Things I like: a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc just about any evening, a crisp IPA on a sunny patio, creative cocktails with a vodka base, mulled wine by a fireplace on a chilly night. I like catching up with friends in trendy bars, secret speakeasies, laid-back pubs. I like to sip a glass of wine after a long day.
Namely, I enjoy a drink. I don’t drink every day, or every weekend, but it’s rare that a week goes by (especially in New York City) without a glass of wine or a weekend without a vodka-cran. I love the social scene in the city, but drinks don’t come cheap and mornings aren’t easy: when nights don’t usually start until 11 p.m. and the dance floors don’t shut down until 5 a.m. (and the subway runs all night), my weekends are often nocturnal and a massive drain on my wallet.
It’s not a lifestyle that I embrace when I’m traveling. I’m not comfortable drinking much when I’m traveling by myself in a new city. Backpacker “heavens” with cheap drinks and all-night parties don’t tempt me. But in New York, I have friends and a life to build–and that means birthdays, event openings, live shows and endless reasons to go out.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been wanting to do an alcohol-free month. But there always seemed to be an excuse: a birthday, a going-away party, the entire season of summer calling for a cold beer.
Instead of celebrating the New Year with girlfriends in San Francisco, I ended up switching my flight to red-eye into New York City on New Year’s Eve (I needed an extra day to sort out moving before I go back into the office). While I’ll surely be groggy, I’ll be waking up (for the second year in a row–last year I flew into Bali!) without a hangover on New Year’s Day.
And so if not now, then when? So I won’t be drinking for the month of January. Part of it is just to challenge myself: can I resist the peer pressure, the social culture I’ve built around alcohol, the urge to sink into a glass of wine after a hard day? Another significant part is financial: the money I’m spending on drinks could go to making my new apartment into a beautiful space that inspires and relaxes me. There’s also the health issue: what’s the good of eating well and doing yoga every weeknight if I’m just going to binge on drinks and greasy food on the weekends? And, to be fair, I hate waking up with half the day gone with a massive headache and an empty wallet: I’m naturally a morning person, but not even waking up to natural sunlight can rouse me after I’ve been dancing until dawn.
So instead I’ll be waking up early Saturday mornings to paint my room, to go thrifting for furniture gems, maybe to squeeze in a run across the Williamsburg Bridge. I’ve got a volunteer orientation one Sunday, a knife skills course another: putting my 2013 resolutions into action. There are museums to visit, cafes to curl up in with a coffee and a copy of The New York Times. I’ll still be catching up with friends on Friday and Saturday nights–but maybe over homemade lasagne or baking cookies instead of a bar.
Cheers to 2013–with a sparkling water and lime, of course!
Have you ever had an alcohol-free month? What were the challenges and benefits?