The thing about grief is that it keeps you guessing. You expect certain things to trigger it: birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, the day they died. These days you can brace for, can do your best to prepare for.
And then there are the little things that come out of left field. These things can't be prepared for. They just happen, without warning and often without consistency. Some days I can ago through the pop aisle in the store without any problems; other days I have to avoid it like the plague, for example. Today, I had a moment in which I solved one of the mysteries of my life. I wanted to call James and tell him-I was too excited to wait until I got home. And then I remembered there is no James to call. I finally felt validation after years and the one person who really believed me wasn't there to share it with. Sharing it with anyone else just wouldn't be the same. A year ago, I probably would have burst into tears right there in the middle of Wal-Mart. Today, it just made me sad and frustrated.
I am allergic to alcohol. I have known this since I was in college. That is all I have ever known. If I drink, I get chest pains and have a hard time breathing. If I am around wine long enough, the smell of it is enough to give me a headache. People hear this and some tell me that sucks. I don't think so. Others look at me like I just flew in from another planet. This is major microbrew and wine country after all. In all honesty, not being able to drink probably saved my life after James died. I know if I was able to, I would have buried myself in the bottle. I am the daughter, the granddaughter (according to my mother anyway) and the niece of alcoholics. My family doesn't understand why I can't drink with them. I get the impression they don't believe me when I tell them I am allergic. As a result, I feel like an outsider when we have family gatherings (aka funerals).
Today I had to buy a bottle of wine. I am making a chicken dish tomorrow that calls for "dry white wine." (I am also making homemade bread in the bread machine and cookies). I hate when I have to buy alcohol. I imagine the feeling I get standing there is pretty similar to how guys feel in the tampon aisle. There are too many to choose from and all I knew was "dry white wine." I don't know what is dry, other than sherry, which is not white. At least not at Wal-Mart. (Buying alcohol at Wal-Mart seems so white trash. I really classed it up by wearing sweats. Which my mom probably bought at Wal-Mart since she lives in a small town and that is the only place to shop). So, there I stood looking for an inexpensive bottle of dry white wine, not knowing what I should be buying and wondering what the opposite of dry wine is. I am guessing it is not wet. I picked up a $2.97 bottle of Pinot Noir and looked at the back of the label. I was pretty sure it wasn't going to say "Yes, you dumbass, I am a dry white wine," but it didn't hurt to look. It didn't say if it is dry or not dry. But it did say in bold letters CONTAINS SULFITES. Sulfites? I smiled. I crossed the aisle and looked at two different wine coolers. They too contain sulfites. I felt giddy. I needed to call James and tell him I am allergic to alcohol because it contains sulfites.
How do I know this? Several years ago, I had a sinus infection. A couple of days after I started the antibiotics, I got a hive on my leg. My co-worker had just told me how stress causes her sister to break out in hives. I was pretty stressed out at the time, so I thought nothing of it. But then the hives kept coming and getting worse. So I called my nurse and said I thought I might be allergic to the antibiotic. I had no history of reactions to medicines but had never had this type before. I described the hives and she said I was definitely allergic and I needed to tell all future doctors and pharmicists I am allergic to sulfites.
It feels great to finally have a concrete reason behind saying I am allergic to alcohol. It is so frustrating I can't tell the one person who never doubted me when I said that; the person who once threatened a waiter for joking that he was going to bring me a Long Island Iced Tea instead of a regular one. The person who tried to explain to my family why I won't drink with them.
I think he knows. When I left the store, the sun was setting but the light was really bright. And it was raining. And when I turned around there was a double rainbow, faint on top but brilliant and beautiful on the bottom. The scene reminded me of the pictures I have seen of rainbows and brilliant light my dad took in Nevada when I was little. It made me feel they were both there with me.
I ultimately bought the $1.37 bottle of white cooking wine. I figure if it specifically says it is for cooking, I won't screw up the recipe. (If it was my store, the cooking wine would be in the baking aisle, not with the salad dressing, but whatever). Not that it really matters since I don't know what the dish is supposed to taste like and I am the only one eating it so if it sucks at least my cooking won't have made a bad impression on anyone.