The night began at the Shakesbeer Festival a few years ago at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
Dark beer combined with not eating much was obviously a terrible decision and the only thing saving me from getting hammered too fast was sitting through sporadic Shakespeare performances which helped prolong each drink.
After the last show, I bummed a cigarette and a light from a stranger.
I took a drag and blew smoke just as the tobacco started to burn my lungs.
“Where to next?” I asked my friend Marigold.
“Maybe we should go home,” she said.
I turn to her and scrunch my face.
“No way, let’s go dancing!”
She rolled her eyes and reluctantly walked with me to a club called, Eos two blocks away.
As soon as we arrive, I order drinks.
“I’m having so much fun!”
I say to her as my feet pound the floor and my arms wave in the air like I just don’t care.
“Maybe you should switch to water,” she says.
I shake my head then drunkenly dance solo to the dance floor.
About an hour passes and I am was–ted thanks to a few shots handed to me by people I don’t know.
I spot Marigold at the bar talking to a cute boy and stumble over.
The bartender was M.I.A. so I grab Marigold’s glass of water and gulped it down.
“Let’s go!” she says.
I ignore her plea and instead find a handsome black man who was on his way out the door.
I flirt a little and persuade him to stay.
Turns out he’s an engineer, a Stanford grad, a good catch.
I decided it was time for us to get to know each other better.
“He’s taking me home,” I shout to Marigold over the music.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she screams back.
Knowing you can never convince a drunk once they’ve made up their mind, she did the best thing she could do.
She interrogates my new friend for his name, number, and email then proceeds to take a photo of him holding his license for identification.
“Elizabeth, please be careful!” she said, grabbing my shoulders.
“I’m fine,” I said. “I’m fine.”
I don’t remember giving him directions but we made it home.
I know because I woke up the next morning with him naked in bed next to me.
Oh god, oh god, oh god.
Did we…do it?
I crawl out of bed, careful not to wake him, and go to the bathroom to figure out what the hell I’ve done.
I look in the mirror and a mess of a woman stares back at me.
Black eyeliner and orangey-red lipstick smeared across my dry, sallow skin.
I begin to cry and splash cold water on my face to mask my tears.
I pull it together as I wash my face, deciding to save the breakdown for after he leaves.
The gentleman wakes up as I open the bathroom door.
“Hey Beautiful,” he said.
Yeah, right, I think but give him a half smile instead.
He pulls on his pants and walks over.
His body is dark and smooth, his muscles sculpted like an Olympian.
“Now I don’t just hook up and disappear,” he said.
“I’ll call you and would love to take you out.”
I appreciated the gesture but knew this was merely a nice thing to say after a one-night stand.
I walked him to his car, a silver Mercedes SUV, and send him off.
For being a total wreck, I thought, I picked a smart man with a gorgeous body who seems to have his stuff together.
Looking on the bright side was the only way to soothe my self-inflicted suffering.
Especially since I couldn’t even remember his name.
Back inside, I hurry to the bathroom and turn on the shower.
I began to cry and shake so hard I had to sit on the bathtub floor to stable myself.
I couldn’t figure out if we actually had sex but the way my body reacted gave me the answer that was hard to face.
It took a while to get back to “normal” but slowly I forgave myself for that night.
It’s been almost two years since I’ve drunk alcohol.
And a lifetime is too short for another drink.