“I’m sorry, Kayla, you can’t drink,” said my sister.
I was silent.
“You were terrible last night, did you know you got mad at me twice? You yelled at me at the bar in front of everyone because you thought boys were flirting with me and not you.”
I looked away from her. She kept going.
“Then, you said you were going to order a salad from room service. But you ordered a burger, and mushrooms,” she said with a laugh.
“But then you threw the mushrooms all over the place,” she said. “Look.”
I sat up from the hotel bed, and next to me, was a damn mushroom.
“I’m so sorry, Soph. You’re right, I can’t drink. I’m so so sorry.”
She looked away from me and put her shoes on.
“Go take a shower.”
I turned the shower on and from the bathroom I yelled to her.
“I AM DONE DRINKING.”
Alcohol has always been a source of anxiety for me, anxiety when I didn’t have it in social experiences, anxiety when I woke up and saw the mess I made, and anxiety that if I didn’t drink it, I didn’t belong.
I remember the first time I blacked out. Well, I don’t remember, but what at least 10 people remembered. It was freshman year of college at my brand new school in Upstate New York. At a dive bar on the side of the highway, I was so drunk I fell on my back on the dance floor at least 10 times. All of my friends left me and went back to the dorms because they couldn’t “deal with me.” Three girls who were friends of a friend brought me back to my dorm from the bar. I can almost picture my eyelids half open, and my black dress hiked up.
The binge continued and I was the “party girl.” In high school, my type of party was a couple candles and a Sarah Dessen novel. But new-me was different. New-me had a boyfriend who was obsessed with her and went out 3 or 4 times a week. New-me had friends who stopped talking to depressed me when I left school a month early freshman year.
Then I came back, bringing my friend alcohol back with me, convinced I could make this whole upstate experience work. But it didn’t. I chugged beers at bars, I tried out new friends like purses. Then, this girl told me, “You seemed so much happier at home, you should transfer.” After that, a fucking light went off in my head, of course, that makes so much sense.
Cue, the transition to Los Angeles, drinking lighter, feeling lighter, until school starts up again. There she is, “new-me,” is back, except now it’s “LA new-me.” “LA new-me” has a variety of passions such as, drinking as much as she can out of pots and pans at a party and puking in the elevator. Also, she enjoys clubbing. Squeezing into tight dresses and sitting there, sipping, and sipping, until, one time, my heart beat so fast I had to run to the bathroom. “LA new-me” lasted until college was over.
Then came that night, my family was in Chicago. We had come right after my graduation to celebrate my grandpa’s 90th birthday. We met my brother’s friends and I got nervous so I chugged two vodka sodas in the first hour of us being out. Free drinks and me were a notorious combination. Then we went to a little cantina and sat in the bar area. Free margaritas? Ole, I drank three. Then came the next bar and this bar hit differently. I braced myself for impact and woke up next to some mushrooms.
I have been sober/moderately sober for a year. Alcohol has been a sidekick that brings me down. It tells me I’m not good enough, it embarrasses me, it makes me into a completely different person. I become some party-chasing, insecure, anxious wannabe. I believe in superficiality. I am superficial. I deplete my depth.
Sober is my superpower. I am more intellectually stimulated, curious about people and the world around me, even more outgoing and even more cool, because I care. Drinking takes that away. Being in this quarantine and not drinking a lick of liquor has quenched my taste for life and realizing that, makes all the difference.