I knew it as soon as I woke up the next morning. It wasn't the first time it happened to me, after all. I wracked my brain for memories from the previous day — an afternoon spent vineyard-hopping through Newport, beers back at the Airbnb, shots as we got ready to hit the bars... And that's where the memories ended. I had blacked out, and though I'd had regrettable blackouts before, this time was different, because it was a once-in-a-lifetime weekend: It was my bachelorette weekend. I don't remember my bachelorette party, and that's because I blacked out and have zero memories of the first night.
I didn't mean to black out, and I've never gone into a night with the intention of doing that. It just happens sometimes. I start drinking and feeling giddy, and I think, "Another drink will only make me feel even better, right?" So I have another drink. And then another. And then suddenly, a dark curtain is drawn over my inhibitions, my judgment, and my memories, and the fun is over. The weekend of my bachelorette party was supposed to be a celebration of my exciting future, but instead, it almost feels like I missed out on my own party.
That next morning I checked my phone first for incriminating Instagram Stories or Snapchats, but nothing had been posted or sent. I exchanged the eye contacts I'd left in the night before for glasses and washed my face. Then, I headed into the common area where I could hear my friends' voices, steeling myself for the annoyance and anger and humiliating stories that were to come.
But they didn't. Everyone seemed happy to see me, and we went to brunch, where my friends recounted funny moments from the night before. I said just enough so that I didn't draw attention to myself. Of course, I had no idea what they were talking about. While they laughed about the scavenger hunt we'd apparently played the night before — they convinced strangers to leave voicemails on my then-fiancé's phone — I nursed my coffee and willed myself not to get sick. It wasn't just the hangover that was making me feel so ill — it was the shame. As I looked at the phone screens passed around the table and scrolled through pictures, I could barely believe the woman in those pictures — standing in a bar that I'd never seen before, drinking drinks I didn't remember ordering — was me.
Sure, I was relieved that I didn't humiliate myself. It could have been far worse. I could have even kept up the ruse, as my friends didn't even seem to realize the extent of my drunkenness the night before. But eventually, I took one of my friends aside and confessed: The hours between getting ready for the bar and waking up in my bed were gone. My friend tried to console me. "That just means you did your bachelorette party right," she said.
Did I do my bachelorette party right? Up until the time my memories stopped forming, I'd been having a great time. Those photos from the bar that I didn't remember taking seemed to show a woman who was having the time of her life. Before the weekend began, the idea that I had in my head of the quintessential bachelorette party certainly entailed wild excess, so I had gotten what I wanted, right? Except... it felt wrong. It wasn't enough to see the photos and videos — I wanted to remember all of those moments for myself. And now they were gone.
When people ask about my bachelorette party, I always say, "It was so much fun!" Because how can I tell everyone that I had ruined it for myself? I won't get another bachelorette party, and I can't forgive myself for squandering the weekend my friends spent so much time and money to make special.
And though I can't undo what I did, I can learn from it. On my wedding day, I nursed a single glass of wine throughout the entire night. "Is that still your first glass?" my friends asked me. "Drink more! Take shots!" But I didn't. I wanted to remember every moment of my wedding day, from the sight of my dog in his tuxedo running around the cocktail hour with a piece of chicken in his mouth, to rocking out to a '90s cover band with my friends and family on the dance floor. This time, I didn't miss a single thing.