by: Aby Go
Hi, I’m Aby and I’m not an alcoholic. However, by the time this article gets published I will be 120 days sober. I had my last sip of alcohol on New Year’s Eve. A full 15 minutes before the clock turned twelve. The idea to stop drinking came to me the moment I decided to move back permanently to Manila from Madrid in November of 2020. The clean slate in Manila and beginning of a new year offered an opportunity to cultivate fresh habits and quit old ones — including the dreadful drinking habit I picked up in Spain.
You see, I had been living in Madrid for the last couple of years where I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful selection of fine but affordable Spanish wine, beers, and cocktails that fuelled its drinking culture. Drinking is a normal part of everyday life in Spain and Spanish people are known for being marathon drinkers who are able to drink throughout the day. An afternoon lunch could turn into a whole day affair where one would often find themselves drinking before the meal, during the meal, and even after a meal.
Quite frankly, it didn’t take too long for me to get used to this. I enjoyed drinking and I found it amazing to live in a country where it was considered normal to drink anytime of the day. I felt comfortable to have a glass of wine while out for lunch with my boss and coworkers. I didn’t mind sitting alone in a terrace by myself with a glass of cold beer or my usual Rueda Verdejo as I waited for friends or dates or just wanted to kill time. A bottle or two of my favorite wine was a fixture in my grocery list. Back in Manila, I only drank on Friday nights with friends to cap off a grueling week or to celebrate special occasions.
Much of my social life in Madrid involved alcohol that there wouldn’t really be anything left to do if I didn’t drink. Often times a night out would start drinking beers at a nearby pub and finish downing chupitos and stumbling out of a club at 6AM. While I always managed to get myself home safely, I was never spared from the hangover that lasted days. On days when I wasn’t painting the town red, I would play football with my group or running with my guy — but even that ends up with tapas and canas at our barrio bar. Alcohol was also a badly needed social glue on dates that I can count with my two hands the number of times I ended a date completely sober.
In Madrid, I drank with friends, I drank when I was alone, I drank when I was happy, and I drank when I was sad…