The Lush Who Was

My name is Caroline, and I’m a lush. (“Hi Caroline” echoes the imaginary room.)
At least, I used to be one.

During many a recent dinner, I’ve been called out for not drinking (“not drinking” = limiting consumption to one glass, maybe two). That alone is nothing of note; but when you look at it in the context of me being a girl who could previously keep up with (and often outdo) her male counterparts, it’s curious that this former heavyweight will sometimes go entire restaurant meals without alcohol.

The behavioral change goes back approximately 18 months ago, when I decided I absolutely needed to hop on a plane and do some extensive traveling. I knew I wouldn’t be earning any income while out globetrotting, so I needed to start saving. What easier way than to cut back on $9 cocktails and pricier glasses of wine?

It was like a subconscious dimensional shift. The almost nightly dinners and drinks became something I could look forward to on the weekends. l ceased to be a celebrity with local restaurateurs and bartenders, but that was OK. I started being more conservative in my spending habits overall. I became cured of unnecessary shopping habits. I stopped “needing” yet another pair of shoes. It’s as if, before I’d even fully made up my mind to go, some part of me had already begun saving up to compensate for my impending unemployment. (It ended up being a shorter leave-of-absence, but it did the trick).

IMG_6855I don’t mean to make it sound like an overnight change. It wasn’t. I merely began cutting back on alcohol enough that my tolerance began to drop, which in turn discouraged me from drinking more, which lowered my alcohol tolerance even further, which further discouraged me from drinking.

Coincidentally, consuming fewer sugar-riddled beverages (and the associated desserts and fried goodies and all those fat-laden plates of deliciousness that restaurants love to serve) resulted in my clothes fitting better. It also resulted in a less-active social life. I didn’t become a recluse, but I did realize that my social calendar began thinning with every new outing I turned down. Not that I was ever a huge party animal, but you can imagine that spare change and nightly binges didn’t –don’t– go hand in hand. At that point in time, my priority was the spare change. Travel, or bust!

In the end, I’ve found a happy balance. I still splurge on dinners and drinks, albeit much less frequently; but, I’m equally content to stay home and read a book or do some housekeeping, no longer itching to always be flitting about. It’s probably better that I don’t eat and drink my way into oblivion anyhow. I’ve faded into the sunset among the more fair-weather friends (sad, but for the better), and I’m investing more time in the relationships that do matter. I rely less on alcohol to add that “extra fun” factor – and while drinking (responsibly, of course) is still enjoyable, I’ve found that there is plenty of fun to be had without it.