I hate being sober.
Everybody talks about how great it is being sober, how clear they feel. How “It’s a struggle, but life is so much better now” and on and on.
I’ve been sober for 30 years and it fucking sucks. I think about alcohol every day. I think about all the drinks I didn’t get to drink.
I’ve never had a daiquiri with a little umbrella in it. I’ve never had a margarita or a mimosa or a mojito. In high school and college, I drank whatever was put in front of me or was on sale, and then I graduated to vodka tonics (twist of lime, never lemon).
And then I got hepatitis C and I stopped drinking, cold turkey. There’s something about jabbing yourself in the thigh with a syringe for several years that makes you want to protect your liver, if for no other reason than to make the stabbing stop.
But I remember the last drink I had. It was a Zima, and I was on the back deck of the little house I lived in with my first husband who probably gave me the hepatitis C, which he picked up from either a dirty coke straw, or a tattoo, or dialysis.
It was summer and I loved Zima. Cold and crisp and fizzy.
I remember the drinks before that too: the amaretto and cream I had at a high school party in a field at night; the Fuzzy Navels I drank at my best friend Amy’s house that turned me off peach schnapps for life; the Long Island iced teas we drank at Miami that were 16 ounces of oblivion; and the endless rounds of 50-cent beers in flimsy plastic cups that I downed throughout grad school and then drove home to puke outside my parents’ garage.
My dad told me to eat an orange to settle my stomach and it worked. As a young man, he’d almost died when he drove in front of a train. That’s when he tapered back to the occasional beer and a ritualistic Tom Collins every Saturday night. My mom would join him in a Tom Collins, but I never saw her drink anything else, which is probably for the best since I once found a bottle of Stelazine stashed in a kitchen cabinet. (Of course I took one.)
My uncle Jimmy, my dad’s brother, carried a little Igloo cooler around with him that was full of beer everywhere he went. He was the funniest human being I ever met. He died of pancreatic cancer, because that’s what gets you…