Dry January / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 30 days I’ll be posting 500 words a day as part of a creative writing challenge. You can join the fb group here. **

On New Year's Eve I drank almost five glasses of champagne between roughly 8:00 p.m. and midnight. I only had to walk around the block to get home, but I woke up the next morning, remembered at least a couple of stupid things I had said to people I had only just met and would otherwise prefer to see again, and felt compelled to make a change.  Or a semblance of effort.

In sixth grade I did a book report on drug and alcohol abuse and if I learned only one thing it was this: marijuana is a gateway drug. I think I also read that normal alcohol consumption shouldn’t exceed two drinks a night, but honestly, I’m a little vague on that last one.  Even still, in the decades following that ambitious book report, medical opinion has evolved, while my own measuring stick has remained repressed, er, calibrated at a fourteen-drink a week maximum threshold, which, let’s be honest, is a lot of booze for a small-framed woman.

Here is a partial list of rules that govern when and how much I can drink:

  • No more than 8 or so drinks a week.
  • No more than 8 or so drinks a week, unless there are multiple work events.
  • You may always drink on a plane. It’s your reward for traveling, which is hard.
  • Always follow drinking on a plane with equal drinks water, because hydration.
  • Is there dancing? Yes? You should drink.
  • No drinking on a cleanse.
  • Is it noon yet? Mimosa.
  • Are you meeting someone new? Two drink minimum.

That last one was the proverbial cherry in the old fashioned, if you will.  Waking up on New Year’s Day, I wondered if not regretting dumb stuff I’d said could have a larger effect than just the absence of cringing. So I tiptoed into the new year resolving to find out.

I set my initial sight at a week, because I value pragmatism over most things, save humor. In truth, the thought of a dry week sent me into a minor panic spiral, but nothing screams PROBLEM louder than panicking about not drinking for seven days, and I had a point to prove. Fortunately the first week went by easily, and so I started on a second week. Now, rounding into my third week, I’m feeling pretty confident. I have now made it half the month without drinking and I like the way I feel. I may have coupled it with cleaner eating, so this isn’t exactly a controlled experiment, but so far, so good.

This morning one of my best friends invited me to a party at the end of the month. “Btw,” she texted, “you can drink all you want. I’ll be your DD. Dry January,” she said. “Me too,” I answered.  It’s probably the smartest thing I’ve said in a while.