Twenty years ago in February, I got my first car. I know this because my license plates expire in April and that’s because I once forgot to renew my registration until after March had come and gone. It didn’t help that I didn’t change my legal address until 2009 despite living at least 75 miles away three years prior.
But I digress.
Once I got that 1995 Dodge Neon that I named Erin, my social life began in earnest. It’s also when I adopted the rule of the next day not beginning until one went to bed or the sun came up, whatever comes first. If we’ve been awake since 8 a.m. and I tell you at 12:20 am. that I’m doing something tomorrow, I mean after daybreak. I think telling someone at a party’s end at 2 a.m. that “you need to go to your own place tonight,” instead of “you need to go to your own place this morning,” makes things clear that you need to GTFO right now.
That said, what I drank while I rang in the new year at The Jefferson Theater (where I’m seeing Ben Gibbard again in April, if you’re interested in going) don’t count. Since waking up on Jan. 1, I’ve only had four drinks.
No, no, not drinking sessions. Four drinks. Four responsible adult-sized drinks.
I’ve had three glasses of wine and a bourbon and ginger ale. And in the case of the mixed drink, I just wanted the ginger ale, but the kitchen I was in during a party was crowded. I asked a friend to pour it and hand it to me. He asked what I wanted in it, and I reflexively said “bourbon.”
I mean, it’s like asking me what my favorite thing is. I’ll say “fire” without hesitation. Never mind that I don’t remember the last time I did more than light a cand — oh, I helped burn down a shrubbery during the first part of Phil Collins Weekend.
I didn’t mean to not drink. I was pretty hungover on New Year’s Day, because we were chauffeured to and from the venue in our private Lyft, so I didn’t want to see a booze until that weekend Renée opened the last bottle of wine I bought. I had a glass then and two more the week of the 12th. One was because another bottle was opened. That last drink was the night of the 16th, when I pulled an all-nighter to get our Virginia Press Association entries in and I hoped it would bring me down a notch from my caffeine high.
I’ve also had this month about 15 of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Alcoholic version of Heineken because I bought the for the party I went to in Richmond. I drove, and we were going back that night (not that morning), and I didn’t want to die. I liked how, unlike other nonalcoholic beers, it tasted like the real thing, so I bought more. I finished those off last week.
I think I simply forgot to stop drinking like I was depressed when I stopped being depressed.
What’s weird to me is that I don’t miss having a drink. After a long day at work, I haven’t told myself I needed one. (Work stress hasn’t changed beyond, for the past 1½ years, me feeling like I’m getting adequately compensated for what I do and I don’t have crushing daily deadline.) I’m not trying to quit, so we’re just going to see how long this goes.
I think I simply forgot to stop drinking like I was depressed when I stopped being depressed. It wasn’t healthy, but bourbon felt warm enough to fill that cold hole.
Yes, I put a pullquote in this entry.
So far, I haven’t picked up another vice in its place, other than me no longer being disciplined about going to bed at midnight anymore. And I really need to get back on that.
Because it’s 12:45 a.m., and I have a lot of work to do tomorrow morning.
ADDENDUM: This being exactly a year ago is a coincidence.