I'm back from Girls Only Week At The Beach, Featuring Sand, Surf, and Sangria... (6 "girls" (ages 44-52) in a beach house, a block from the ocean, 3 blocks from the boardwalk and town and the bars and the shops...)The agenda was to drink, party, and dance every night, sleep in until 11 a.m. every day, nurse hangovers on the beach with Breakfast Bloody Mary's, Sangria at lunch, wine at dinner, and then start all over again with Orange Crushes at the trans-gender Karyokye bar...I knew the agenda before I went. And I had informed our hostess, weeks earlier, that I was "sorta sober these dayssss..." in an email. Apparently, she chose not to "see" that part of my email, because her entire FACE fell on the floor (not just her jaw, like they do in the cartoons) when I turned down the Sangria for the first time. Sigh. So then we had to have that "moment" where you have to come up with a two-sentence explanation for why you quit drinking, and 5 people are staring at you, waiting, wondering, and you have to choose your words carefully, because you don't want to step on anyone else's BUZZ, just because alcohol was a problem for YOU, these people are here to DRINK, right? FUUUUUUUUDGE. Awkward. So I mumbled something to the effect that "Oooo.. you know, Big Mama was having a little issue with alcohol... it was... interfering with Big Mama's PARENTING SKILLZ..." I didn't actually talk about myself in Third Person, but that's how I think. But I did say it was interfering with my parenting... And that's all I said, and it was fine, they proceeded to have their party, and I stuck with the Sprite and the Ginger Ale. Most of the time it was fine. Most of the time I was able to just goof around, dancing some, talking some, laughing, people-watching... But there were times... Like when we hit the Big Noisy Bars, where people were shouting and shuffling up to your table and screaming and laughing and buying shots and everyone's your best friend and where're YOU from and WOOOOOO SMALL WO"RLD!!! and all the sloshy frothy fun... and there I sit with my Ginger Ale... My girls all bought fruity flavored shots, that came with a free flower lei with purchase, so they're all sitting there with orange and red flower leis strewn around their necks, and festive orange slices and cherries sticking out of their sparkling drinks... and there I sit with my Ginger Ale... It was physically painful. And I wasn't savvy enough to figure out, I coulda just asked for a damn LEI, or asked for an ORANGE SLICE for my puny little drink! I mean, seriously, that's what I was hung up on, the fun, festive part of the thing, the pretty part, I LIVE for pretty drinks and tables and stuff, I don't have to have the rum or the vodka, just the damn orange slice!!! Hey. I just learned something about myself. Wish I had figured that out BEFORE I went and sat at that table, feeling like a nerd. A poor little left-out nerd with no festive flower lei. I also learned that, holy shit, drunk people are stupid. My own sisinlaw, whom I LOVE, I wanted to wrap her in her own stupid purple hoody, like a straight-jacket, and SIT on her, so she would quit flitting around, squawking like a deranged parrot, saying stupid shit,almost getting hit by cars and stuff... It's like she took over MY job, being the little dumbass that everyone has to take care of, the one that gets carried home over someone's shoulder, shoes dropping in the street... It was a real wake up call for me, it was like seeing myself clearly. I'm not that anymore. Thank you God, I'm not that anymore. And then in the mornings, I would wake up at 7 a.m., and wander out into the kitchen... there they would sit, lined up on the counter like soldiers, the rum, the vodka, the red wine... I would look at the bottles for a while, and I would remember... I used to get up and be drinking some days by 8:30 a.m... and continue the buzz all day, just keep it going... I looked at those bottles and I thought about the beach a block away, and the sand and the ocean and the seashells... and I thought how I would sit by the water with a drink... and think... and relax... and then I would have to come back in half an hour and refill that drink... so that I could relax by that ocean... and then I'd drink that and it would be gone and I'd need another, walk back to the beach house, quietly, don't want anyone to know I'm drinking this early... get another drink, back to the ocean, RELAX, shit, I need another drink already.... I looked at those bottles and I looked over at all the girls, sleeping, sleeping in, sleeping off the booze from the night before, and I remembered the crappy little nagging headaches, and the dry-mouth, and the body aches, and the regrets, the playing back of every word I had said the night before, and feeling stupid, WHY did I say that, I'm so stupid, WHY do I do that?.. Why can't I just be MYSELF?! I looked at the bottles and I looked at myself. I took a personal inventory. Hey, I feel pretty good. I'm up early, my head is clear, I'm ready to go and do and see, no regrets from last night, I said what I wanted to say, I was MYSELF (or a slightly nervous, slightly uptight version of myself, but myself just the same...)I felt so good. I grabbed some turkey, for protein, and some swiss cheese, for.. fat? I love swiss cheese, a bottle of raspberry-flavored water, a towel, and headed for the beach. I had 3 hours to myself, just me and the waves and the sand. Every morning, while the girls slept off the night before, I had 3 hours on the beach, or strolling along the beautiful tree-lined streets, looking at all the incredible beach-houses, or shopping, or talking to my kids or my best friend on the cellphone, or just thinking, praying, listening to the waves... It was the best part of any vacation I've ever had. Because it was me. I was winning. I'm going to beat it. All of it. It can't have me anymore.