This is old, I am not 'almost 30', I am 30. My break-up can no longer be called recent, well, depending on how you classify certain things. But I got nothing right now. I'm tired from two late nights in a row and I want to sit on the couch and try to get into Top Chef. If that bartender that followed me out of the bar Monday night actually calls, maybe I'll have a good story for you soon. But here's this for now.
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We are sitting at the bar, you don’t need to know what time it is, but I will tell you it is too late and at this hour we should both be home, or making out with each other in a car. But we aren’t, we’re talking about our respective recent break-ups. There is a fire going behind him and the table is long and rectangle and I won’t finish this beer I’m sipping on but I’ll do my best, because it’s well past closing time and the bartender didn’t have to pour us these drinks.
He is saying how he feels like something died in him this time, how he’s mourning this great big loss in his life, even though he knew it had to end. I feel so much more pragmatic in talking about my break-up, and it takes him off guard. He looks at me and I know he’s wondering where my emotions are.
I’ve been wondering the same thing lately.
Things are different in me.
For one, I’m eating bacon. Thick, fried, slabs cut off the side of some cute little soft rolly polly pig. I think about it every time I take a bite, and I don’t flinch one bit. I ask for seconds. I order BLTs. For Christmas this year we cooked a chicken, an entire chicken, in my oven. I could taste the death in every bite. Dead bird. I love birds. But now I want BBQ chicken and Club Sandwiches and Cobb salads.
Something has finally shifted in me. I attribute it to almost living thirty years. I’m not as fresh faced and doe eyed as I used to be, I know now that we will never utilize the earths surface to its fullest potential, that me not eating chicken won’t change a god damn thing. I need protein and I’m too tired to fight small battles. I’m hanging up my activist cape and savoring the sweet smell of frying bacon.
We are back at the bar. You don’t need to know who I’m sitting with, but I will tell you he is about my age and as the night gets later my urge to kiss him is growing. I don’t want him to think I’m insensitive so I say, “Don’t you feel like you’re getting more jaded as you get older?” He looks at me a little shocked, “No way, he mutters, I’m getting softer.” I want to tell him that sometimes you need to start building walls around you’re heart and when you don’t do it fast enough the lining of that vital organ starts to weaken.
I want to tell him about my brother again.
About his wife and 1 year old boy and how he’s used up all his happy endings. You only get so many in a lifetime, and I think he’s even stolen a few of someone elses. It goes like this, relapse, use, detox, sober, relapse, use. Maybe live on the street for a while, maybe sleep with prostitutes, maybe be a prostitute, depending on your money situation at the time. If you have a home and a wife and a kid and a decent job, you’ll sleep with crack whores. If the money’s tight and you can’t even get a cash advance, then you’ll whore yourself out for your next high. And you go and go and go until the money runs out or the family finds out and someone comes and saves you. My brother doesn’t deserve to be saved anymore. Because someone has always saved him. Someone has always dropped everything, gotten on a plane and bailed his sorry ass out.
I can feel the bartender behind us getting restless, kicking the other drunks out, before we leave I want to tell him, sitting across from me, his glass almost empty, I want to tell him that before 15 years of this I was softer. But I can’t afford to be anymore. Something tells me he won’t understand. I barely get it myself.
We finally get kicked out of the bar and we walk to my house just a block away. He is full of good stories and I wonder if he knows how much of a sucker I am for good stories. I want to hold on to him, I want to keep him in my life, because the longer we sit here, on my couch, my eyes starting to close, begging sleep, the longer we sit here, the softer I feel. And maybe I can tell you why I can’t afford to be soft anymore but I can also tell you that I can’t carry these bricks in my chest forever. And maybe if I reach across the couch right now and kiss him, maybe one day we’ll be talking about turkey dinners and we’ll wake up to one another frying bacon in our small kitchen with yellow curtains and too much sun.