The story so far:
xvi – her me trying to fool reality
Do you know what it’s like to miss someone, so deeply, that everything around you seems insignificant?
I haven’t paid my rent yet this month.
I haven’t done dishes in a week. Or laundry.
I haven’t run the vacuum or cleaned my toilets or made my bed.
I listen to the same song, over and over and over and over. ‘Use somebody.’ Kings of Leon.
Do you know what it feels like to be alone? Surrounded by relatives and friends and card games and discussions about dogs and kids and boat rides and lucky breaks. Stuck in a conversation about what you have been up to for the last two months since anyone has seen you.
“I can’t believe you actually showed up tonight.”
“I know. I’ve just been so…well, you know.”
“ Yea, of course. You’ve been busy at work and with your mom and everything.”
“Yes…my mom. And everything.”
“So, you doin’ okay?”
“Yea, ya know.”
Five days since I’ve had any contact with the only person that matters to me. And isn’t that a bitch to admit. The only person that matters. I mean, for sure…I love my family. And friends. But they have lives. They go to the park with their kids and they go to church and out to dinner and they watch movies they order on netflix.
I obsess and I love and I punch holes in my walls and I throw things off my balcony and I destroy self portrait canvasses I’ve painted.
I’m lonely. So alone.
So I went out on a blind date Saturday night. My friend Ryan set me up with her. Twenty five. Studying to be a nurse. Seemingly Intelligent. We spoke on the phone twice and decided to meet at a local bar and watch the Rays game. Here’s how it went:
I arrived half an hour early to get a good table. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t even much excited. I hadn’t even bothered to iron my slept in green polo or take a look in the mirror to see if my hair was presentable. Is the messy look still in? Who cares. Alyssa says she likes it when my hair looks like I just rolled out of bed. It jets out at different angles. Dark brown with inserts of gray. It tangles. Its matted and pressed forward over my left ear. Real Rock-star, she says. And not jonas brothers. More Aerosmith.
I was however looking forward to the handful of Jack and cokes that I would certainly consume.
I walked into the bar and was relieved to find a dim smoky atmosphere. Not many places left you can smoke inside. Bonus.
I snagged a clean ashtray off an empty table and selected a high top near a flat screen. I figured the girl, whose name I couldn’t recall, wouldn’t be very interested in the game. She would probably want to talk and attempt to get to know me. I certainly wasn’t in the mood to share much about me. I wasn’t even really sure why in the hell I agreed to do this in the first place. The possibility of sex perhaps. The possibility that I might be able to be distracted from the absence of my one true love for a few minutes.
Cigarette lit. Waitress approaches.
“Hey, you need anything?”
“Do you happen to have any money I can borrow?”
Raised eyebrows. Scrunched face. No reply.
“I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I have tons of my own money. And I’d like to start spending it on Jack and coke. Please. If you would be so kind.”
A smile. “I would be that kind. You want a tall or a short.”
“Tall as you Sunshine.”
“Oh, you’re a charmer aren’t ya?”
“You have no idea.”
As she walks away. “I’m getting one.”
I popped open my phone to see if maybe the most precious and amazing human being ever created had called me. She hadn’t.
In fact, I hadn’t heard from her since she left. Not an email. Not a text. Not a call. I doubt she’s even thinking about me.
Depressing. I scan the room and find six dartboards, a golden tee machine, a bowling machine, two pool tables and an empty karaoke stage. A sudden fear grips me…what if sat is a karaoke night? Please…don’t let it be. Because if it is…and if I am still here…and if I drink as many jack and cokes as my blood is demanding, then I will no doubt wind up on stage bellowing out ‘Nothing compares to you.’ Yes, it is meaningful. It’s the song that she always sings. My darling, gorgeous, sensational Alyssa.
Another cigarette lit. Waitress returns.
“Here you go Captain charming.”
“That’s Captain Bender to you Sunshine.”
Shaking head in confusion.
“Is tonight karaoke night?” I have to learn.
“Oh, no. Used to be but we really don’t pull a big crowd on Saturdays anymore so our manager nixed it.”
“I know, right.”
“So what’s your real name Sunshine?”
“You’re not going to believe this, but its actually Sunshine.”
“Of course I believe it. With eyes like those, you could get me to believe anything.”
“Mmm. Well then, that drink will be an even $100.”
“ Start me a tab. I’m expecting a guest.”
“Maybe. What time do you get off?”
Laughter. She shifts her weight from one leg to the other.
I continue: “ Seriously…yes. Sort of anyway. Blind date. It could actually be you for all I know.”
“That’s a shame.”
Sunshine smile. “Okay Mr. Bender, I’ll be back to check on you in a bit.”
I watch her take a few steps away. Then I say, “That’s Captain.”
She turns and again gives me the raised eyebrows and slight head shake.
“Captain Bender.” I remind her.
She nods and moves on.
I’m about at the bottom of my first drink when a blinding flash of light penetrates into the bar. Someone has opened the front door.
Blond hair. Shoulder length. Bangs. Red lipstick. Defined cheekbones. Slim neck. Gwen Stefani chest. Pink v-neck shirt. Loose fitting jeans over skinny legs. Flip flops and pink painted piggies.
