Pure Orange Extract
My Alcohol Anthology:
Early 20s, Wine Coolers
Mid 20s, Chilled Black Sambuca Shots (aka “The Piss Off Your Bartender”)
Late 20s, White Russians
Early 30s, Vodka Cran with Lime
Mid 30s, “A Dirty Martini and make it dirty enough to be dinner.”
Late 30s, White Wine
July 10, 2008, Pure Orange Extract
My fourth pregnancy came to an unjust and abrupt halt on July 11, 2008, the date of my D&C. From my post: “The surgery is scheduled and I drink and drink and drink.” A late bloomer, I drank in my 20s to experiment and become part of the social fray. I drank in my 30s for unabashed good time fun. By the time I hit my late the 30s and the crushing world of recurrent pregnancy loss, I drank mostly to forget.
The day before my surgery I started drinking during lunch – for lunch. It was summer and it was hot so I was drinking white wine. I cleaned the house and knowing I’d be out of commission for a couple of days post-op, I cooked a large batch of egg curry. The irony of boiling eggs was not lost on me so to get through that task I drank more. Pretty soon I was out of wine but with several hours yet to kill I walked to the liquor store. Stock replenished, I kept at it, punctuating each refill with a cigarette. I was good and drunk but I couldn’t forget about tomorrow. I couldn’t stop crying about tomorrow and it felt like no amount of wine was going to change that.
It was not the first time I looked curiously at the bottle of pure orange extract, bought for what baking purpose I have no idea. The label boasted a 61% alcohol content. I’d only need a swig. I desperately wanted out of that D&C. I desperately wanted out of my life. Desperate enough to drink pure orange extract.
I blacked out on my bed, miraculously. When I woke I was panic-stricken – did I leave the bottle out? – Kris! – would he see it? Sick, I downed a liter of water immediately, ignoring the doctor’s instructions to abstain prior to surgery. My breath reeked of a chemical, plastic, orange taste. My head throbbed. My stomach lurched. Despite the pain and shame, it felt right to be in such a state on that unholy D&C day. I was glad to be sick; I wished I was dead.
That was my last dalliance with drinking baking ingredients. I didn’t stop drinking all together until I was pregnant with Arlo and I have not had alcohol since. When Arlo came and motherhood shook me to the core, I needed every faculty to care for my child. I don’t know anyone who parents drunk but I know plenty of people who parent hung over. I don’t know how to do that so I don’t.
Doing the math, it has been more than four years since I’ve been drunk. Now if I sit too close to someone drinking red wine at dinner I get a contact high. A glass of anything would render me imbecile. I suppose there will come a day when I enjoy a beautiful hot sake with sashimi, tequila on the rocks during our trip to Oaxaca or champagne to christen the new back patio. Those days will come to pass and I welcome them, even look forward to them because I won’t drink to forget anymore. I will be present for it all.