I stumbled upon my love of wine as a lot of twentysomethings do: After drinking (and building a tolerance to) the shittiest of vodkas throughout freshman and sophomore years, I wanted something that would get me happy-drunk for cheap. My senior year was the year Moscato became a thing. I haven't looked back since.
Like many twentysomething women, my social life revolves around eating food and getting wine-drunk. When I meet up with friends, we eat and drink. When I go out with friends, we eat and drink and drink some more. More often than that though, I'll go home after a crazy day at work and pour myself a goblet of wine, Olivia Pope style, because "I deserve it, dammit." Since college, wine has become a comfortable staple in my life, kind of like the childhood teddy bear I still keep in my apartment: I could get rid of it if I wanted to, but I still actively like it so it will stay as long as it's unobtrusive.
I am not an aggressive drinker. I'm an occasional and a social drinker. There wasn't an incident that prompted me to go sober for 10 days other than that I 1.) noticed an uptick in my drinking come summertime, and 2.) I wanted to see if I could enjoy myself as much without it. I didn't think it would be hard.
Friday, Day 1
I spent the day resenting my decision to be a walking buzzkill as I'd made plans to go out with a new-ish friend that night. I'd always had a girl crush on her and was anxiously excited that we were hanging out—she is gorgeous and intense and our friendship had recently blossomed over feminism and loving swoll guys. Anyway, we've hung out like twice and it's always been fun drunk times, so I was nervous because I didn't think we'd ever actually hung out sober before.
Unfortunately, my mom informed me of a family emergency on Friday afternoon and I headed home to Jersey last minute to be home with a family member before surgery, a little relieved that I didn't have to be social whilst sober and confident that I'd be able to avoid alcohol safely for the weekend.
I walked in and my mom was sipping rosé hard. "Drink with me! We deserve it." She wasn't wrong, I reasoned. Nobody will ever know, I reasoned. ONE GLASS WON'T DO ANYTHING ANYWAY, I reasoned. But it would—it would chill me the fuck out, which was exactly what I was trying to prove I could do wine-less anyway.
I instead submitted to a puppy attack, which, turns out, is fun drunk and sober.
I went to bed anxious, wishing I'd had a drink with my mom.
Saturday, Day 2
Any millennial will agree that the funnest part of coming home is running into people from high school while you're wearing your seventh grade jorts and haven't washed your hair in three days.
Knowing that this would inevitably happen, I still agreed to go to the mall with my mom that day and ran into 1.) my prom date's parents and 2.) several other kids from high school, one of whom I am confident I made out with once. A lot of it was awkward.
You deserve a drink, I reasoned (again) when I got home. That was awful and it is a beautiful summer day, I reasoned (again) when my frat star brother had a beer by the pool. ONE GLASS WON'T DO ANYTHING, I reasoned. I took a fucking nap instead.
Sunday, Day 3
Scarred from the day before, I made a conscious decision to not leave my house where no blasts from the past could get to me. My family roséd on. They encouraged me to join. I was sad and stubborn. I was also totally fine. I'd made it through the weekend. Albeit, I'd been a hermit and avoided people my age at all costs, but I'd done it.
Monday, Day 4
I made it through the work day sober (kidding. Kidding! But it's true) and was looking forward to dinner with one of my closest college friends. I got strangely anxious about having to explain why I wouldn't be ordering a drink with dinner even though my friend is the sweetest, happiest, foodiest person I know. Still, I was fixated on it as I got on the subway. Maybe it was my anxiety that caused me to choose a Belgian beer hall for dinner? Maybe I am a masochist.
Anyway, I got to dinner and neither one of us were "feeling" a drink, so it wasn't an issue. Dinner was lovely and I am an idiot. Friendship is fun. I had a really nice time catching up with someone I care about, no drinks needed.
Tuesday, Day 5
There is never not a Tuesday when I come home and am like "I want to be social! Today was such a party, how can I keep it going?" Tuesdays are the worst and Tuesday nights are made for couch wine and sweatpants snacks. If I couldn't have couch wine and sweatpants snacks, I decided, I would have an energy drink and do jumping jacks, because, like, exercise is good for you. Not nearly as fun, but it worked. I fell asleep as quickly as I do when I have a drink with dinner. It turns out exercising has health benefits, just like wine does. Who'd have thought?
Wednesday, Day 6
See above. I got out of work unexpectedly late and was wired and tired in the way that only sitting in front of a computer for 11 hours straight can make you. Normally, I wine to tone down the wired part, so I did laps around my studio instead. I passed out around 10 p.m. I wasn't mad about it.
Thursday, Day 7
I woke up feeling great on Thursday. I'd gotten this far — I could do anything! — including an office happy hour, date night, and fulfilling my promise to my boyfriend that I'd made weeks ago that we'd "see where the night takes us" afterward.
I didn't drink at the Cosmopolitan.com happy hour despite the fact there was sparkly glitter wine being served. I satisfied myself with the fried food and cupcakes that came with it and didn't give my drinklessness a second thought because I am usually sober at work.
