It's been a month and half since I last touched my Best Friend. You know the old T.V. shows where the sad kids were staring longingly out the window of an old wood-paneled station wagon, waving good bye to the neighborhood of friends as their family moved far away across the country. Even the dog would be crammed in the back moping with the children. (ahhh the good old days before seat belts, when kids could travel cross country climbing from front to back of a mile long station wagon while Mom was nursing the youngest in the front seat and Dad was listening to A.M. radio) Our hearts broke for those kids separated by miles and miles - before Facebook could keep them connected every second of every day. And now I feel like I can relate.
I never moved miles and miles away from my Best Friend. (Accept on my Mission when I went to Madagascar... which was miles and miles from pretty much everything.) But recently I have looked through the window, with a sad face and heavy heart as I passed by the McDonald's Play Land. Through the steamy windows I can see the bright, happy faces of Moms whose kids are distracted by a twisty plastic slide that might as well be a petri dish for all of the bacteria it is growing. Those moms, who don't even notice me with my face pressed up against the glass full of jealousy and longing, are not just happy because they can have 20 minutes of peace and quiet on the Pinterest App while their kids run wild with a trail of french fries in their wake, they are happy because they are there with their Best Friends.
To you it may appear like they are sitting alone, at an empty table piled high with hamburger wrappers and broken Happy Meal toys. You don't see any conversations or laughter with friends. You just don't understand.
I see a woman, with joy on her face and a Large Diet Coke in her hand. It is glistening with condensation from the cold ice that caresses a dark bubbly nectar. The straw has a tiny bit of lip gloss on the top- mostly to ward of any kids who might think it is their drink and unknowingly sip from the forbidden cup. The way that the woman keeps her hand loosely around the cup at all times demonstrates their connection and deep love even while mindlessly flipping through photos of DIY projects and thousands of desserts on Pinterest. I know that they are Best Friends. They are happy just to be together. We have all had the kind of friendships that we describe as being perfect because you can just be together, without even having to talk. I am pretty sure we are all talking about the same Best Friend: Diet Coke.
Truth be told, in recent years I have grown much closer to Dr. Pepper. (But I seem to be a Southerner who calls all soda "Coke", or in my case a Diet Coke. Sorry, Dr. Pepper, I may never get your name right.). The amazing thing about switching from Diet Coke to Dr. Pepper (and sometimes Dr. Pepper 10 when I need to feel tough like the guys on the commercial) is that Diet Coke never got jealous. That is what true friendship is all about. Unconditional Love. And in return I have never been jealous of another woman's relationship with Diet Coke. It isn't like sharing a man. Instead, we are happy when we discover that we share a common Bestie. In fact, it makes us instant BFF's also! We find ourselves grabbing an extra soda in the drive thru to drop off at our new friend's house. We talk for hours comparing which fast food chain has the best fountain, and what new flavors we have come up with since Taco Time and Burger King have installed their Coca Cola Freestyle machines. We even fantasize about the day that our refrigerators come equipped with a touch screen Freestyle of their own! We commiserate over the worst DC we have ever had (if you have been out of the country you know what I mean) or the best one we ever had- when the ice to soda ratio was perfect and the straw was not too long, not too short. We talk about the times that DC has been there for us- when no one else was. The times the kids have destroyed the house and you know that the only thing that can keep you from destroying them in return is the hope of the drive thru after bedtime and alone time with your Best Friend. Or the times we really need to celebrate, and being non-alcoholic Mormons, the best way is to hear the crack and fiz of a can straight out of the ice chest bursting open in your hand.
Some of you may be absolutely confused by this post. It is probably because you have never had a Bestie like Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper. My heart goes out to you.
So here I am. I have left behind my Best Friend. Pulled away in my station wagon, so to speak, and given it up for my 90 Day Goals. In the beginning, I couldn't take my mind off of Diet Coke. There were times I felt exhausted and I longed for the caffeine. There were moments where I was drained from the kids and I missed the special drive thru treat that a cold soda has always been. My hand misses the feel of the cup, and my lips miss the plasticy taste of the straw. And my soul missed the immediate pick me up of a first sip (no sip is as good as the first, that's why my brother is really mean when he steals my sister in laws first sip. Not cool, Jeff, not cool.). I haven't had any headaches- probably because I was not a daily drinker- so I haven't had any physical withdrawals. But I am not kidding when I say the first month I had some serious emotional withdrawals. I missed DC like I would miss a Best Friend.
Now that I am half way through the 90 Days, I am starting to wonder what is next? Do I return to our old friendship? Probably not, I had good reason for leaving. Do I give it up forever? Do I try to save it for "special occasions" (like Tuesdays and Thursdays or days that the kids are hard?) Or is this like an alcoholic who just needs to know they can never start it up again with out sliding back in? (Yes, I know, we are not talking about alcohol. I am only using the comparison for my "addiction".)
The crazy thing is that I don't know ANYONE who has ever done this. I don't know anyone who has LOVED soda (the way I love DC, the kind of love that makes you weep when you are at a movie theater because Popcorn is impossible to eat without one) and then totally given it up.
If you, or someone you know, has had a Soda Bestie and is now Soda Sober- please have them contact me! I need a group! I need someone who can say they understand, that they too find themselves avoiding all the old familiar places (like 7-11 because they have amazing fountain drinks or backyard BBQ's because there is bound to be an ice chest) and have found a new life with water.
(You think I am kidding, don't you? I'm not, I really need to find someone who gets it.)
I've lost a Best Friend, but don't worry I gained two pounds. (Yep, that's right, they lie on the Biggest Loser when they say you will lose weight if you give up soda. Not me, even after drinking super calorie Dr. Pepper!) But I am staying strong. Partly because it is one of my 90 Day Goals- and I don't fail on those. And partly because I get really really bad headaches when I start drinking caffeine again. (I swear I almost went blind after my mission because of the caffeine overload when I returned home.) And the scar still remains. I am still just that kid in the back of the station wagon (which totally makes me throw up so I hated sitting back there) waving good bye to a neighborhood of friends named Diet Coke and Dr. Pepper. I'll never forget you, friends. (Mostly because people like Crystal keeping showing up at the park with their giant 42 ounce fountain drinks!)