I’ve spent the last six months a scuba diver, reentering the atmosphere slowly from the depths of bottomless mimosas. I was running out of air and it was time to resurface despite the insidious protests from my anxiety. Dryland had bright lights, people, problems, memories. The bottom of the ocean was dark and quiet and heavy like a weighted blanket.
I knew it was time to come back because I had just finished two bottles of wine on my own as my toddler kneeled on the couch watching a movie, when I lit the house on fire. Well, the porch. Before you get all judgmental on me, you should know that they were expensive wines, white wines — so I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Check every popular movie, tv-show, and all the wino mommy memes, they’d back me up.
The next morning I dug my fingers into the sandbox of memories from the night before and recalled the steaks. How, in my tipsiness, I’d left them on the grill until they were burnt into tiny lumps of coal, fueling flames that eventually melted half the grill and escaped onto the porch. How my husband and I had run, laughing, to put out the hungry reds and yellows that tried to flee from beneath the towels.
Once the flames were out I turned around and made eye contact with my son. So much bigger now than the infant I remember, but still so young, his face soft and pudgy. He was watching me from his chair, snuggled up with his blankie, reading me to make sure everything was okay. I smiled at him. “Sheesh, that was a close one! Good thing mommy and daddy are great at putting out fires!” He smiled back and his eyes drifted once again to the television.
The next day I rolled the previous evening around in my mind — rewinding, fast-forwarding, assessing the damage — my stomach grumbled uneasily, complaining about the hangover it would have to endure all day. Shitshitshit. I couldn’t keep doing this. What had started as a way to relax a bit during the pandemic had turned into something different. Something darker.
I picked up my son as he clung to his blankie and marched him down to the beach on my shoulders. I told him I was going to stop drinking wine. I said it out loud to him so that I couldn’t go backward, couldn’t change my mind when the sun went down and my hangover subsided.