Last night, I lay in bed thinking about beer.
I haven’t had a drink in over four years, but I haven’t forgotten how much I enjoyed it.
I thought about the buzz after a good strong IPA, about patios with friends and pitchers, about cans of beer attached to my inner tube as I floated and laughed on a cold lake. And I started to think, “Maybe it would be okay to drink beer again.”
Then, without purpose or chronology, other memories flew into my mind.
I remembered being tossed out of a bar, drunkenly into the street. I remembered yelling at friends. I thought about dangerous decisions I’d made and relationships I had complicated.
I watched a carousel of shameful, painful memories—some of them worse than I care to discuss.
“But maybe now would be different,” I think. “Maybe I could be responsible now. Maybe now I could act like an adult.”
But I know—I know from my own repeated actions—that as soon as that liquid goes down my throat I’m not really me anymore. And that other girl can’t be trusted.
I’m sure it would be fine to have a beer or two. I bet it would be fun; it would be “harmless.” It wouldn’t happen the first time, or the second.
But it wouldn’t take long for me to get out of hand, to get violently hungover, to get stupid.
It wouldn’t take long for me to ruin something important, or to do something I’d really regret.
I realize that I am not absolved for my drunken sins. I know it in the base of my bones. But my one solace, when the reprehensible memories surface, is the fact that I’m not like that anymore.
“That’s why I don’t drink,” I think to myself. My mantra. My penance.
I say the words and I feel secure, if not better. I feel like someone who deserves to be trusted.
I feel like someone who trusts herself.
It is a subtler but more sustainable buzz.
I open a can of sparkling water and let my nice memories of beer be just that.
I say goodbye again to that feeling.
I say goodbye again to that girl.
Author: Nico Wood Kos
Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll; Editor: Toby Israel