up way, beer kept me connected to Oregon.
I haven’t had those nightmares in years, and I usually feel healed from all that.
But I keep drinking beer. All this time, wondering why I consume something I don’t even like.
A means to an end?
Sure. But there are other ways to do that.
Ways than are more healthy, and more fun.
Am I punishing myself, maybe? For breaking my promises? For losing what meant everything to me?
I don’t know.
These are just theories and speculations.
But there might be something to it.
There might be a breakthrough buried in this haystack someplace…
Maybe a way to maneuver through the limitations and find empowerment.
And stop wasting money on beer…
Do some yoga instead.
Focus on the breath.
Make a smoothie.
Write a novel.
Take an Epsom salt bath.
Sing and dance.
Put my feelings on a canvas.
Let the past go.
Be here, be now.
Make a billion dollars, and walk around giving random people hundred dollars bills.
Then they can buy expensive beer, instead of the cheap crap.
Or they can buy whatever they want.
I don’t care.
I am just ready for something new.
Also published on Medium.