Indian weddings are a merry affair. At least in my family. Everyone flies in from everywhere and we create a giant reunion with food and activity and laughter that lasts for more than a few days. They’re pretty fun.
In August 2018, I went to the wedding of a close cousin. On the final day of the festivities, I stayed out until 3:30 in the morning, when the bar that held the after-party kicked us out. We danced and talked and sang karaoke and took ridiculous pictures with the wedding mascot, this red pepper.
This wedding was a stark contrast to my sister’s wedding, when I ended the night in my petticoat and blouse — the underwear of the sari outfit — on the floor of the hallway between the ballroom and the bathroom. Yes, more covered than a bikini or even a summer evening, but still mortifying and not who I want to be.
I’m not a good drunk. I’m obnoxious and I’m loud and I think I’m hilarious. I will repeat something over and over again until you want to hit me. I flirt and tell the world how much I appreciate and love everything and you’ll feel guilty about wanting to hit me earlier.
And then I’ll pass out and my night will be over. I’m a lightweight and can’t handle my liquor. After two drinks, I’m three sheets.
And the next morning is generally unpleasant for my body. My mouth is dry. My throat is dry. I’m dehydrated. I have a headache. My stomach hurts. My liver is annoyed. Yes, we will tolerate this abuse because we love you, but it makes us sad, my body insinuated.
My year is nearly over and I don’t have a visible six-pack.
I do, however, have a love and appreciation for me that I didn’t when I started. I talk to my body. She talks back. I feel good. We feel great.
Over the last year, through mindful working out, experimenting with diet, paying attention to what my body feels, how my body looks, and listening to what she’s saying to me, my body and I became friends.
You are not your body, but you are your body. You are not your bicep muscle, but when you pay attention to your bicep muscle while you are using your bicep muscle, you kind of are your bicep muscle. At that moment.
I want to continue being friends with my body, so, even though the Year of the Body is just about over, I plan to continue working out regularly, eating well, and not drinking alcohol.
Eating well and working out were two habits I fully expected to embrace, but it took a long time to prefer the no-alcohol resolution.
Eleven months into the Year of the Body, I still wasn’t sure if I would drink something the very first day I “could” and there were perhaps a dozen times I truly lamented not drinking. I kept a list. Here’s an excerpt:
Times I really wanted to drink this past year, but did not actually drink
- A wedding of a law school classmate. Weddings = drinking. Especially law school friends.
- Hanging out with my cousins, swapping stories.
- A few first dates.
- One second date.
- Playing Beersby, a drinking game involving a frisbee, with flight attendant friends. Drinking games = drinking. Flight attendant friends = drinking.
- A friend’s party in Denver where they made up an elaborate drinking game with dreidels and a sweet sixteen bracket.
We’re all desperate to belong to tribes. The drinking tribe is an easy one to join. You just have to drink and that’s your signal that you belong. Let’s grab a glass of wine and giggle with impunity, loosen up and shed some inhibitions, share some brewskies and swap close conversation, shortcut a friendship.
We live in a drinking culture. It’s how one passes the time, how one bonds with one’s peers, how one lets off steam, how one dates.
It’s easier to be social with the crutch of alcohol. For me anyway.
The problem is that I’m a rather small person, so even splashes of alcohol can drench me. I don’t like realizing I’m drunk when I just wanted to feel a buzz. That line is so fuzzy and easy to trip over.
I’ve never been a women of moderation. Abstaining is easier than temperance. Let me obsess or let me not think about it at all. I’m retired and have no reason to get up early tomorrow, so I can always find a reason to drink if I’m out doing fun things.
I’m always out doing fun things.
It’s better to reserve the brain cells and not negotiate, to automatically say no to alcohol. The more I went without drinking, the easier socializing became. I belong to my friends’ tribes because I’m fun, not because I’m a drinker.
I like being in control of my faculties. My faculties are all I have to offer. I can’t help you lift that rock.
I like myself better when I’m not drinking and that’s enough of a reason to not drink. But if I need more, because of course I have a list of reasons to not drink, here it is.
- I like myself better sober.
- My body dislikes alcohol to an astonishing degree.
- I feel safer not drinking.
- The word teetotaler delights me.
- Alcohol is expensive.
- I can hang out with you longer.
And because I always try to present both sides. My cons list.
- It’s easier to make friends over alcohol.
- It’s easier to date with alcohol.
- I miss the taste of some beverages.
- I can still use the word teetotaler even if I’m not one. That’s not really a con, just a reminder to balance out number four on the pro list.