For the past three years, I have started the year off with a dry January, where as I have my last drink on New Years eve, watching the ball drop with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, then stop drinking altogether. The first year, it was just the month of January, last year, 2020, I started off with a dry January and February. Now this year, my New Years resolution is to go dry until the end of the current pandemic.
What end of the current pandemic means is up for interpretation, and to be honest, I haven’t really decided myself what that really means. Additionally, it’s really just a dry ending of the pandemic. Last year’s dry January – February 2020 had just ended when the pandemic shit hit the fan in March 2020. I have been drinking through the pandemic from March – December of 2020.
I have a couple of options to define end of pandemic. One convenient option is to call it when the bars of my home state Washington get reopened to normal capacity. Previously, the state had tried to reopen bars and restaurants at a reduced capacity. However as a Coronavirus cases soared because of people flaunting the rules, and let’s face it, people are idiots, myself probably included, bars and restaurants were shut down entirely to dine in service. Since drinking in bars is not an option due to the Governor’s orders, I would need to revert to drinking at home, which I have done plenty of times. However, drinking at home does make me feel like more of an alcoholic, which I am, I just don’t like to be faced with the reality of it in that way.
Another way to define end of pandemic is to wait until I am vaccinated. It appears from the data currently available that I will need to wait a few weeks from when I get my second shot before I would actually acquire immunity. Being that I am a generally healthy person in his mid 40’s, who is not an essential worker, or work in a position that would make me high risk, I am likely low in the vaccine pecking order. Given our government can’t even get the distribution to essential health care workers correct, which should be the easiest part of the vaccination campaign, I don’t have much faith that I would reach this definition of vaccination before August of 2021, if even then.
So using either definition of end of pandemic, I will likely wind up going dry this year until at least August, as it is unlikely that the bars will be open to normal capacity before the vast majority of the population, including myself, receives the vaccine.
So now I am looking at a dry January – August 2021 (or later), which means I am now entering the third week of what will likely be the longest I have gone without alcohol since I became an adult.
This shouldn’t be concerning since nobody actually needs alcohol to survive. However, my prior experience has taught me that I am an alcoholic. Perhaps I am just a minor degree of alcoholic, after all, I have already made it through dry January 2019, and dry January – February 2020, as well as planning a dry January 2021- whenever, so I should be able to stop any time I want, right?
I can and currently have stoped drinking, but it doesn’t really make me want to drink any less. This afternoon, rather than going to a bar, I ate an entire small pizza for lunch. Although pizza is generally not considered addictive, and doesn’t lead to the kinds of social problems, broken relationships, etc, that drinking can cause, like drinking eating an entire pizza for lunch consistently can have its own health issues. It seems as if I am engaging in unhealthy behaviors to handle my pandemic anxiety/depression.
In this third weekend of not drinking, I still feel that desire to get a drink. Last year, one of the first things I did at the end of my dry February was head to the bar and get a drink. Although I am currently not drinking, that desire to drink is just below the surface pestering me to head out to the bodega and get a couple of drinks.
I have also tried the ‘just one or two drinks’ approach when going out. Well, depending on how long I have to drink that can quite easily become three, four, or five drinks drinks.
In March of last year, everything changed, my workplace went remote, and getting out to the bars, or to the bodega for beer runs on weekends was really my only trip out of the house, besides the occasional lunch time trip to the neighborhood burrito bus. Now that I am not drinking, I have no reason to leave the house whatsoever. My wife, who is also working from home through the pandemic, has reverted to taking walks through the neighborhood as her way to get out of the house. I generally can’t join her because I have various conference calls in the late morning early afternoon that I need to attend to. However, maybe it is a good idea to get out and take a walk around the neighborhood when I can, even if I don’t have a destination. Perhaps this is a healthier way to deal with pandemic depression.
Prior to 2020, my wife and I would generally go hang out in bars a couple nights a week, where we would typically have a couple of drinks with bar food. At one point, when my wife and I first started living together in her old apartment, we would do this just about every night. At the time, I did not view this as problematic. We didn’t really have much of a kitchen in that apartment, so where were we supposed to eat? We lived just a couple of blocks from the bars we went to, and were walking home. Sure, we were drunks, but we were silly drunks.
Going to the bar for drinks after work then was for me just a response to another workday, and a way to get food. Once we moved to our current place, a bit further away from the bars, and with an actual kitchen so we could make our own food, we would once or twice a week continue to go to the bars downtown, before getting on the train back home.
Prior to meeting my wife, going back to the early 2010’s, I would generally head to the bar on Saturday or Sunday night for dinner and 4 to 6 PBR’s before walking or Uber-ing back home. I started the 2010’s by changing jobs and moving from Chicago to Seattle, where I didn’t know anyone. Additionally, my wife at that time decided not to join me in Seattle, so I was also going through a divorce. Looking back, this is probably when my drinking first became a problem.
Drinking was initially initially a way for me to deal with anxiety/depression, which has been amplified in the era of being locked down. Now that I am not drinking from January to TBD, I need an alternate way to deal. Hopefully something better than pizza.
Eventually the TBD in dry January to TBD will happen, we will be vaccinated, and the Coronavirus will fade out of the headlines. We will resume traveling again, and I will most likely resume weekend drinking, at least until January next year. Until then, I will stick with coffee and pizza to deal.