This weekend, I’ll be heading up to State College, PA for the first time since I got sober for the annual Blue White weekend. For those of you who aren’t Penn Staters, this is a spring scrimmage football game complete with tailgating and about 100 thousand other Penn State fans. It’s also one of the last big weekends for Seniors who are getting ready to take their finals and graduate.
When I was an undergrad the Blue White weekend was always a great time. We’d get up early, head to the stadium, party like rock stars, and maybe go to the game. Actually, strike that, I don’t think I ever went into the Blue White game when I was an undergrad.
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit nervous about making this trip. I’ll be in the town where I learned to drink. I’ll be in the town that has my favorite bar, Zeno’s Pub. Even though I haven’t been to Zeno’s in years I can still smell the place.
I have avoided going back to school since I got sober. At first it was out of necessity. I got sober in the fall of 2015 during football season. I remember sitting down to watch the first game on television the weekend after I went to my first meeting. I lasted about five minutes before turning off the tube. The game was so triggering. I had never watched a game without drinking.
But with time the necessity of avoiding State College turned in to a fear of State College, even though my sobriety was getting stronger. With time, I was less afraid of going to State College and relapsing, than I was of going to State College and not knowing what to do with myself. The idea of going to State College and not going to the bars just didn’t seem feasible.
I’ve come a long way, though. I’ve been to weddings of fraternity brothers. I’ve been to lots of company events and happy hours. I’ve been around booze and not had a problem. Hell, I’ve even had a bottle of whisky in my house unopened since the day I quit drinking. If I’d wanted to drink, it likely would have happened by now.
The truth is that I really don’t want to drink because I know where that would lead.
So, I’m going to Penn State this weekend. I’m slaying that dragon. I’ll be putting that fear behind me. I know it won’t be the same as it was before. I know that there may be times when I feel like I’m missing out on something. But I also know that I can do this.
Thankfully, there is a Collegiate Recovery Center at Penn State now. And I plan to attend a meeting on Saturday night with them. I may also hit their sober tailgate. It will be a good way to get connected with my school in a healthy way and I’m looking forward to it.
I know that I’ve come too far and that what I’m really missing out on at this point is spending time with some of my best friends. I didn’t get sober to spend my days living in fear. I didn’t get sober to leave good parts my old life behind with the bad. I got sober so that I can live a rich and fulfilling life. And being connected to my school is part of that.
The featured photo is from a trip to Dublin in 2014 for the Croke Park Classic. Cleary, this was prior to me getting sober.