|Me and my Cucumber Margarita. Salt rim optional.|
My happy place has evolved over the years - from sat on the hills above the town I went to school in with a fresh packet of cigarettes and a playlist, to dancing the macarena on the bartop of the place I used to work in and being the life and soul of the party all eyes on me, to stomping through the streets of central London in the afternoon drizzle in my biggest pair of boots and a raging soundtrack.
This here, this tequila slippered terrace, could be the happy place for the young-professional, one-drink, moving-on-up me.
|The view from my 'goodbye scene' - alcohol exits stage left|
I told her about my blog, this blog, what I want to do, what I want to work on with myself, and she asked questions - why do you drink like you do? When does an addiction become an addiction? What makes an addiction an addiction?
'Erm, well, as someone who doesn't consider they have an addiction to alcohol but that my unhealthy relationship with booze is is just a symptom of an underlying problem....'
Yes, I know how it sounds. I can still hear the niggle for acceptance, for the nod denoting that this was valid, as I write this.
|On a motherfucking boat.|
I felt like I was writing my 'about me' on Tinder, and applying for the right to carry on drinking.
"Well, good luck to you Harry. You are an intelligent guy, and you are gifted with an ability to form words. Alcoholics can be extremely manipulative, including with themselves. This is from my experience, and I just wanted to tell you that I hope it works out for you, because you are so talented, and it would be such a shame for that to be wasted.'
I have a confession (actually I have about a million - how long do you have?) but I'd decided before the holiday that it was going to be a 'last hurrah' in terms of drinking, at least for a little bit. I just wanted to enjoy that ice-cold beer, sitting on a boat, or that cocktail from a roof-terrace at sunset. I also wanted to explore the possible of getting monumentally fucked up, and hooking up with anything with a pulse. But after that, I wanted a prolongued break. At least a month. My birthday is mid-October, we would re-assess then.
Dot. Dot. Dot.
Why am I trying to hold on so much to something that I am also trying so hard to let go off? I've wanted to move towards a 'moderation approach' and this would be great, if I had actually done it. Instead the last 2 months have followed this pattern.
1) Pay day
2) Pay weekend wankered, 4 day bender
3) Monday after pay weekend, zero monies left.
4) *decides to not drink for rest of the month*, acknowledges convenience and coincidence of deciding this when have no money...
5) Look at me moderating my drinking, aren't you impressed?'
Step number 4 is a necessity. If I did not tell myself that I was not drinking for the month because I couldn't physically afford it, then I would find the money. I would go out, spend all my money for bills, travel cards, 'buffer money' and then I would find that from somewhere. Someone will lend it to me. Worse comes to worst I'll incur charges for an overdraft on my overdraft from the bank.
Notice how the worst comes to worst is not that I don't drink, because that isn't really the option available. It's just a given that I will.
Yep, that person. When I write this down, it all looks much worse than it feels in my head.. Hmm..
And so, sat with my feet swishing in the pool at about 1am, cigarette permanently in mouth, I got to thinking 'why not now?'
Why not now? What a memory to have to go out on - the perfect drink, in the perfect place. How many times have I woken up hungover, full of self-loathing, saying to myself 'never again' and then to find myself at the pub with a cider hours or days later? Why not do this now, do the inevitable now, from a positive memory as opposed to one which has involved my head remaining under the pillow, emerging only to dry-wretch into a bin.
Its time to give myself a chance - see what happens, see if I am happier without, see what I can do and who I can be. I know that this sounds all very romantic, idealised, and over the top, but as per my drunk self, I couldn't give a flying fuck. Alcohol has, over the last 10 years, given me many things - shelter, confidence, a fire that allowed me to blaze a trail, to get what I wanted, when I wanted, or at least the confidence to demand that the world acquiesced. In this process though I feel like I have lost some basics - a sense of what I'm about, an ability to name a 'fun fact' about myself that didn't involve drinking (once strawpeedoed a bottle of wine, has an ability to down a 2 pint stein of beer in one, appeared on BBC London news twice in 6 months - once directing traffic in Pimlico at 5am, and once promoting responsible service of alcohol, and the measures sports bars in London were taking to ensure measures were kept in place, during the Euro 2012 football tournament - unfortunately, none safe for interviews..), an ability to easily form connections with people that went beyond the depth of a pint glass, an ability to feel sober and interesting simultaneously. I drink, and therefore you like me.
And now I don't, or I'm not, and so maybe you don't.
I'm not doing this for you though, remember?
Part of me feels like I am breaking up with myself, and doesn't know how to take the rejection. Another part is relieved. Picture a lake on which several large pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are floating. A breeze will push the pieces from time to time, and they may bump into each other, but they do not come together. I need to put them together.
|Out last night for an old friend's birthday in Soho. Had a |
great time, danced like a wanker, and went home sober at 2am.
Bit sweaty mind...
I have the memory of that perfect drink with the no-guilt-and-no-apologies-attached, and if anything the drive to keep that memory clean, and not replace it with one where I swear off drinking again because I've seriously harmed myself, or worse someone else, or done something that makes me want to stay in bed, covers over my head, phone firmly turned off, incognito, foetus position, hiding from my problems like a child hides from bad dreams, is what will keep me sober.
I've had more than my 9 lives, and its been great while it lasted. Well, sometimes it has been. Sometimes, I've never banished a memory so quickly from my mind - not 'it didn't happen' but 'it did happen, but its done, and there is no point thinking about it.' Or learning from it, in my case.
It's time to leave the party - the sober conga line is departing now, and I guess I'm putting my hands on the hips of the stranger in front.