The Morning After the Night Before

One kindness I afforded myself last night – passed out as I was in my sweat-stained clubbing trousers, dried mascara clogging my lashes, Hansel-and-Gretel crumb trail leaking from the wad of toast that decorated my window ledge – was to not set an alarm. Unfortunately for me, I have the body clock of a US marine and an apparent inability to sleep past 11am, so with a grotesque wriggling of limbs and a stiff stretch that scrapes the aforementioned mountain of carbs beside my bed, I emerge into the blissfully dull and cold Friday morning like a disappointingly meek moth squirming out of a cocoon, where a butterfly might have been expected.

Eyes creaking open like an unused garage door that could do with a once-over of WD-40, I assess the immediate damage of the night before in the evidence scattered around my bedroom. Empty bottle of Tesco’s finest Porto 6 (reduced on Clubcard, because I am not made of money): check. I wince: a whole bottle? With a dangerous churn of the stomach, the sight of the alcohol brings the taste of last night to my lips: cheap tart wine, assorted artificial vapes with flavours that do not really exist like ‘ice blast’ and ‘green’, and dry bread. My shoes are on the radiator, suffusing the room with that stale rainwater odour that pervades Sauchiehall Street in the aftermath of a ‘Firewater Thursday’. Still, it can’t be argued that I don’t take care of myself. Not every inebriated first year would have the foresight to dry out her trusty Vans when she stumbles in at 4am.

Clamping my hand to my mouth, just in case, I ease myself out of bed with all the grace and agility of an arthritic octogenarian. Check the bag – phone, wallet, keys, thank God. Also, a stray chip, mercifully un-sauced, and a pair of sunglasses. Not a bad haul. My stomach lurches at the thought of food, but at the same time the mentally conjured taste of marmite on a seeded bagel is borderline erotic. If I can make it to the kitchen intact, then carbs are the reward.

On my emphatic entrance into our communal cooking area (namely, tripping over the hem of my trousers and catching my balance on the overflowing bin), I hear the delighted croak of sleepy yet exuberant laughter – the calling card of a hungover student. When I look up, I realise my flatmate has taken a picture of me, a damning immortalisation of my horrendous state. Horror dawns as my eyes weakly focus on the screen; Edward Cullen paleness with weed-red eyes, ringed with kohl and sleepy crust. I can’t even comprehend the shape my hair is making. I choke out a bleak laugh and claw my way to the tap.

With water in (albeit shaky) hand, my mate, her friend with benefits, our flatmate who wisely caught an early night, and I (the scraggly band of not-so-merry adventurers), clamber into the heady atmosphere of a close, almost humid Murano room with the lights off and heating on full blast. We tentatively sip at water, and groan sporadically when unwanted memories come oozing back. I’m  now tangled up in friends’ arms, eyes closed, and paracetamol caught begrudgingly in my throat. I glance up to see her sitting, head hung, eyelids peeled back, pinching the bridge of her nose and sighing intermittently. The poster girl for Utter Defeat. Where usually this would elicits a giggle, an uncontainable ragged guffaw comes out, to be echoed by the rest of the company sprawled on her bed. As the slow morning progresses, we are joined by still-drunk flatmates (accompanied occasionally with their shag for the night, loitering sheepishly), to bask in our little communal tangle of limbs. Bizarrely, I am awash with contentment. This is one of my favourite parts of the morning after; when all inhibitions, expectations and standards have been duly disposed of; when everyone is at their most base and lowest form of self, and thus anything goes. Filet-o-Fish with extra pickles for breakfast? Sure. Borrow your roommates’ knickers because you don’t have the strength to put on a wash? Why not? Listen to ‘Country Roads’ four times in the shower? Bit weird, but whatever gets you up and going.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the night is the alarming flotilla of unremembered photographs that pepper the WhatsApp group chat throughout the day. Sufficiently armed with espressos, we heave ourselves into sitting positions to scroll through the criminalising evidence of the night before. It’s like the baby steps to checking your bank account – almost an act of masochism. It’s a gentle reminder of how debilitatingly draining the hedonism could have been. A couple cutesy poses at pre’s suddenly descend into disturbing fish-eyed bar shots with two Jager bombs in hand and a stranger’s arm round your waist. I cover my face in good-natured shame, shrivelling my body into the child’s pose in the crook of my friend’s arm as she laughs spiritedly. The nausea will wear off in an hour. The headache will dissipate by mid-afternoon. And, likely, come 7pm, I’ll be well on my way to round two that night.

by Naomi Maeve (she/her)

Image credits: on Instragram


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