My Alcohol-Free High School Reunion was Not Torture

On Saturday morning I woke at the buttcrack of dawn to walk my dog and squeeze in a Peloton spin class (burn, calories, burn!) before driving to suburban Philly for my 20th high school reunion.

I have vowed to take a 60-day booze break. Saturday was Day 55. I may not have done a lot of math since high school, but I was able to discern that this would be an alcohol-free reunion for me. My first ever alcohol-free reunion, in fact. Yikes. But ok. I can do this.

So I did. And it didn’t suck! At all!

How did it not suck being sober at my high school reunion? Let me count the ways:

WILLPOWER

I made the decision before going that I was not going to break my 60-day commitment. I also had one of my non-negotiables to guide and support me: “I will not drink when I have to drive, or if I am traveling alone.” So I had a full tank of willpower that I could put towards other decisions, keeping me on track (almost) the entire day. No booze or junk food boost-and-crash roller coaster for me!

ENERGY

It was a long day, from the driving to touring around the school and a picnic lunch, to the class party that night. Lots of schmoozing. I needed all the energy I could muster and I knew if I drank my energy level would plummet. Instead I felt a constant stream of energy the entire day. And that was much more refreshing and long-lasting than a drink would have been.

AUTHENTICITY

I am so happy to have reconnected with old friends and former teachers with an authenticity that is inherent in not having a fuzzy, boozy brain. I felt confident. I felt sure of myself. I felt 100% present. I felt content to be there just as I am. And that is incredible to me.

I was able to tell my French teacher that he was the greatest teacher I have ever had and when he bashfully rejected the compliment, I said, “I used to be bad at taking compliments too but I’m trying to get better at it. Here’s all you have to do. Say ‘Thank you.’ Now let’s try this again.” We did, we laughed, he said “Thank you,” and it felt amazing to have put that goodness out into the world and into his heart.

FIERCENESS

Apologies if this sounds a little vain, but my skin and body looked GOOD. I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT. But I’m not going to let myself delete it, because this is important. It has taken a long time and a LOT of work to get myself here: I am happy in my life and proud of how I look.

On Saturday night I fit into a dress that I haven’t worn since my mini-moon, right after my wedding in 2009. I’ve held onto it all this time for sentimental reasons. I thought I would pass it on to my daughter. I never thought I would be able to wear it again and I think it fits me better now than it did 8.5 years ago.

My high school friends knew me as a fairly athletic but never thin girl with a cute face that was unfortunately riddled with acne. I am thrilled that I was able to show up feeling fit and pretty. What I look like on the outside, I think, also reflects how I have evolved on the inside. I did not need alcohol to give me superficial jolt of dopamine masquerading as confidence, as I have in the past. How freeing that was!

FUN

Y’all, I just had a great time. And being fully present only made it better. Snooping around the school and reliving the laughs and drama of our high school days. Marveling at how technology has evolved. Appreciating what a great education I received and reflecting on how my years there shaped my life. Catching up with everyone I could, from acquaintances to very dear friends.

And I was there. I was 100% there.

My only misstep in what was otherwise a wonderful day was eating a brownie with ice cream at 10pm, after the class party. I couldn’t fall asleep until 2am because of the sugar! Oops. But I’m trying to be kind to myself and see this as a lesson learned. I’m still adjusting to how much more sensitive my body has become to sugar since I’ve been alcohol-free. And I’ll take fatigue over a raging hangover any day!

Alcohol-free high school reunion achievement unlocked. Next stop: Day 60!

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