I love drinking.
I love the way alcohol tastes and how it feels and how it makes me not feel. Or over-feel.
I love the way it makes people more tolerable or less tolerable and I love how it makes me less tolerable to other people. You find out who your friends are really quickly when you’re drunk. And you find out who you’re attracted to almost instantaneously. You don’t waste a whole lot of time thinking about what things mean in the morning because right now it is night and night is all there is and all there ever will be.
And then after a while it extends into the day. And then the morning. I’ve been drinking almost every single day for about 10 years. When I moved to college, I kept a handle of gin in my desk drawer. When I moved to my first apartment I made sure a dive bar I could afford was within walking distance. I became a whiskey connoisseur and had to try every single malt, every blend, every rye. I joined wine clubs. First one. Now twenty.
About two months ago I met a doctor and he told me that I was marching towards death. Worse, actually. He told me that if I didn’t make some serious changes my liver was going to fail and what I would experience would make me pray for death.
That night I drank an entire bottle of tequila. Because fuck that guy.
And then the craziest thing happened. After more than ten years of relentlessly shoveling alcohol down my throat, my body decided to react. One night, after doing 12 shots of mezcal by myself in an abandoned hut on a remote island, I woke up and my skin was turning yellow.
So I stopped drinking.
And let me tell you something about not drinking. It’s terrible.
The first thing you ask yourself is, if this is what it takes to survive, I mean, do I really want to live? Is this really worth doing? You have to feel everything and you have to listen to people and you have to act rationally and you actually have to be attracted to the people you sleep with. But you no longer have the confidence to walk up to the people you’re attracted to that you’d want to sleep with.
Not drinking is easy, actually. All you have to do is not put alcohol in your mouth. It’s actually not hard. Most people are doing that at this very second.
The hard part is not quitting drinking. It’s learning to do other things sober.
I’ve never not had a drink on a plane. Or with dinner. Or before bed. Or at work.
It’s terrible. It’s a terrible terrible way to live. Your memory comes back. Do you have any idea how awful that is? Suddenly you wake up every morning and you remember every detail from the night before. You wake up every morning and you feel okay! I’m not kidding. This is something I don’t know how to do.
And then you tell some people that you’re quitting drinking and they start telling you how proud they are of you. And they mean well, but it’s so infantalizing. People are congratulating you for not making stupid decisions because for the past ten years they’ve just accepted that you’re the kind of person who makes bad decisions. I’ve finally worked my way up to neutral and I’m being told that people are “impressed” by my newfound ability to do what most people already do. No, thank you. Not for me.
Everything about quitting drinking is bad. And almost everything about drinking is great.
I love drinking.
But I’m not going to do it anymore.
At least not for a while. I’m not quite done living yet, but I’m also not done making mistakes either.