Why Do I Feel This Party’s Over?

I’ve been drinking too much wine again lately. It’s one of those things that just gradually ramps up. Over the holidays I indulged in both food and drink — including beer, which I love but is verboten if I want a flat tummy, which I do — but I’m ostensibly back on my training program, to get the body fat down just a little more. Only I haven’t quite ramped down the wine consumption.

It’s all a tolerance thing. If I don’t drink anything for a couple of weeks, then one glass of wine is enough. It’ll be delicious and satisfying, and perhaps even give me a little warm buzz. Maybe it’s the dark January evenings, but I haven’t done a ruthless, no alcohol diet yet this year. Instead I’m sipping red wine all evening long. It doesn’t help that Barefoot came out with the biggie bottle of red zin — it’s the wine version of hot chocolate. A pretty glass, a sparkling fire and that spicey bloody wine makes the winter evenings worthwhile.

And though I rarely get drunk, and haven’t made myself sick from booze in probably ten years (though we were all dragging rear Christmas morning this year from some really excellent champagne), I am so compelled by Pink’s Sober video.

I’ve been into Pink’s angry white chick music since her I’m Not Dead Yet album. Before that I’d written her off as a frothy hip-hopper, confused in my mind with Lil Kim and her ilk. I’ve since picked up her earlier stuff, too, and while there is some hip-hoppy stuff (apparently she was pushed that way by her early producers), a lot of it is raw and real and moving to me.

While I, even in my most dedicated Gamma Phi Beta college days, was never the party girl Pink depicts in her video, there’s a part of her I know. Perhaps it’s that ever-present fear that you could slip that far. Fall over the edge into an oblivion where you no longer recognize yourself. Pink’s plaintive cry “why do I feel this party’s over?” echoes the somber realization of the over-40 woman. I’m having to realize that the days of perfect resilience are over. I no longer blithely burn everything I eat and drink.

A friend of mine is an adrenaline junkie. He’s made a career of it. A fabulous career of doing amazing things like climbing unclimable mountains and kayaking through ice floes and writing about it all. Just after New Year’s he went ice climbing with a friend. An avalanche roared over them and the friend died. I saw my friend yesterday and I almost didn’t recognize him, he looked so unaccountably aged. Perhaps it’s the grief dragging him down and he’ll recover. But I wonder what the over-50 adventure athlete does when the activities he’s defined himself with are too much for him to recover from. Not all of them face this moment — many get themselves killed before that. I suppose the one who survives redefines himself. Fortunately my friend is a great writer and a man of many talents.

It’s easy to feel like the party’s over when you hit the realization that second two-thirds of your life aren’t going to be quite as on fire as the first third. Or second half vs. first half. But maybe it’s just that it’s a different party. A party in which I can be satisfied with a single glass of wine.

Maybe two.

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