This weekend I’ll be flying out to Denver for a dear friend’s wedding. My flight leaves at 5:45am (ugh) and I’ll arrive Saturday morning in the Centennial State, ready for my first solo, sober wedding adventure. I’m actually pretty excited.
Last year, I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding out in Phoenix. I was on the precipice of sobriety and decided that her wedding would be my last hurrah. I brought Caroline Knapp’s book, Drinking: A Love Story, with me and finished reading it in my hotel room the night before the rehearsal, before everyone else arrived in town. I loved it. Her story flowed like melted chocolate, and assuaged many of the fears, anxieties and feelings of loneliness I had when I even thought about going sober. And I knew – I just knew I wanted to be more than what I was, a heavy drinker with no idea where she was going or who she wanted to be. Caroline Knapp’s book was one of the very first to really, truly inspire me.
That weekend, I drank quite a bit. I felt like I was saying a sweet farewell to my boozy friend. I drank at the rehearsal dinner, drank at the reception (open bar, anyone?) and drank by myself the next day, when everyone else was leaving town but I had an extra night by myself at a hotel. I drank a bottle of champagne while flipping through Tinder profiles and watching TV, started talking to a local guy, and decided I would Uber out to a bar nearby to meet him for a beer.
That turned into two beers. And then I was really drunk. And then I got into this man’s car and he took me back to my hotel.
Thank god he took me back to the hotel. Thank god he took me there, instead of somewhere else. Thank god I am okay. And I say thank god as an atheist. At the time, the decision to hop into this stranger’s car wasn’t even really a question. He was nice, he was friendly & warm, and he had such a lovely accent (and a beard, too – I love beards). So, why wouldn’t I get in the car with him?
Uhh, fucking DUH.
At the time I wasn’t bothered at all by my decision to get in this man’s BMW and let him take me home – I was having fun drinking and meeting people, I’d recently broken up with my last boyfriend, I was out on vacation and the guy seemed to like me and think I was pretty. I felt free and adventurous. But now, today… I cringe. I cringe so hard. I can’t even begin to try to rationalize my drunk decision to get in a strange man’s car and let him drive me to my hotel. AND THEN, when we actually DID go to my hotel, to invite him up to my room.
To top it all off, the next day as I was chatting with a friend of mine, I told her about my little adventure and she congratulated me for “having some fun.”
This. This is one of the reasons I cannot drink. I didn’t often make such dangerous decisions during my drinking days, but there are those few instances that I can’t help but feel sick about. And it’s not like I’m special in this regard – there are countless stories of intoxicated people doing things that their sober selves would be horrified by. Things they’d never do if they weren’t drunk. We’re reasonable people with good heads on our shoulders, right? And then of course, we’re blamed if something does happen. And it’s so fucked up.
Thank god for me, I came out of it safely. Nothing bad happened. I met a nice man who was actually nice. But I was drunk. And my drunk decision could’ve gotten me in big trouble.
So, this weekend I am going to a wedding out of town, by myself, sober. I will politely refuse the champagne and lift my water glass instead for the toasts. I’ll stay aware and clear-headed enough to drive myself the 1.5 hours back down to my aunt’s house after the festivities, instead of having to take an Uber back to a hotel somewhere. I won’t knowingly put myself into potential danger. I’ll remember the night. And I’m planning on enjoying every moment of it.