This post was originally published on November 17, 2015.
I have lived in Los Angeles for just over 10 years and from the day I set foot in this city (or giant sprawling metropolis, rather), I’ve questioned whether I should be here. I decided to move with the vague notion of pursuing comedy but no clear purpose. I can’t really blame my uncertainty on lack of direction though. From the first year I lived here until very recently, I was in a constant state of turmoil about whether or not I should be doing what I’m doing and living where I’m living. Should I go to graduate school? Do I really like this city? Is it too expensive? Will I ever meet a guy who wants a commitment here?
I genuinely can’t recall a time when I was like, “Everything’s great! I’m right where I need to be!” I might have had brief stints here and there but they were very fleeting. When I was really early in my sobriety, I was lamenting this to a fellow sober person and she said something that really hit me: “Oh yeah, that’s just refusal to be in the present. Alcoholics all do that.” It was such a simple statement but it was like a damn light bulb illuminated in my still-hazy-from-the-booze red head. Shit. She was right. I always wanted to blame LA for my problems. But if I’d just moved to DC with all my college friends after graduation and tried to work at a law firm while applying to law school (yes, that was originally my plan A—snooze fest, I know), I’m sure I would have constantly asked myself, “Should I be in DC? Why was I too scared to move to LA and pursue comedy? If I don’t go now, I will always wonder.”
Thanks to putting down the damn bottle and, you know, dealing with my insides to figure out why I drank so much, my tendency to blame all my problems on LA has finally subsided. But I have to confess: I still fantasize about moving. The reasons have just changed. I love being alcohol-free. My life has improved drastically in numerous ways.
But sometimes I miss drinking.
I miss it despite knowing in my deepest gut I am severely allergic to it. And if I started again now, there are things at stake. There would be consequences greater than just a massive hangover and missing vehicle. Besides potentially destroying all the progress I’ve made spiritually, emotionally and physically, I would alienate a lot of people I’ve come to adore. Also, I’ve started addressing my sobriety in my stand-up act all over this fine city so me with a drink in hand on stage again would be awkward at the shows I frequent. It seems like taking up a wine habit just isn’t an option anymore.
So I dream about moving so I can drink again.
People call it “pulling a geographic” when you move and think that will solve all your problems but then you get to the new city and realize you still have the problems (alcoholism). Wherever you go, there you are—so clichéd but so freaking true. Well, some days, I still convince myself I could successfully pull a geographic and I’m almost 19 months sober. Here are the potential places/life paths I’ve decided would miraculously cure my alcoholism, in no particular order:
One fantasy is that I move to Denver, Colorado. I worked at a summer camp outside the city when I was in college and have loved it ever since. Maybe I’ll date a lawyer or grassroots politician there? I majored in political science; I love politics! I’d be a fantastic candidate’s wife and would drink with complete lady-like caution at every fundraiser. So I move there, date a well-respected public servant and no one ever has to know about that pesky drinking problem I once had in LA. Those days are long gone and we are sipping wine at the finest bars the Rocky Mountain State has to offer. Ski lodges with spiked hot chocolate galore. That will be the life.
Next up on the delusional relocation rotation? Somewhere with a river and lots of pretty scenery. Wyoming? Montana? Wyoming. I decide my true calling is to be a white water rafting instructor in Wyoming. I’m gonna be so outdoorsy and hard-core, I’ll simply be too tired to binge drink. Sure, I might have a homemade craft beer or two at home in the evening with my mountain man, fly-fishing, trail-hiking lover but it’ll be so artisan and crisp, there won’t be a need to overdo it. I will probably go off the grid here and quit all social media and check my email once a week. Maybe even get a flip phone. This way I can ease back into drinking without anyone from my previous life knowing. Then the next time I see someone from my former sober days, I can be like, “Turns out I wasn’t an alcoholic and I totally drink in moderation now! Crazy, huh?”
Or there’s always Austin, Texas. Okay, yes, one of my favorite things about Austin is (was) listening to music drunk on 6th Street but obviously I’m going keep it together when I live there. Because I’m a yoga teacher in this scenario. Core Power Yoga is like my church in LA and they have locations in Austin! I’ve always thought if writing and stand-up stops working out, I’ll teach yoga. Who wouldn’t want a former stand-up comedian as their yoga teacher? I’d be prolific and hilarious. Clearly I won’t be able to knock back that many Lone Stars when I’ve got a 6 am yoga sculpt class the next day. I’ll slowly swig one while watching the band, then head home early to my Southern-but-still-liberal boyfriend, like the classy, well-behaved broad that I am.
The final vision for my future non-alcoholic self is moving back to my hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Drinking is a sport there and you best be able to handle your liquor at social events because you will be drinking a lot of it. I could actually probably slug Grey Goose on the rocks while telling people I’m an alcoholic and they wouldn’t blink. That word isn’t really in the lexicon down there. Anyways, I’ll have a lot of catching up to do nailing down a husband, procreating and taking over the books at my father’s law firm so sleeping the day away hung over simply won’t be an option. Instead I’ll be looking forward to the daily 5 pm happy hour of cold chardonnay with my mother on her back patio, an occasion that will always end after a mere two glasses at a reasonable hour. The days of happy hours turning into multiple hours and multiple libations are long gone for this gal.
What’s that saying? The ability to drink normally is the obsession of every alcoholic? Ah yes, perhaps that applies here. I think about these moves then I play the tape forward—do I honestly think my attempts at moderation would be any different in this future lives I imagine for myself? I managed to get drunk all over this globe when I was still drinking. Multiple times.
Truthfully, if I ever move, the first order of business should be finding a local support system, be it SMART, 12-step or a Buddhist monastery. Because I don’t think my alcoholism will decide to stay in Los Angeles if I ever do leave.