Find Your Vice. Let it Pull You Through.
“Every day!?” he asked in shock. I looked back at him, taken back myself. I have to admit, my own disbelief that he was this surprised seemed about equal to his.
“Yup.” I said with a nod. “Everyday.”
“Today?” This guy... I thought to myself. But instead just replied confidently:
“Twice.” I said. He stepped back to look at the clock. “It’s 11:30 am” he laughed.
Yes, twice, before 11:30 am, I had managed to consume champagne and bacon. And I’d been doing so every single day for a few weeks now. Not always so early. Not always together, but sometimes.
For most people I’d bestowed the priviledge of knowing my indulgences, this wasn’t a habit that was hard to understand. What was more perplexing was the lack of justification for it, other than it was what I craved at all times.
But this particular person deserved baiting:
“There was one day after a particularly long work week that I didn’t even get out of bed except to grab the champagne bottle and a ziplock bag of bacon, and I took it all back to bed with me.” He looked at me both interested and slightly concerned. Like he was a bit surprised and yet...well...got it. Jackpot.
We all have our vices: cigarettes and chocolate milk, trashy TV, getting drunk on Saturday night. When life drags us through the mud, it pays to have a habit or two that we can keep in tow; something to look forward to. There had been phases in life when it was a matcha latte in the afternoon next to my laptop while I worked that I looked forward to. And twice a week it was still a 6-mile run through Koreatown, but that wasn’t a habit I could do daily and count on my body not to fall apart, as it already was slowly and steadily.
So why these two particular things, and why every day? It started first with champagne. I bought a bottle on a whim, and liked the way it looked in my fridge. Having a bottle of champagne on hand at all times seemed classy, metropolitan, helplessly Parisian. From then on I made sure I always had some in house just in case there was ever a reason to celebrate - or commiserate. Or some commissary to celebrate. As it turns out, a pain can be just as much a reason to indulge as an accomplishment. Having made it through, or to be currently going through and very much in the thick of, something painful or stressful or challenging and knowing that every single second of the journey survived is worth honoring in emotional and physical ways is more than reassuring. So working too many hours and not hearing back from an editor on a piece I was so proud to have submitted or just having stood up for myself in a simple conversation or a complex relationship - it all deserved champagne either as a tonic or a treat. Does champagne have to be one or the other? Is not life a wonderful muddled mix of both at all times - the pain that helps us grow, the success that makes us feel hungry for more instead of satisfied…
On the fateful day I paired it with bacon...that perfect match ensured life would never be the same. Perfect as love in lust. As enlightenment in heartbreak. Perfect as tears cried into the ocean. A pair as perfect as heartbreak and bathtub ballads. Like tired muscles and an epsom bath. Perfect as anything that is both bitter and sweet, hurts with pleasure as it heals, both thick and dense and warm and crisp and refreshing and always bubbling in motion.
If you’re womanhood has any resemblance to mine - ambitious, health conscious, self aware yet highly sensitive - you too might find yourself overly fixated on having earned the right for such indulgences as champagne and bacon every day. That we must allow things to fall so spectacularly apart that we finally allow ourselves the chance to hurt and mourn our own challenges is anything but fair, just, or warranted. My current mood was somewhere in between all that - not catastrophic, not miniscule. So the champagne-and-bacon vice had nothing to do with earning it, as a hero or a failure; it was solely about accepting things as they were.
And so for the foreseeable future, I remain in my habits. A stocked fridge of champagne, a small bag of bacon ready at the wait, a willingness to indulge and an understanding that this, like all phases of life will come and go. That time will pass and though right now I can’t know why I need it or what it all means, I can release into these small moments of both pain and pleasure, growth and stagnation.
And for you, what might such an indulgence be? What might be the perfect pairing that draws you back from heartbreak and into the small celebrations of your own life? Might it be uninterrupted naps at 3:00 every day? A revival of your diet coke addiction, just for a few months? A mid morning cry to Ariana Grande before work? Gin martinis?? Whatever it is, as Mary Oliver says, let the animal of your body love it, roll in it like mud in the desert, and allow yourself the small but wonderous freedom to indulge. There’s times in life when we must do what we know isn’t good for us, to reaffirm why we do what is. To have the extra cocktail out, to stay up all night fantasizing and stressing. To be curt and sarcastic to an attractive stranger. To eat the damn bacon and drink the damn champagne straight out of the bottle, before 11:30 am, and not feel one bit bad about it without even needing to explain it to ourselves.
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.