Pen to Paper: the Chicken and the Egg

It’s funny, how often we confuse inhibition for tradition. It wasn’t hard for me to see through you. Hell, I guess you didn’t fall for my fakeness either. It didn’t take you long to realize that I wasn’t fluent in happiness, it was a foreign language class I always just-almost failed. The only way I passed was copying other peoples’ answers:

-Hey man, you good?

-Yeah, I’m good (I wavered)

-You promise?

-Yeah, I promise

-Ok (He’s walking away, he believed me, I convinced him)

I never believed in breaking promises, but when you’re a twenty-two-year-old boy and barely know how to get through a day without wanting to throw your life away by drowning in liquor or the hotel pool (whichever ones quicker)—you don’t care about breaking promises. So you lie.

Instead, you and I, we, communicated in a language I instinctually knew the tongue: dodging glances, looking at our electronics, all the while swirling our barely-full gin and tonics for the other to see. I got the message pretty quickly that you wanted to leave.

We threw caution straight in the face of the wind, and the bar door almost off its hinges, as we skimmed through the night back to my hotel room. It might’ve been from my drunken state, but I don’t even remember asking your name. I just remember thanking each piece of pavement my feet passed over as we walked back to the hotel room together. Because we were two outsiders who didn’t care about the dangers of going home smashed with a stranger from a random bar. And in that short pilgrimage from one place to the other, you became all the women I could never convince to come home with me. And for the first time in forever, my brain became quiet. I told you things that I’ve never told anyone. The smell of our cheap gin and your probably cheap perfume overwhelmed the smell of our combined loneliness as skin came in contact with skin in the gloom on that thin, inexpensive mattress, akin to a sort of alter.

But your lips tasted expensive and your skin had no rough patches. Maybe your soul was bruised, but it didn’t feel like it. My palms must have been sweaty; they usually are in situations when I pay homage to a petty God I don’t believe in for giving me something that always ends up being just temporary. I don’t know whether the chicken or the egg came first, or whether the color of the sky is because of the reflection of the ocean or vice versa, but for a moment it didn’t matter. You were the chicken and I was the egg. You were the sky and I was the ocean, and we were both blue. It didn’t matter who was a reflection of who. But then you got up and ran off, taking both the sky and the ocean and every one the remaining parts of me I still felt like were mine with you.

And just like that, you, who I had only known for a few hours; you, who felt like at one point was one of my ribs; you, who etched your personality into the right side of my brain—left. You became all the childhood memories I could never again think of. You became all the songs I never wanted to listen to. You became the feeling of being drunk. I thought I had gotten used to things and people leaving, until you left. That one night I was with you I will forever have to force out of my mind, because for once I was ok with being alive.

I hope that yesterday will forgive me for not asking for your number. I hope today isn’t too cruel, and I hope tomorrow doesn’t still hold these grudges. And I’m caught between hoping I’ll see you again one day, and hoping I’ll never see you. Because although to you it might’ve just been another unintended drunken one-night stand—to me it made me stand one more night of living. And I don’t know whether or not I’m grateful for that.

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