Dinner was harder. My boyfriend is a doctor and his schedule is difficult. It's rare that he has a night off to begin with and he was especially excited that I had a day off the next day — he wanted to get super silly drunk together and I did too. I really, truly, almost broke and had some rosé with him, knowing very well that I could reason that it wouldn't do anything to me, but that that reasoning would be a lie. So we followed the universal formula for flawless date night: 1 person drinking heavily + 1 person eating to fill the void = fun couple-y times.
It was great. It sounds like I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not. It would be a little concerning if we weren't able to survive a night like this, wouldn't it? My boyfriend is a silly happy drunk and I am always happy to eat, so the whole situation worked out well. We wandered the city until super late that night feeling all twentysomething and ~*alive*~. I ran into someone from college who I hadn't seen in years at one of the bars, but felt much less weird about it than I had earlier in the week. I want to say it's because I had my boyfriend as a buffer, but I don't think that's totally true. I was able to actually catch up with someone and ask her thoughtful questions about her life and I didn't initiate brunch plans I had no intention of keeping. I think I was high on life and love and cheese.
Friday, Day 8
Friday, in the beginning, was difficult. My boyfriend headed back to work and I spent the day eating and preparing to flake on an old friend's birthday party later that night. It was in a club with a free vodka happy hour beforehand. There was no way in hell it was going to be fun sober. Have you ever been to da club sober? Have you? It's a strange place. Firstly, it smells bad. I bet you never noticed how badly it smells. Secondly, everyone there is disgusting. In theory, it is a terrible place to have a birthday party. In practice, everyone's drunk so who cares?
I was with an amazing group of drunk people. We were there to celebrate an awesome, kind, brilliant woman, so there were good vibes in my little club circle. I got a seltzer with some lime to hold on to and prepared to not leave my circle for the rest of the night.
Other observations from my sober night out: Men are disgusting. I can't really dance no matter how hard I try. It's not irrational to get that mad when people spill on you. Men are disgusting. Dancing is so good for the soul even when you're terrible at it.
I tried to fight the urge to be in Mom Mode all night ("Excuse me! Excuse me! You just spilled all over me, did you see that I'm standing here!? Excuse me! How many have you had to drink? Hahaha, no, no, keep going, I'm just asking, you're fine! Excuse me, who gave you permission to put your hand there? Wow, 11:45 p.m., it's already so late!). I failed. If anything, I was a Cool Mom. What's wrong with making sure your friends don't pick up drinks they left on the bar unattended 10 minutes ago while involuntarily amusing everyone by showing off how you learned to do "that cool dance" you saw on the Internet last week? I'm not ashamed.
I held out til 1 a.m.-ish when I insisted we either 1.) leave and go to sleep or 2.) feed ourselves. I did both. Turns out, mozz sticks aren't just a drunk food, because I ordered some as soon as I got home despite being stone cold sober. The 2:45 a.m. fried cheese was disgusting. I ate all of it and fell asleep thinking about how I love my friends and that maybe I should spend all the money I'd saved from not drinking this week on some quality cheese.
Saturday, Day 9
I woke up seven hours later with the boundless energy to get out of bed and walk to get food. I scrolled through my texts from the night before knowing I'd be hearing about how badly everyone was hungover later that day (I was right). Compared to what I normally do on Saturday mornings (order egg sandwich and coffee delivery while tweeting about how Old I've gotten), this was a refreshing change of pace. I rewarded myself by purchasing two egg sandwiches, enjoying one leisurely on my walk home, and doing nothing for the rest of the day.
Sunday, Day 10
Another Sunday, another non-hungover morning. I went home again to Jersey, this time with my boyfriend in tow. He toasted my sobriety with a margarita. I was strong. I sipped tea. Look into my eyes. They are the eyes of a woman who can do it all.
Though my life didn't change drastically, here's the main way quitting drinking for a week in the summer impacted my life: I felt rich by the end of the second weekend. Normally, I have no money except for when I need to make a food and/or alcohol-related purchase, but it turns out that when I actually cut booze out of my budget, I saved at least $100, if not more. I also had way more energy. I hadn't gone out as much as I normally would've each weekend and I voluntarily exercised in my apartment instead of sipping booze in front of Netflix.
But the most surprising result was that I still had fun. I, a basic twentysomething, socialized without my wine for 10 whole days in the summer and lived to tell the tale. I discovered that I didn't need a drink, or even to get drunk, as much as I actually needed to just hold something in my hand while I was out. There was a sense of security to just having a cup of seltzer while everyone was drinking, which made me realize that maybe my warm weather wining was more of a force of habit than anything else. I'd gotten so used to it in my college years that I had a Pavlovian association between booze and fun. Once that was broken, I realized I only really, actually wanted a glass of rosé about half the time I poured myself one. I'm sure I'll have a drink tonight to celebrate my accomplishments, but it's nice to know that I could do without it.