I haven't been drunk in more than a year. I'm pretty sure I haven't even had more than one or two drinks since The Fall began. Being constantly threatened by the zombie swarms and violent men tends to put you off the urge to dull your senses with alcohol.
Last night, a bunch of us got together at my house and had ourselves a little party. Honestly, my core group of friends and I needed the break. We've been running full tilt for so long that the time had come for a night off. Becky and Jess were there, of course, and Patrick. Little David, who seems to be dealing with Darlene's death better these days, came over and smiled for the first time in weeks, at least that I've seen. Dodger and Jamie came as well. Elizabeth, who I haven't seen in months, brought Al (remember her? Allison, haven't seen her in a long time, either) and another woman, whose name I don't remember.
We had a blast.
It was such a good time, actually, that I'm writing this blog surrounded by the sleeping (possibly passed out) forms of my friends. Jess woke up about an hour ago with a killer hangover, and given the sheer volume of rum and whiskey my friends and I consumed, I imagine the rest of them will follow suit before too long.
I, on the other hand, never suffer from hangovers. I don't know why, it's just the way I am. Oh, I'll get sick if I drink too much too fast, but no matter how bad it is, I never feel it in the morning. Chalk it up to being Irish and German. I've always joked that my heritage means I will get drunk and take over Europe.
I'll admit, though, that even though I feel fine this morning, last night I was pretty hammered. It was really strange to have my mind altered with strong drink after such a long time of having to be hyper-vigilant and watchful, always having to be ready to react swiftly and clearly. Even though we cleared our night of fun with the council and made sure there were people to cover us if there was an emergency, I still feel a little bit guilty that we got to cut loose.
I shouldn't, I know. Despite the need to constantly patrol the walls in case a major swarm of zombies hits us, most of the people in the compound (with the exception of the last several weeks) have time to socialize and have a good time. Granted, most people around here don't go to the lengths that we did last night (Patrick doesn't drink, so he was bartender--he says the rest of us went through half a gallon of rum in three hours. Wow.) but they still historically have had a lot of free time to do as they wished.
The core group of people, my family and friends, who have all been here since close to the beginning of the compound (and the end of the world) haven't been so lucky. I'm certainly not complaining (much) about my duties, because fulfilling them aids the compound in continuing to be what I always hoped and planned for it to become--a safe haven. If that means that a small group of us have to put in more hours than others, so be it. If that means that we choose to take on more and broader responsibilities, that's no fault of anyone's but our own. I'm just saying that it's been a long time coming for us. None of us realized how badly we needed a carefree evening until we got it.
I saw flashes of the old Becky last night. She smiled and laughed at times in a way that made me forget how far she's come and how much she's suffered since then. The darker edge to her was still there, but it almost seemed like getting drunk was just the excuse she needed to be someone younger than her years, someone more innocent and fun. Someone I remember well.
It was in the wee hours of the morning, and I had my laptop out, music playing. Jess was dancing slowly with Little David, who seemed happy--as he should have, since Jess is very tall, very large in the chest, and David is relatively short. His head was at just the right height to rest in my wife's cleavage. My own head rests there often enough, so I know how peaceful and great it is.
I was dancing with Becky, though about three quarters of my job was holding her up at that point. She was almost boneless against me, relaxing against my frame as we slowly rotated. It almost brought a tear to my eye, knowing that despite all she's been through, Becky still trusts me enough to relax that much with me. I want so much to help her become comfortable here, to feel like the compound is truly the home, the safe place, she wants it so badly to be.
It'll take time. Being on the run and in constant fear is like clenching your fist as hard as you can. Becky did that for more than a year, and it's going to take some time for her to get past that painful moment of terrified agony as she relaxes. Being scared and tense is like anything else--it has its own momentum. True strength isn't dealing with the fear; it's being able to face the pain of letting go and trusting that the change back to normality will be worth it.
She, Jess, and I all crashed on the bed last night (California King. We could have fit a few more comfortably) in a puppy pile of arms and legs. It was pretty chilly by the time we made it there, and after a fun evening of revelry and drinking games (most of which I won), it felt perfect to snuggle up together, sharing warmth. The heat of our bodies kept us physically comfortable.
The nearness of loved ones did far more for our minds, hearts, and spirits.