I pretend to be engrossed in the game. I’m hoping it’s not her. She’s pretty. I don’t want pretty. I want disgusting and rude and stinky. I’m in no mood to be pleasant and if that’s her I will have no choice because despite what you may think of me, I am a gentleman. At least in the presence of a pretty lady.
You can call me shallow. That I accept.
Peripheral vision. She’s moving toward me. Sunshine the waitress right behind her.
As she approaches I light up another cigarette and drain the rest of my drink. Then I stand and make like I’m moving toward the bathroom.
Then I pretend to see her for the first time.
“Hi…are you…?” I’ve got nothing.
“Yes, right. Lainy. I know…I’m just…”
“That’s okay. Your Alex. Great to finally meet you.”
Finally? Like we’ve been **** pen pals for years?
We shake hands. Sunshine approaches.
“So, you’re the date huh?”
Lainy looks uncomfortable. I like it.
“Uh, yea…I guess.” She looks at me.
“Yes Sunshine. This is my friend Lainy. Lainy…this is our award winning waitress Sunshine.”
They shake hands. I excuse myself and head toward the bathroom.
Loneliness is like a hallucinogenic drug. You see things happening all around you but none of them are real. You dig deep in your own head and you find solace. You tell yourself that your eyes are deceiving you. That the only true reality is you. Whats in your mind. What’s in your heart. That’s what you try and convince yourself. Otherwise you’ll let the visions drive you to jam a fork into your stomach. I know. I have the scars.
In the bathroom, at this bar, on a Saturday night, while my blind date waits for me, looking at myself in the mirror…I’m reminded of a time when I was at this party. I didn’t know anyone there. I was actually walking home from a bar and I came upon a house that had a mass of cars parked in front of it. I heard music. Laughter. I was **** faced. The door was unlocked. So I went in.
Everyone assumed someone knew me and I made myself at home next to the keg. Pouring and pumping. 30 minutes in, everyone knew me.
I wound up playing cards with a bunch of comic book looking teenagers. One of them packed a bowl and passed it to a young girl to his left. She took a hit. She gave it to the guy sitting next to her and he quickly passed it to another young girl. I watched this bowl go around and all the guys ignored it and all the girls hit it.
When it finally came to me, I was determined to break the trend. I sucked hard and I inhaled deep.
10 minutes later I was in the bathroom staring into the mirror trying to figure out who the **** I was.
Yea, it was laced. Some sort of date rape drug. I forget the name but I looked it up the next day and confirmed every one of my symptoms.
I will never forget that moment in time, staring into that mirror at a face that was familiar, only I couldn’t be certain it was actually mine. I literally forgot who I was. My name. My family. My life. I stood there staring at this sullen face staring back at me for a long time trying to remember anything. I paced and I splashed water in my face and I cried. I thought I had gone insane. It was the single most terrifying event in my history. Can you imagine forgetting who you are?
Eventually a childhood memory surfaced and immediately everything came crashing back. My head hurt and I knew I had to get the hell out of there.
I felt bad for the girls that probably didn’t make it out that night.
Present day, as I stood looking in the cracked and spit on mirror of this bar bathroom, my blind date waiting out at the table, I thought to myself…
‘You still don’t know who you are, do you?’
I wondered if maybe I used to be someone else. If the memories that came flooding back that night were uploaded from a different source. Maybe I am not who I think I am after all. Maybe there is another man in some other city walking around with all my memories. And I got his. Maybe the real me wouldn’t be like this. So alone. So in love. So lost and desperate and pathetic.
I asked myself: “ Are you Alexandar Deedens?”
I didn’t answer.
I walked back to the table and I sat down and I lit up a cigarette and I drained three quarters of my drink and I made a decision. **** it. I am who I am. I am not capable of pretending. I’m not interested in living a lie. What I feel is real. It’s depressing and it’s deficient and at times it’s downright life threatening. But it is what I have.
I looked at this pretty in pink woman, my blind date and I said, “ I am madly in love with this girl named Alyssa. She smells like every good memory I’ve ever had and she is the most beautiful being in the entire universe and I never stop thinking about her for more than five minutes and that’s only when I am absorbed in my work or a baseball game and I apologize but I wanted to be up front with you so that there wouldn’t be any mistake about what this evening is really all about.”
She stared at me. She squinted her painted eyes. She swallowed. Took a drink. Pulled out her own cigarette. Lit it. Blew smoke across the table toward me. Smiled. And finally spoke:
“So then we can have sex tonight and it will be completely meaningless. I wont have to worry about weather I will ever hear from you again and you wont care if I never call you. Right? Do I understand correctly?”
That night, as I explored her intimate regions and made her forget about all the **** that she had put up with that week at her job, and all the **** she had been given by her ex-fiancé and all her bills and all her homework and all her dirty laundry…I thought about how important it is to be honest. And open.
And how sometimes we all need a break from reality. Sometimes we all need to be lonely with someone else. Sometimes we all need to forget who the **** we are.
And I actually didn’t think about Alyssa. Well, at least for like 15 minutes. And that my friends is a record.