It was a Friday night and the first night I had touched alcohol in 2 months.
I had been silently proud of myself, counted the days which turned into weeks; with every occasion out an opportunity to practise saying no.
No, thank you I’m dry….
No I can”t I’m pregnant. Pregnant with purpose…
No thanks, just tonic water and 5 limes for me…
No, but I can sniff your wine? Please? Don’t watch…
Some nights were definitely harder than others, like my work Christmas party. One of multiple occasions I began to felt like an adult baby, stuck on ‘mocktaills’, which is really just expensive juice.
Either way, as the months went on I stopped craving it and like the mature adult I was becoming, I ate my feelings in desert instead.
And somehow, – alcohol + ice-cream every 2nd night and + my new challenge of running 4 days a week meant my body shrunk to a size 8.
However the last two months did also serve some rather depressing realties. Like, I wasn’t nearly as much fun on nights out. And not meaning to be dramatic ( okay, maybe just a little ) but I felt like my whole personality changed. Or perhaps, I wasn’t as extroverted as I thought I was.
It become apparent to me, during a friend’s wedding reception that alcohol was this inhabiting beast that made people into somewhat of a circus animal. Extreme extroverts ( like I thought I was ) feeding on any crumbs of impulsivity they could find, with this need to people-pleasing, sprinkle shock-value and basically inhibit the role of tinsel on the Christmas Tree.
But being sober on such an occasion and watching an extrovert discus penises for the whole bridal table to hear ( including her partner ) made me realise doing all that was rather… exhausting.
Being sober I also would exit things earlier, as tiredness would kick in at 10 and any sugary drinks would pull your energy around 30 minutes later. This made nights more inexpensive but it also made it so much more obvious when you weren’t compatible with someone. And the ability to tap out quietly, kind of impossible.
On dates, when I realised we didn’t share the same sense of humour or they were a Trump supporter, I would bow out gracefully via a wine or three.
But without the complimentary 3rd, I was forced to wonder if we did have things in common; did I like who they were as a person, did I find what they did respectful and did I like how they made me feel? Am I excited to go on a second date? All these questions alcohol use to draw large pink swirls over.
Another reality when becoming a day-walker rather than a lady of the night- or should I say, by making the most of your interactions during the day, is that your circle of people changes.
Transient ‘party friends’ who were only around when you went out on the town, fade into the night and friends who genuinely treat you better make the effort to see you more and more.
Lots of people said not drinking would have a billion benefits – mostly money – but overall because of continuing uni until the last few days before Christmas, I still had mountains of mental fog that left me feeling quite aloof. So I didn’t feel like a new woman without it, but it defiantly made me like myself better, so there’s that.
Thus, I celebrated my last night in Sydney for 2022 and my newfound sobriety by ruining it with a French investment banker, who I made out with in the lift all the way to the rooftop bar.
It was our second date, and with alcohol finally being welcomed to the party, the night had a more playful, relaxed aroma.
We spoke about sexism, about our dabbling with prostitution and why we liked our jobs.
‘See- I’m an anarchist,’ he says. ‘I hate them and they hate me but we make each other stupid amounts of money.’
‘See!’ He points to a tall grey building in the distance.
‘I spend my life in one of those, I hate it.’
‘That one’s your nest?‘ I peer at it, and he looks back at me.
‘Yes- maybe… let me see. ‘
‘If that’s your nest, that kinda makes you… a pigeon? Right?”
‘ YES – I’m simply a pigeon!’
‘The rat of the sky!’
‘So what would you do if you didn’t do your job?’ I ask.
‘Idk… quit? Surf? Buy a house in my favourite place in the world?’
Thinking about my dad. About how he taught me that jobs in finance draw people in who simply like making money- whereas other jobs are about making money with other things in front, like creativity, helping people, hospitality, being smart…
Quitting sounds so easy when he says it but habits are tough to break.
I don’t say this though, as I don’t know him well enough to figure out what path he will take.
I do however know he has a complex relationship with money; much like mine, which is a reason why I think I like him. Another reason being he is nothing like the usual guys I find myself sitting across from.
The start of the new year bringing fresh optimism, that I have decided to embrace early. I think I need to date people who are easy to be with, honest and most importantly don’t carry around a massive ego.
I like how this guy looks at me- how his stare is quite intense but not how I first thought, in a judgmental kind of way. In a seeing kind of way.
‘You really are beautiful, do you know that?‘
I smile and nudge him. It’s the first time he’s called me this.
‘So, plan A or B? My place or home?‘
I change the table lamp from red to yellow, by tapping it.
‘Ah-Plan B. Totally up to you.’
I smile again as I can feel the alcohol now working against me.
In the Uber home, I lightly regret going back to alcohol, wondering if I should bin it all together; as I re-taste the same feelings I had when reaching out to an ex who added me on Facebook just a month ago.
At home, I attempt to pack my bag for Bali tomorrow, but instead fall asleep in a pile of clothes and pets on my bed, in what must look like a crazy watercolour painting.
And the last few moments of 2022 in Sydney I let drift by, too tired to be awake.