Alcohol is pure sex. Frosted white wine splashing between your lips. A smooth green bottle, snug in your dancing hand. The spitfire sweet of a straw sucked liqueur. The luscious punch of ice shrapnel between teeth, a slush of lemon and gin anointing your smoky throat. Alcohol lubricates your gasping mind. Oils your dancing bones. Fuels your childlike craziness. Alcohol is the slinky DJ at the decks of your brain, fading your inner monologue and amping up the joy. Alcohol is your dear, dear friend. Wild and reliable. The champagne spray that christened your adulthood will also toast your passing.

As a teenager it was like cordial 2.0. This thing called beer that came in smooth blue cylinders. Charisma in a can! Like Popeye I could crack the top open and swallow one whole. As I opened my eyes the grimy rumpus room became disco spectacular. Faces seemed friendly, my jokes were ripe and my head filled with shampoo scents and creamy skin. With my fuzzy meters maxed out I could allow my curious hands to creep under tops and find soft beating chests. Childhood was gone and with this grown-ups drink in me I had found my footing.

By University my friends and I were worshipping alcohol weekly. We’d drain the glass batons and erect a shrine on the coffee table, lighting the cigarette lamps. If there was an art to this miracle drink we wanted to perfect it. With the upchuck of high school behind us, we synchronised our intoxication, erupting into pokie room dance routines, psychedelic singalongs and uncommissioned public transport pantomimes. Alcohol gave us giddy-sweet paper wings to fly high above society.

Hangovers happened. I’d awake with a gum sealed face and a vacuum cleaner emptied out on my head. But with a girlfriend to snuggle and a high-fivin’ greasy breakfast with friends it could be laughed off with the bravado of a scun knee from a bike trick. After a shower and video i’d be back on my feet, licking a bourbon to take the edge off. This was a time when my footprints were still on the edge of introspection.

Alcohol started running out of tricks in my mid-twenties. With the bubble of uni burst I was flat broke in big cities. I had my first time getting drunk by myself. On a Saturday night I flicked through photos while red wine sat by my side and watched me like a cat. Alcohol wasn’t lifting me up but had its arm around me. With my performer friends we’d still drink like professionals and laugh jaded at the sunrise, but some ingredient was missing. In 2004 my Uncle was struck and killed by a train. Booze had been his second skin, and he’d been overflowing with it when he’d passed out on the tracks. Novelty smashed like a bottle in the night.

Humans are strange really. We use stimulants to relax and depressants to have a good time. I’ve watched alcohol rust away the goodness in those I love. I’ve seen my family ride it like cowboys and tumble into darkness, only to have no memory the next morning. In a year when I’ve been at my happiest and saddest I can no longer take it for granted. It’s a drug with side-effects that I take to feel better about myself. So many nights I feel like I’m going through the same slow motions. I don’t get the rush I used to while the hangovers grow more unbearable. What used to be a headache is now an emotional shit-storm that opens the doors to my sadness I’ve worked so hard to close. It poisons my sleeping and takes Viking swings at my bank account. The world’s standard issue social elixir is failing me. I don’t know how many chances I can keep giving it or how many it deserves.