"One more round?" Jeremy pointed at the empty glasses.
"None for me, thanks, I'm going to take off here in a second." Rebeccah picked up her phone from the table to drop in her bag.
"You always bail so early! Come on the night is just getting started!"
Rebeccah smiled at her friend Allison. "Not for me. The night is just winding down for me. But you all have fun."
Greg leaned back in his chair, "There is no convincing her. Trust me. She always leaves early. Two drinks, done by 11. I've never seen her vary. Unless it's one drink and done by 10."
Allison looked at her phone. "Well it's only 10:30 you still have a half hour. So share your story. Why the early leaver? Why the limits? I know you aren't an alcoholic because," with that Allison waved toward the martini glass in front of Rebeccah, "and I know you aren't an early to bed person because I've see you online answering work emails at 1 AM. So what gives?"
"Just a choice I make. No real reason."
"Please, there is nothing you do that doesn't have a reason. You are the most methodical person I've ever worked with. So spill." Greg checked his phone, "You have 25 minutes to tell your story."
Rebeccah sighed, "Fine, but please understand this sounds a little preachy and it's not my intention. Keep in mind that you asked."
Jeremy nodded. "We did. Now go."
"Okay, you want to know why I leave; why do you stay? What is your number one reason for staying out when I go home?"
Allison shrugged her shoulders, "I'm not ready to go home I guess."
Jeremy shook his head, "Easy, I don't want to miss anything."
Rebeccah pointed at Jeremy, "Ding, ding, ding. You don't want to miss anything. That's was always my reason as well. It would surprise you to know I used to be the last one to leave. Every single time. I was the rally girl. The one you could always count on for one more round, for one more go. I couldn't imagine leaving because I might miss something. Until Hawaii."
"Friends from college were getting married in Hawaii. A group of us all went. It turned in to a mini-reunion wedding party drunk fest extravaganza. Lots of late nights drinking on the beach sharing stories followed by wedding brunches and family meet and greets and hangovers beaten back by more Mai Tais.
Now part of why they planned their wedding in Hawaii was because there was going to be one of those 'once in a lifetime' moments coinciding with the date. There was a full lunar eclipse happening, and because of the time and where Hawaii is the apex of the eclipse would happen right as the moon was setting and the sun was rising. So there would be this moment where the shadow of the moon is there and the darkness hits then the sun rises and lights the sky again."
"Yes, awww, great symbolism. And a great view from the top of the volcano. Which meant getting up at 4 AM to catch the shuttle bus to the base of the hiking trail and then a half hour hike up to the spot to meet the bride and groom and the small group of us that were going to start the day with them. Their day. The beginning of their new life."
Jeremy made a face, "Oh I see where this is going."
"Yes, you do. So the night before a group of us decide to grab one quick drink before heading back to get to bed early. One drink turns in to two turns in to three, but I'm really going to leave. So around midnight I say my goodbyes and head to my room. But as I head down the hallway from the party room back to mine I think to myself that I don't want to miss anything so I turned around and went back. The next morning I missed the shuttle bus. I missed the hike. I missed the moment. The one thing that I could never actually get back, I missed."
"Ouch." Greg made a pained face, "But it happens right?"
"It does. And I realized that it happened to me a lot more than I was comfortable with. Every decision you make means you miss other things. Staying at the party until the end means you miss those hours of sleep, the sunrise the next morning, not being hungover for half of your day. For what? For a few hours with a bunch of drunks? Look back over all of the parties you've ever been to, the things that happen late in the evening are never the good things. They are the fights, the misguided hookups, the vomiting, the yelling at strangers, the one drink too many parts. And by not missing that you are missing the good things in life. The pure clean moments. The sober light of day moments."
Rebeccah looked up at the ceiling and sighed, "I told you it sounded preachy. But it's how I feel. I never wanted to miss anything so I ended up missing something I could never replace. I vowed from that moment on that I would weigh my choices better. And part of that is making sure I make them mostly sober. So one or two drinks is it. Leaving early is it. Not worrying about missing something because I know there are other things I won't miss because of that choice."
"Wow. Okay, now I feel badly for always asking you to stay."
"Don't, it's my choice, Allison, not anyone else's. But it's one I have never been sorry I made. The best part is I haven't had a hangover in five years. Not even a touch of a headache. I get the social fun part of the evening at the beginning when everyone is still feeling a little mellow. I get one or two tasty beverages, then I am done and tucked in bed for the night knowing I will feel great in the morning. It might not work for everyone, but it works for me." Rebeccah looked at the clock on her phone and then held it up to the group with a smile, "And with that, I'm off for the night."
As Rebeccah packed up her things and settled the bar tab the other three decided that they would call it an early evening as well. When people heard her reason for calling it night early they usually did. For at least one night. Sometimes for more. As she saw her friends headed home early for the evening she felt good about telling them her story, even if it was only half true.
She only left out the part about the aliens, and really could you blame her?