My History Of Alcohol

Illustration by Xochitl Castaño.

I’ve been twenty-one for two months. A little more than two months. The day after my birthday, my boyfriend and I ordered draft beer and crab cakes at a local pub. I was affronted because they didn’t card me.

I’ve been drinking intermittently since the end of eighth grade — June of 2009, when I had just turned fifteen, or was about to. Of course, for the first three years of possible alcohol imbibition I hardly ever did it. Maybe that’s not “of course” — high-schoolers get fucked up too, I suppose. The problem is availability. Sure, I drank during high school! But not frequently.

Photo by Ben Sutherland.

I shouldn’t admit this but one time my friend and I shoplifted pear-flavored vodka from the Lucky store in Hercules. We brought empty water bottles and a big purse. Nipped into the bathroom to commit the crime. I was an incredibly dumb kid.

My real bad-choices drinking happened the summer after I turned eighteen, when I briefly lived away from my parents. I like to tell this funny-but-embarrassing story about how I vomited on a girl — it was our first date! — because I could not handle myself and how she was really nice about it and we kept romancing until she went back to school in late August.

Illustration by Mike Lay.

Probably the same month I kissed a friend out of the blue at a party and it was so awkward. Earlier, or maybe later, I invited some dude from OkCupid to visit the apartment; he assaulted me on the elevator when I made him leave. Ugh. I was only brave enough to berate him over text the next day. Those incidents made me calm down and abstain more. I learned that I should stop mixing drinks once I feel buzzed. Since then I’ve tripped up a couple of times and gotten stupid, sloppy drunk.

Photo by Rob Nguyen.

Only a couple of times. At the Andrew Jackson Jihad concert in San Francisco, but I don’t remember doing anything to be ashamed of. A weekend in May while watching TV with my boyfriend and his roommate, who I harangued about Mad Max for hours (among other topics, including his business). Hindsight is twenty-twenty and memories are mortifying.

Despite all that, so far I have managed to keep my relationship with alcohol healthy. It’s a miracle because depression runs in my family — it ran right into me — plus alcoholism afflicted one grandfather and at least one great-uncle. I see my peers use alcohol as an oblivion accelerant. When I “party”, I do the same thing.

Illustration by Adam Grason.

I would get drunk a lot more if I were less stingy.

Today I got home from work and went straight for the shandy in the fridge. I drank two cold bottles. I drank a glass of lemonade — just regular lemonade — that my dad made. I contemplated all of this, my emotional relationship to alcohol and how I have to be careful not to drink every night, not to let it become my default way to soothe frustration. There is too much frustration for a habit like that.

Originally published on my website.