The three of us lived together for several years, we were bridesmaids to each other and have kept in touch to a greater or lesser degree since.
We met for lunch and an afternoon of chat in Karen's old house in the country alongwith our 3 husbands and 7 children.
I had not yet told her I no longer drank, there had never been opportunity without making it sound like a huge deal.
I had told my other friend but I reckon she had forgotten (or never truly believed me in the first place).
As soon as we arrived we were asked who the designated drivers were, the assumption being it would be the boys so we girls could share first the Pimms and lemonade, then the wine with lunch and beyond.
OH had driven us and when asked what I'd have, I said a cup of tea. Not wanting to make any grand statements of sobriety in front of the large group I added by way of explanation that I'd been working yesterday and was again starting early tomorrow.
There was surprise, disbelief and exaggerated shock all round. My friends persuaded each other to have a Pimms and the other husbands had a beer each.
At lunchtime the wine was offered again and there were no takers. None at all. So the wine was not opened. The Pimms and beers were finished and everyone drank water at the table.
A delicious lunch was rounded off with tea and cake before we retired to the lounge to relax.
I was pleasantly full, sated and content but I thought how differently I would have felt 2 years ago in these circumstances.
Excellent, OH driving while we go to see my friends. Take a couple of bottles of wine with us.
Arrive and meet two very good friends with whom I can be myself and make myself at home.
Pimms? Well I suppose so if that's what's offered but it's fairly weak and never packs much of a punch for me.
Wine with lunch? Yes please. I'd take charge: opening 2 bottles to get started ( well there are 6 adults) and pouring nice full glasses.
I'd have a sneaky look in the fridge to check there were other bottles chilling, usually adding the bottles I'd brought.
I would have been really disappointed to see that the other drinkers were doing so to such little extent, a token glass of wine almost.
I'd be frustrated trying to slow down the rate at which I emptied my wine glass.
I'd be topping up glasses barely touched in order to refill my own to the brim again.
I'd shrug off any comments: they know this is what I'm like and I wouldn't feel conspicuous for long.
I would however refrain from opening another bottle if it were only me drinking it. That would look too obvious as would its rapidly declining level.
I would not have wanted tea or the delicious cake as by then the wine monster would have been truly unleashed and on the rampage.
My rampage would include eating more including leftovers after our meal, talking too loudly, talking too much, being over excited and generally hyper.
And then woommfff.
We would leave the table and the wine behind. The drinking done but leaving me still wanting. Like a coiled spring released from a box, I could not go back in easily. I was out and staying out and wanted to keep going.
In the absence of continued drinking I'd become sleepy and a bit disinterested, perhaps irritable with the kids and would have fallen asleep in the car on the way home, pleased it was still ony 8 pm, leaving plenty of time to pick up the glass again from where I'd left off.
Writing this down I'm aware of the number of ups, downs, thoughts, plans, feelings both good and bad that filled the day of the drinking me.
The 'Now' in comparison was calm, stable, conventional, rational, expected and very very enjoyable. I would have enjoyed it much less had I been preoccupied with the amount I could or could not drink, which is a lovely conclusion with which to end a lovely day.