The New York Times has this blog on drinking. It tends to make me cry. I like that it provides a variety of perspectives. This week’s entry is about the camaraderie of young teachers in Brooklyn going out for drinks after work. That reminds me of my dear friends and the many many happy hours that got us through the infinite frustrations of the innercity bureaucracy, the endless needs of the public, the hours of customer service to the broadest range of humans. And the times we failed, just didn’t get it right. I have never felt the “need” of a drink more than in Leadership training around ten in the morning. And that was why I left.
but I miss it still.
There were so many forces at work in happy hour. Support, escape, discussion, liquid xanax, team building, love and true friendship. But for some of us, after a while, it became clear that happy hour was not optional. We needed it. We needed our friends to need it, or we would find new friends that did.
There were more than a few hungover storyhours across the borough. I once had to call an employee and wake her up to tell her she was supposed to be at a high school representing the library an hour ago. She was lucky, I think now, that we noticed and sat her down and talked with her, instead of ignoring it. No one sat me down and talked to me…
Part of me wants nothing more than to go back. I miss my friends and the reliability of our terrible dive of a neighborhood bar under the BQE where my dog was allowed the run of the place. Months after I stopped going, I saw the bartender in the neighborhood and he asked me where I’d been, which is no small thing in the big city.
It’s a loss. It’s a loss. Once you feel something you can’t unfeel it, and once I noticed how happy hour was holding me back from happiness, I couldn’t enjoy it. But it was such a valuable shining release for me for those years, that I can’t quite let go. If I was just a slightly different person, I think, I could go back and be happy.
Will anything better than those evenings’ warmth and profound sense of belonging and friendship and understanding present itself in my new life?