How to be Sober
First of all, you must switch wildly between being totally enthusiastic and gung-ho about your sobriety and being terribly bitter and depressed that all your friends get to drink except you, who has a “teeny little problem.” You agree to go out to the bars with your friends, but only after catching a glimpse of yourself after an entire day of crying your sober anxiety out in bed among empty Kit-Kat wrappers and increasingly stale turkey sandwiches. You decide to watch one more Arrested Development before taking a whore’s bath at 8 p.m. and smearing some mascara on while you do your affirmations in the mirror you used earlier to snort a 10 mg Adderall off of. While your friends pre-party with the Sarah Palin’s Alaska drinking game YOU made up (you may be sober, but you’re still creative), you pace around your room impatiently. You change into heels, then into pajamas. One of your friends catches you and drunkenly demands that you “put yer fukken party dress back on, whore!” In an act of defiance, you put your heels back on, keep the pajamas, and add a fur coat. “I am SOBER and that means I am HOT SHIT,” you tell yourself. You pour some mineral water in a wine glass and head outside to chain smoke. Three and a half hours later, your friends are ready. “Hey…your mouth is blue,” one annoyingly observant partygoer notes. “You’re drunk, silly goose” you giggle, as you gargle the last of your mineral water and make a mental note to do a teeth check when you decide to snack on your last Adderall. By the time your group finally arrives at the bar, you’re chilly and nursing a Charley horse from the ten block walk. You take a moment to ponder how easy the walk would have been with a nice pint of Ole’ Granddad whiskey in your belly, and then ask the bartender for a glass of water. “What are you, DD tonight?”
“No,” you reply. “I’m sober.” The bartender looks at you with a mixture of pity and scorn, and hands you a giant plastic sippy cup with a bendy straw in it before heading to the other side of the bar to take some shots. Now that your look is complete, you turn around to find your friends. Unsurprisingly, they are on the other side taking shots with the bartender. You sigh and begin to make your way over, but not before running into a loudmouth from your past life. “Hey, there! Last time I saw you, you were hooking up with my roommate in my bed/falling down a flight of stairs with your tampon hanging out/getting arrested! How the hell are ya?!” You look down at your sippy cup and mumble, “I kinda stopped drinking.”
“Oh, like you’re not drinking tonight? I totally get that, you know. Everybody needs a night off once in a while.” “No, it’s more like a permanent thing.” (HUGE AWKWARD SILENCE) The old friend says something like, “Oh, haha, hmmmdkjahjha…..” pretends to see someone else, and walks off. You promptly ditch the sippy cup for a seltzer and lime, which they put in a cocktail glass (emphasis on glass) and makes you feel cool again until you run into another acquaintance who is in such disbelief that you’re not drinking that they force you to give them a sip of your fancy water. They shake their head and say, “But you were so much fun!” which almost sends you running for the delicatessen. “Be strong,” you whisper to yourself. “You are a…tiger. A sexy, confident, sober, TIGER! RAWWWRRRR!” You head outside to chain smoke and ward off creepy older men for the rest of the evening, watching your friends take shots, meet boys, and do karaoke, and it’s only until one of them gets kicked out for calling the bartender a “nasty ho shit version of Lady Gaga” and another pukes in her cowboy boots as she rolls around on the bathroom floor sobbing hysterically that it occurs to you that you have good reasons for not drinking tonight (or ever), and that is what makes you HOT SHIT, INDEED. You play Oprah on the bathroom floor for a few minutes, putting one comforting arm around your friend, and using the other to dig your cell phone out of your purse. You then use the money you saved on drinks to order a cab and a pizza for you and the driver to share on the way home. As you get ready for bed with all four walls staying blessedly still, you take a moment to thank god there’s no such thing as a pizza hangover.
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The apartment you lived in your first year out of school, the walk-up with a view of the street.
I wanted to quit my job. I hated my boss.
His eyes widened, he became angry, and backed off of me. I told him he could leave now. Now. He said “With you being a good Christian girl, and me studying to be a priest, I think it’s important we not tell anyone what we did.”
In a fallen world, hope, like faith, is often the hardest thing to hold onto especially when you need it the most.