If you’ve been following my blog since at least August, you know I recently turned 21. That means I’m at the age where I can legally drink. While I’ve never been interested in going out and getting drunk, I do find alcohol fascinating. Beer doesn’t sound good to me, but wine intrigues me. I’ve tried about 5 different kinds since August, trying to find what I like. (So far, moscato is my favorite, and I guess chardonnay would be second.) Mixed drinks also fascinate me, but liquor is more expensive than wine, and I’m too intimidated to order one at a restaurant. I will eventually. Maybe when I look less like a fourteen-year-old.
But intimidation is not the only thing holding me back. I know virtually nothing about drinking, because almost none of my family drinks. My dad grew up in upstate New York, the first child of a pastor. I’m pretty sure my grandparents have never drank — at least, I assume that’s part of the reason my dad has no interest in it. The Bible say somewhere that getting drunk is a sin, so it’s just easiest to stay away from alcohol completely. Plus, it is pricey, so I get that. I do admire my dad for staying away from it, too, because he spent four years in the Marines, and if that’s not an alcohol-infused culture, I don’t know what is.
My mom’s side of the family is a little bit of a different story. If my dad’s side is the white-picket-fence stereotype, my mom’s is the opposite. I’ve had to piece together the details as I’ve gotten older, but I know alcohol was a big factor in my grandparents’ divorce. I also know that the divorce and the events surrounding it deeply affected my mom and her three older sisters, and some of their life circumstances now are a direct result of turning to alcohol to cope. My mom doesn’t drink because she’s seen the ugly effects of it.
Both my parents would rather me not drink at all. Family history, plus religious beliefs, plus the fact that I’m pretty small makes them a little nervous. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tiny bit nervous at times, too. There are just so many things that could go wrong.
But I’m responsible by nature. I am (or try to be) all about balance. So I’ve been careful. I only buy a bottle of wine about once every 2.5 or 3 weeks, and I make my bottles last. When I have a glass of wine, I just have one. I make sure I’ve eaten something beforehand and that I won’t be driving till much later. I even try to only drink when I’m already in a good mood, so I won’t be dependent on it as a pick-me-up.
I’m afraid that as a get more comfortable with alcohol, I will relax these standards. I’m afraid I’ll be tempted to see how far I can go. I have an irrational fear of throwing up, and this is the only time it comes in handy — I know I’ll never get drunk enough to vomit because I’m terrified of it. But I hope that’s never all that stops me from having that second (or, God forbid, third or fourth) drink. I’ve asked my boyfriend, who drinks even less than me, to keep me accountable.
And this is not all to say that I think you’re an idiot or irresponsible if you drink more than I do, or go out to get drunk. That’s your decision. All I know is that I need to be careful with alcohol, probably more than most people. But I also know that even though I need o stay cautious, I’m really excited about exploring all the things humans do with alcohol. It’s one of the only completely universal things, and every culture has its own special relationship with it. I’m excited to learn. But for now, I’ll just stick to researching the cheap grocery store wines that I pick up on a whim.
As someone with an unfortunate level of experience with this topic, I think you’re being wise but possibly overthinking. My medical doctor once told me that alcohol is, for humanity, a gift and a curse. I couldn’t agree more. For many, alcohol is a treat that can be enjoyed responsibly, and for others (like me) it causes too many problems to continue using. I believe there is some programming in our makeup that determines which group we’re in. It doesn’t seem to me like you’re in the trouble group, but vigilance is important. By the time I 21, I had an unmanageable list of stupid drinking stories behind me that should have served as my clue that I needed to make some changes. That it took me 30 more years is just depressing.
Don’t be afraid to let your hair down, but make sure you don’t trip on it.
I do tend to overthink, so that’s definitely good advice to keep in mind. I try to have balance in all areas, including this one :)