Light. Too much fucking light. It’s invading, storming the gates of my inadequate eyelids, forcing consciousness–or something similar. I awaken to a strange, swirling synesthesia; I see nausea as I taste the sour notes of a headache on the end of my shriveled tongue. There’s a buzzing–high, insistent, annoying–but I don’t know which sensory organ is perceiving it. I might be so hungover that I’ve developed a sixth sense. I’ve broken my brain and in a weird twist of fate I find myself able to engage with a larger slice of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Did you know that as humans, we are only able to see less than 1% of the actual light (EM radiation) that flows through the atmosphere? Or that it’s the unique configuration of our ocular cones that allows us to see rainbows, meaning that we are actually complicit in the creation of said leprechaun hangouts? (Source = internet meme)
I don’t usually vomit on hungover mornings. I’m too stubborn for that. I hold that shit in and soldier through the day depressed, apathetic, and $50 poorer. Happy Friday. If I have work, I will cry blood. If I don’t, I will sleep until I have work. And then, when I finally feel human again, I’ll probably go to the bar. My voice has been in library mode too long. I must shout, sloppy and narrow, I must laugh and watch sports and objectify. Otherwise, it is all for naught; the hours spent working are wasted on the abstraction of theoretical, electronic numbers. I cannot swallow those numbers and laugh easier, I cannot take a wee shot of 80 proof savings account and achieve elation. I can’t have a chug off with my checkbook. This game is all about alchemy; convert the numbers to reality in the form of an IPA. Everyone has friends at the bar when the going is drunk and the tab is yet to be paid. Those moments keep us coming back, night after night, forgotten conversations compiling exponentially, chasing the dragon of momentary perfection. And then, morning.
I’ve passed too many mornings–entire days, sometimes weeks–in the lingering haze of organismic confusion, my body and mind out of sync, stumbling over each other like strangers in a tight dark hallway. It’s been ten years (this month!) of binge drinking. The past decade and arguably the most formative years of my life have been spent in the pursuit of social highs. And I found them, the highs, and god damn if I don’t want to hold on to them. But something else opened up somewhere along the way, something I can only call the “lows.” Spoiler alert: We only know high because we know its opposite, low. Actually, this is true of everything. We are only capable of knowing things relatively, that is, in comparison to other things. We can only seek the high for so long before its dark, anesthetizing twin shows up in equal measure and intensity. Call it a law of the Universe.
I know them both, these inseparable twins, and I don’t want to chase either of them anymore. I can’t. The cycle is too jarring. It may sound strange, but I find myself seeking balance, a natural harmony with the way the emotional siblings present themselves from moment to moment. This means stopping the hunt for highs. Or at least curbing the frantic pace with which I once sought happiness.
Hence, the embarking upon a year of sobriety from alcohol. I had my last beer on the Spring Solstice of this year, and I will be eagerly awaiting my next one on the same day, next year. I’m not proud of this commitment or even particularly happy about it. It’s already been a tough go and it’s only been 37 days. Right now I’m traveling, spending time by myself absorbed in books and yoga and the NBA playoffs. Not drinking is easy when you don’t have anyone to drink with. But when the time comes to return, to settle, to establish a routine, that will be the true test. How deeply is alcohol engrained in my life, my persona? How will my perception of the world shift as I watch the people I know and love drop into the forgetful jubilance of Jack Daniels?
If you’ve never been sober at a bar, I don’t recommend it. I think I did that once, and I fled like a gazelle on the African plains. It doesn’t work, and that scares me. Yet, I know what I have to do. Quitting the drink is just the first step of many in diving into the realms that I really want to explore. It’s a big step, yes. But I’m ready to take it. So, I lift my glass of lemon tea in a toast to anyone else out there who is ready for the same. Or, for anyone who has a delicious, frothy beer and is stoked about it. That’s cool too.