A while ago I read a book in which one character tries to soothe another character by bringing her a glass of rosé. She says something kind of rueful-yet-encouraging — “Boy, you look like you could use this” — and the second woman accepts it gratefully and takes a bolstering sip, armed with a tiny bit of comfort in the midst of her personal crisis.

It’s been a good long while since I’ve been tempted by alcohol. I had my last drink in 2013, and for eight years prior to that, I’d been the occasional, ultra-secretive type of drinker — someone perhaps more likely to be triggered by the mention of a clandestine gulp straight from the vodka bottle than a socially acceptable glass of wine consumed right in front of another person.

Still, there was something about that little scene, an innocuous moment in an otherwise not-terribly-memorable memoir, that snagged me like a fishhook. I kept coming back to that moment. The drink. It’s true there is something evocative about the word rosé, rather than wine. You picture it chilled, the little beads of condensation on the glass. But it wasn’t the drink itself, not exactly. It was the exchange. “Here,” says a person who cares about another person. Because that second person was the type of person who could drink a single glass of wine.

This is the part that pulled at my insides. It is no longer sad to me that I can’t have the drink (or the mood-altering fill-in-the-blank). I think of myself as having a severe allergy: when I expose myself to certain substances, I cannot control the reaction, no matter what. This is how things are. One is too many and a thousand is never enough.

What I cannot help is the aching wish that I would have turned out differently. That some other combination of brain chemistry and lifestyle and self-esteem and coping mechanisms had taken place, and I would have side-stepped this towering shit-pile of addiction-fueled shame and regret I have to wake up and look at every single day.

Imagine having such a normal relationship with alcohol that someone hands you a drink. And you drink it, maybe you even leave an inch or so because you only wanted that little bit, and you go on with your day, and the drink doesn’t open a howling void in your center, chanting more, more, more.

It is dangerous, in recovery, to long for the substance. If peanuts put me into anaphylactic shock, I’m pretty sure it would not be considered a healthy fantasy to imagine plunging a spoon into a jar of Skippy. But wishing, now and again, that the nut allergy had passed me by altogether? I don’t know. Acceptance and sorrow aren’t that far apart. A thing is acknowledged, a thing is mourned, an alternate and vastly preferable thing is also mourned because it will never be true.

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Here, for no particular reason, is a video of an ant hill we discovered while poking around in the woods, which is further evidence in the mounting case against this whole “outdoors” business:

Found this back when we stayed in Bly. 🐜😱

A post shared by Linda Sharps (@sundry) on

Giant nightmare-tower of teeming insect horrors aside, I have been having an extremely awesome summer, even though I had to spend several days pooping on a bucket during a rafting trip on the Rogue River. Said bucket is actually referred to as “the groover” (here is the apparent explanation behind the name) and the worst thing about the groover is that you’re not supposed to pee in it. Like, doing so is a serious camping party foul, because it has to be carried for the whole trip and presumably no one wants it sloshing around. Which is all fine and dandy for dudes who can whizz wherever without even looking like they’re doing anything but fiddling with their waistbands while admiring the view, but we women have to constantly scuttle off and find somewhere vaguely private to hunker and try not to pee on our foot or drop our ass in a blackberry vine, which is maddening when there’s a toilet of sorts that’s totally available but only for one function. Plus of course there’s the issue of sitting down on the damn groover to carry out a Number Two and guess what, some Number One is absolutely going to happen, I’m not some sort of Kegel magician.

The upside of accidentally-but-not-really peeing in the groover is that despite the overly intimate nature of being faced with your rafting party’s output — because you can’t not look, you know? Once you flip that lid up you’re basically committed to looking, and by day two you’re like, ah, I see the Bear-Splat Pooper has been here, and Small Nuggets, and Soft Pretzel, and then you go back to camp and helplessly indulge yourself in the world’s most disgusting guessing game — no one can definitively be blamed for the urine-related rule-breaking, unless of course they confess it on their blog, which, to be clear, I am absolutely not doing right now.

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