I’m pleased to say that Dry January was a success. There was a little fudging at the start for New Years' and at the end for an afternoon off of work on a beautiful day outdoors in Tokyo. But I did manage to string together 28 drink-free days (4 weeks!) in a row.

Drinks during January

I can definitely say that I feel a lot better in general. There was a clear benefit of a break that's longer than the odd couple days here and there or even a week every now and then. And I've seen some tangible benefits, too. I've lost 3 kg and about 3 cm around the midsection. And this was all while being pretty lazy, so I'm hoping to keep the momentum going once it is not quite so cold out and it is more pleasant to get outdoors to get in some steps.

At the end of the month, I had the afternoon off in Tokyo, so I took the occasion to walk around my old neighborhood, Monzennakacho, which put me in a nostalgic mood. Strolling through the neighborhood made me acutely aware of how much I missed living in Tokyo, how much I missed just walking around Tokyo. When I lived there I would easily hit my 10,000 steps for the day, sometimes a lot more. In Chiba, it's a struggle to do a fraction of that!

Walking around Monnaka also reminded me of many good times with friends ( if we're being totally honest, too many good times with friends – you don't become a guy doing Dry January if you didn't used to overdo it!). And it made me realize how distance and time and circumstances have conspired such that many friends have faded from my life. Having kids, moving, changing jobs, losing the connection to that one friend of friend, or just falling out of touch. A DnD game that goes on hiatus but never starts back. Just getting old. The reasons are various but I can't help but notice the trend seems to be going one way.

I also saw little changes around the neighborhood – a bar that had closed or a new restaurant that had opened. Inexplicably, the daycare on the first floor of my old building changed its name from "Happy Mom" to "Hybrid Mom" (WHAT ARE THEY HYBRIDIZING THE MOMS WITH??).

The change that hit hardest was in Kiba Park. In the middle of the park, under a lovely tree, there used to be a large square bench. During much of the pandemic, when bars were closed or when they were open but we didn't want to go hang out indoors breathing the Rona, my friends and I used to meet up outdoors, and this bench in Kiba Park was the top spot. Now it's gone.

A large tree in Kiba Park. To the right of the tree is a space where a bench used to be.
Kiba Park

It made me realize that even if I moved back to Monnaka tomorrow, the time and place and people I loved are gone. Not necessarily completely gone, but they've changed. A drinking buddy is now a new dad. A DnD player is engaged. The bench under the tree is gone.

Times change. Places change. People change. And I've got to change, too. I'll try to make it for the better.

I hope that I can build on the past month and the better habits I've formed. I'm pleased that this year has gotten off to a positive start, and I need to think of some new goals to tackle next.