Another day at the office. It was only 11am and I’d already responded to all my e-mails. Aside from a 2pm meeting, I had nothing pressing to do for the rest of the day. My years in this job made me so efficient that I only needed a fraction of what I used to take up when I first started as an impressionable, enthusiastic go-getter.
I proceeded to read the latest news in my industry—higher education—then checked YouTube for the latest trending music videos. Why do the most popular ones have to be so crappy?
When the clock struck 5pm, I packed my belongings, left the building and walked to my car, feeling the warmth on my skin from the afternoon golden sun. I listened to the rhythm of my black kitten heels scrape against the asphalt of the parking lot as I jangled my car keys in my hands. I felt exhausted. I was barely productive for most of the day yet had no energy to do anything else–boredom was a big culprit of fatigue.
I did not want to sit in my car for an hour to head home during rush-hour traffic so I sent a message to my friend K and asked her if she wanted to have a drink. “Yes please!” she responded with enthusiasm.
I met K at The Kino, a cute café on Cambie street. They had great flamenco on Wednesdays. When I walked in, I heard the musician strumming his guitar, the strings telling a story in musical notes, and I pictured myself somewhere, Seville perhaps. The dancer graced the stage with her bright red dress, its’ ruffled ends and printed black polka dots. Her hair was pushed back into a slick bun and her deep red lipstick was seductive yet demure.
Our server approached our table and K and I chose to split a pitcher of Sangria. It was a refreshing option for a balmy Vancouver summer evening. When it arrived, I took my first sip and felt the cool, fruit-infused red wine travel down my throat.
I never liked the taste of alcohol. It was one of the reasons I didn’t drink until my mid-20s– in addition to the Muslim shame. I only started drinking because I dated an alcoholic. We had nothing in common but an undeniable attraction and the consumption of copious amounts of vodka was the only way we could enjoy our time together. I do not recommend this misguided strategy to relate to your partner. I thank God every day that I didn’t fall into alcoholism, especially when one considered my addictive tendencies. As the years went by though, I developed an appreciation for certain bevvies, preferring those that didn’t completely ruin my digestive system.
We all knew that alcohol was a double-edged sword, and I wasn’t the exception to think otherwise. But we all drank for different reasons. I was living a very comfortable, boring life, and a comfortable life was procrastination’s fuel. So while some of us watched trashy TV and ate too many spoonfuls of ice-cream, some of us drank, especially when we needed to silence the voice that told us we needed to do something more productive with our free time. That voice was even harsher when it came to produce creative work.
At first, the alcohol in my empty stomach made me anxious, and I allowed myself a brief pity party. I wish I were brave enough to get on that stage and dance like her. My creativity was stuck. It was always thinking of ways to get out but I didn’t let it. I became stressed and afraid. I knew a brilliant artist friend who remained stagnant for months and then– in a burst through the entrance of inspiration– got to work three days before her deadline, producing some of the best shit you’d ever seen. But at least she knew her process. Mine didn’t even get to the front door. I kept watching the dancer, jealous of her bravado.
I took another sip and now felt the wine travel to my brain. Shortly after, I started to feel good. It was the coveted sweet spot between being sober and not-yet-drunkenness. I felt inspired. I can do that too! With a burst of inspiration, I decided then that I was going to fly to Seville for a month to learn flamenco! I let myself dream: I imagined walking the cobblestone streets that led to the main square of Seville. Seville has cobblestone streets, right? And a square too?; I pictured meeting a handsome Spaniard for tapas and afterwards, listening to guitars and the tapping sounds made by the dancer’s heels as we roamed the square, walking in the beautiful moonlight during a warm Andalusian night.
The music enhanced my feeling of tipsiness. I felt the instruments’ sounds; the singer’s voice attuned me closer to my emotions; the rhythm, words and melodies synchronized to create an audible happy place. My heartbeat synced with the guitar’s increased strumming.
But just as it quickly came, it went away. I sobered up. I wanted the happy, fuzzy feeling to stay because it gave me the courage to dream, to believe that everything was really going to be okay. I’m going to quit my job!
I drank another glass of sangria, unaware that I was getting drunker than I intended to. Pacing was always a problem for me; intellectually I knew that more alcohol was futile. But judgment eluded me, throwing itself out the window.
While I had introverted tendencies, I also discovered alcohol’s ability to make me a tad more social. I immensely enjoyed chit chat with people I had amazing, platonic chemistry with– liquid courage in its’ most charming form.
A cool breeze entered the café after the server opened the large windows, allowing the music to entice those passing by on the street. The café became louder as sunset transitioned into night, with the patrons livening as alcohol flowed and candles were lit on the old, wooden, brown tables. The dancer’s tapping speed increased with the acoustics bouncing off the walls. In my drunken haze, I was pretty sure I saw Zorro and mentioned this to K. She nodded and started laughing hysterically.
We finished the pitcher and I realized– too late– that I was too drunk to drive so I had to catch the Skytrain home. It was going to be a long trip, and it wasn’t even to go to Seville.