This Is My Open Letter To The Former Love Of My Life, Vodka


Dear Vodka,

I am sorry that we don’t really see each other anymore.

I still think about you though. Like, for instance, just last night I was sitting in a bar, flipping the thin pages of a specialty cocktail menu. My eyes lingered on the Moscow Mule for a few seconds before I closed the booklet and ordered a Manhattan. Even though I think of you fondly, I’m not ready to go there again. And believe me, I think of you fondly.

I know we see each other around from time to time, mostly through mutual friends at parties. We’ll awkwardly have a run in at the fancy spigot carafe that only married people seem to own. You’ll be all dressed up in pink, maybe even with a strawberry hat accessory. We’ll be cordial. Half a glass, a few sips, and then we part ways. It’s not entirely awkward, but it’s not particularly enjoyable either, but what the hell do I expect from an ex?

Life now is so far from what it used to be for us. You probably think I feel like I’m too good for you, that I’ve grow out of our relationship, and maybe you’re right.

We’ve certainly come a long way since that kamikaze shot at my first Tridelta dance, haven’t we Vodka? I was only eighteen, so impressionable. My date Sean order you for me. He was a whole year older, already well versed in ordering mixed drinks. Also, he was in PIKE, a trustworthy fraternity. I was in good hands, even though he was terrible at kissing. Although you were masked behind the Triple Sec and lime juice, I knew this was the start of something. You made me feel so good; I ordered kamikaze shots the rest of freshman year.

I’ll be the first to admit, our relationship during my four years of higher education was anything but monogamous. I just wasn’t ready to settle down yet. Between dorm room temperature Southern Comfort and Coke, giant blended margaritas the size of my head from the local Mexican restaurant that happily accept fake I.D.’s, tequila body shots on Spring Break, flat keg beer, and my inexplicable obsession with ordering White Russians at a downtown LA pirate themed bar senior year…it left little quality time for the two of us.

In retrospect, I don’t think we ever really got close until after my formidable college years. Sure we hung out in the same circles, but it was never one on one. It was always in very mixed company: Sex and the City Cosmopolitans, a myriad of sticky juices, energy drinks, and overpowering sugary soda. Was that you hiding out in the frat party trash can juice that made me vomit? It was so hard to tell, but if you were part of that debacle, I accept your tacit apology. I know you meant well; you wanted me to have a good time.

The year after college was when we really started to understand each other. Vodka, soda, and Heather. The three amigos! You were my youth, my heyday, my glory days. You were my wingman for so many questionable twenty-two year old decisions. We were such tight bros.

Remember that time I had a giant martini on an empty stomach at the deserted bar in my small beachside hometown? Yeah, you do; I was staying at my mom’s house so I could hook up with that bartender from the restaurant I worked at on weekends. Remember how he had a girlfriend, and I was all like, “Whatever!” LOLZ. It was that night I went home with him for the umpteenth time to have sex and convince myself that he secretly loved me best. As we shakily walked back to his place, I kept saying, “I’m so drunk from that martini.” Remember that nonsense? I totally blamed you, and you took the fall like a goddamn champ.

Those were the good old days my friend. The Friday and Saturday nights that began with me wiggling my naivety to the front of the bar to expertly order a tall blueberry Stoli and soda, like I’d been doing it my whole damn life, like it was anything other than a clichéd recently legal LA girl beverage. A tall, I rationalized was just easier. Who wants to go back to the bar, I thought. UGH, SO OVER IT.

So many nights I came home, head spinning, swearing I was done with your forever. You made me feel out of control, and a little bit devious. I always woke up the next morning feeling a little more than upset with the both of us. 

Then one day, something changed. I had moved to Denver, Colorado, and while in the mountains one weekend was given free shots of Crown Royal at an empty mining town casino on a Sunday night. That was the end of us Vodka; I know it. I can pinpoint the moment the sweet, thick brown syrup slid down my throat. The moment my entire body felt warm and silly. I wanted to laugh and kiss everybody in my line of vision. What’s that Vonnegut quote everyone gets tattooed on their arm? “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” Yeah, it was like that.

Denver was an easy place for our breakup, an easy place to forget. It’s a hearty mountainous city filled with salt of the earth people who drank real drinks. None of this foufy LA shit anymore. When I went out for a drink, I WENT OUT FOR A MOTHER FUCKING DRINK. 

When I moved back to LA a year and a half later nothing changed for me. Even though I was back in the place where we met, I just didn’t feel the same way. It’s been a few years since I have been home now, and I’ve done a lot of growing up, thinking about where I am in my life and what you had meant to me.

With age and maturity comes nostalgia, and yes sometimes I backslide with a Bloody Mary, or a fruity mixed drink. But I always end up with a headache, from both the booze and the emotional triggers of a time when I was irresponsible, immature and not my best self.

So now, I exclusively order Old Fashioneds or Manhattans because I’m a smug late twenty-something asshole. Because I think I’m Peggy Olson. Because I don’t need to order a tall. Because I only need two drinks to get drunk. Because I don’t need to drink to prove anything. Because holding a drink in my hand is meaningless. Because I can afford them. Because they taste good and make me feel silly, without with the stupid. But mostly…mostly because they both come with a cherry.