I was in a meeting the other day and it dawned on me that it would be much easier to get through it if I was drunk. The conversation was a little too slow, both of us seemed to push and pull our way through the meeting as neither of us really wanted to be there – he was clearly bored and I felt that I could anticipate everything he was about to say five minutes before he said it. I distinctly remember trying to pay attention to him as I fought the urge to fetch a few beers from the office kitchen.
It was, horrifyingly, only 11am.
This feeling of wanting to be drunk and making excuses to drink doesn’t happen often but it reminded me that I’ve always had a strange, even dangerous relationship with alcohol. There was a moment in college when I went to a small gathering on a Tuesday evening at the beginning of the year — it was held at the campus canteen and over an hour or so into the shindig I had gotten wildly, embarrassingly drunk. You know that point where you’re sober enough to realize you’re drunk and that you’ve made a horrible mistake? Well, I had that feeling and as I looked around the room the shock set in: not only was I the only person that was drunk, even worse; I was the only person that had been drinking in the first place.
Two weeks ago I also noticed that without really planning to I had turned up to a date an hour early. I’m almost never early for anything (I worry that I’m notorious for my lateness in fact). Halfway through the date I discovered why I’d been eager to get there so early though; it was so I could get loosened up with a drink before she arrived. And I was relieved that I had, because a few sips into the third beer and all the anxiety blurred away into the background. With another beer thrown in on top the locks would disengage and I knew I could be charming and funny and sweet without having to try so damn hard all the time. I wouldn’t have to worry about the million things I was worrying about earlier that day; my visa, whether she thought I was attractive or not, my concerns at work, my green card application, my health concerns, me moving away from San Fransisco at some point soon, and worst of all; whether she thought I was funny.
If I’m really honest then I have to admit that this same feeling struck me again on Friday evening, too. And it’s weird because I had such a lovely day – my work had been presented to the whole company and I received several compliments from the other designers. Next, I headed to a friend’s house and we played a D&D sort of game with a new gang of pals and so I was extraodinarily happy, smiles piled in on top of one another. And yet I still wanted to drink throughout the whole thing. When I returned home later that evening I was sad that I didn’t have that alcoholic buzz of success after a good night out and I had to sit there by myself instead, sober.
Yes, with my friends that evening I wanted to drink but not because I wanted to be drunk. It was a little more complicated than that. As the evening rolled past and our talking quickly turned into laughter and then tears because we were laughing so hard, in the back of my mind I still wanted to hide in the bathroom and drink a whole bottle of wine to…well…
It’s awful to admit this but it’s true: I knew that if I could get one more drink in me then I could finally be myself.