As pumpkin brews started to take the place of summer ales on the shelves of liquor stores, I began thinking of my drinking behavior throughout my life. Here’s my recap.
Childhood: My first real memory of alcohol comes in the form of beer. Heineken to be exact. On Sundays, my mother would make tuna fish sandwiches and my father would drink a beer. Probably the only reason I remember this is because my sister and I liked to take turns pouring the beer from the bottle. We got pretty good at tilting the glass and creating the perfect foam head. I’m sure my mother drank plenty of wine during this same period of my life, but since I wasn’t involved, I didn’t pay attention. The smell of my father’s drink was enough to know I didn’t want anything else to do with this refreshment.
Teens: Like many high schoolers, my first personal experience with booze happened when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I was a pretty low-key adolescent so it should come to no surprise that I imbibed safely at my friend’s house and with decent-quality vodka. My friend’s parents were away for the weekend leaving her and her two younger siblings in the capable hands of a house-sitter. At some point, my friend and I decided to test our ability to pilfer small amounts of alcohol and add it to our orange juice, replacing what we’d taken with, you guessed it, water. After one drink, we thought it wise to call my parents to tell them we were interested in a last-minute sleepover. Drinking was exhilarating, mischievous and quite tasty, and we wanted to dedicate the entire night to its influence.
The next morning, I woke up in her sister’s clothes on the floor of her basement with a minor hangover and snippets of a really fun evening. Over the next few years, drinking for me became a luxury, a frill like everything else that makes a teenager impulsive and eager. Kissing a boy and getting lost driving created almost the same thrill as experimentation with and exposure to alcohol. It came secondary to hanging out with friends, trying to figure out who the hell I wanted to be.
College-25: This was alcohol’s time to shine. And shine it did. Cheap, piss-tasting beer, bottom-shelf vodka and boxed wine was the name of the game during these years. Booze was a necessity, the main ingredient to the evening with equal parts friends and stupidity. If you weren’t going to get drunk and if you weren’t going to act stupid, it was best just to stay home. After all, what better way to spend your Saturday and Sunday mornings than to laugh about all the crazy shit that happened the night before?
Metabolism at this age is a blessing and a curse. It allows you to drink a disgusting quantity of alcohol and function somewhat in a matter of hours. And so, memories of my college and post-college years are hazy, hilarious, and just the way I want them.
25-30: Nothing lasts forever and thank goodness for that. Eventually, almost falling asleep on the toilet in the bathroom of a bar and losing half your weekend to a hangover gets old. If you’re lucky, your income during these years affords you some better-quality alcohol and you can begin to appreciate it, rather than rely on it.
During my mid- to late-twenties, I started to pay attention to the taste of beer and wine. Boyfriend/Husband and I went to beer fests, ordered a bottle of wine at dinner, and made cocktails to drink on our front porch in the summer. There were still rounds of shots when we went out with friends, but nights where we lost control were few and far between. It was a nice transition into the next stage of life: parenthood.
30-35: Kids change everything. My relationship with alcohol is no exception. After learning I was pregnant with #1, I discovered not drinking at all had its benefits, namely, I always woke up feeling wonderful. I had no problem giving up booze for nine months. Barely missed it, in fact. Then, when my daughter was born, I was sleep deprived and nursing, and a single glass of wine was like a gift from the heavens. When I finished the glass, I was relaxed, satisfied and uninterested in a top off.
Now, with two kids in tow, drinking is a nice way to unwind, but one or two glasses/cans is enough for me. The consequences of having more is too great, and I’m okay with this.
I suppose I’ve almost come full-circle as my relationship with alcohol has changed considerably over the years. What started out as a secret affair, turned into a deliberate dependence. Then, after growing apart, I believe alcohol and I have come to a happy medium, one of mutual respect and appreciation. There is no part of me that longs for my college years, but as I move through my mid-thirties, I want booze right there beside me. After all, the perfect pour is a horrible thing to waste.