Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feeling "Normal"

One of the difficult things about having moved half way across the country and entirely changed our life is that, well, we have entirely changed our life.

      I spent many, many (25 many) years in the hospitality industry.  From clerking at a hotel to managing at a hotel front office, from waiting tables, bartending and every other front of the house job in restaurants and nightclubs to managing restaurants and nightclubs, all the way to being a barista in an indie coffee shop and planning and executing functions and events, I have done it.  I loved that business.  It is crazy, hectic, run your a$$ off for your money and hugely profitable if you take pride in your job and do your best to service your customers.  Because it is also very, very physical it is one area of my life that I have allowed my diagnosis to "steal" from me.  I just can't do it any more.  I am aware of that, and I am at peace with that.  It doesn't make me miss it any less.  It was just fun.  Thinking back, I can't think of any restaurant, hotel or coffee bar that I worked in that I didn't make great friends and have a good time while I worked. 

     One of the other great aspects of that industry is the social aspect.   More than hotels or coffee shops, restaurants and nightclub staffs are like big, incestuous familys.  The staff works together, plays together, dates one another, marries one another etc.  You get out of work after a long and stressful shift, you gather around the bar and sit and gripe about work, about customers, about tips.  You dissect the shift, the staff,  and the upcoming events.  You share war stories and funny stories, you get to know one another and air your differences all before heading your seperate ways. 

     When we moved out this way, we completely cut ourselves off from all of that.  In addition to having left everything and everyone familiar, we added Methotrexate to my treatment regimine which means that (by choice- my liver is more important than a social life) I have almost completely removed alcohol from my life.  Where before I would have an ammaretto or a beer after work a couple of times a week and we would get together with friends for dinner and drinks on a night off- I now limit myself to 3-4 drinks per year.  That is all.  My very supportive other half has no problem with this change and though I have no issue with him having a couple of beers when we go out for dinner, he goes bowling or we go out for a night, it is very, very rare for us to go out to a bar and see a band or hear a DJ any longer.  It is just not the same.   Because we haven't cultivated the close friends that we have had, we just don't "go out" any more. 

      One of my dearest friends is in town to visit for a week.  Last night, we went out for dinner (Famous Dave's- KILLER BBQ) and then to Howl at the Moon in Louisville.  Having our dear friend with us made a huge difference.   I played designated driver for the two of them- which was absolutely no problem for me or for them.  The difference is that there is something a lot less socially acceptable about being a designated driver in a party of two- I mean, how does that sound?  The other part of that is that when it is just the two of us, it is more glaring (to me at least) and makes me more self concious that I am sitting in a nightclub or bar with a coffee or a soda.  In my brain it puts more emphasis on the changes to both of our lives that Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and my host of medications have wrought- even though before I often had a coffee or a soda when we went out anyway- but then it was a CHOICE.  With the three of us being together my honey was able to relax and have a few beers and not feel like he was "drinking alone" and I was able to cut loose and not feel like the "sick chick" while we were out.    If you don't have an "Howl" in your area- it is a deuling piano bar.  Besides having pianists on stage- a big part of the evening is audience participation. We had a ball.  The three of us laughed (well), sang (not so well) and generally cut loose.  We talked, we caught up and we really relaxed.  We got home about 10:30 and stayed up and laughed even more.

                                          Karyn                       Jim                       Moi

While I am SO very grateful that I have my dear friend for a week  I also realized something last night.  I realized that we need to break out of our nest and get out there and meet some people from this area.  We need to stop holding ourselves back and open up to new people.  I, personally, need to get over myself and my trepidation and let go.  We also need to realign our thinking and get it through our heads that "going out" doesn't have to mean starting the evening between 8 and 9pm to have as much fun as we had last night.  That is a huge shift- and it was a great lesson to learn. 

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