You Don’t Have To Go Home

It’s late and you don’t want to go home. You want to drive around or walk around because you don’t want to leave her, not yet. Leaving her will mean the feeling of terrible apartness. It will mean watching her fade into the distance, disappear dragging a long shadow under the streetlights, fade into the spill of headlamps with only the lingering taste of a kiss or the touch of her perfume or some other thing that will wear off (yes, wear off) as the days — the endless days — that seem to somehow go on without her, but are empty of the things that lend days any sort of form, meaning, substance…joy.

You don’t want to go home, no.

The night begins to pale and even though your eyes burn and you’re both tired of the incandescent blaze and the hungover feeling that comes from drinking coffee past midnight, you let it pale because even though it’s late, you don’t want to go home.

That’s how it starts.

Somewhere at some hour, when it’s late.

The phone calls go on into the night and suddenly oh fuck I have to be up in an hour and you’re stumbling into work with red eyes and your face hurting from laughing.

Maybe you drive around, find a hill, look at the city burning up with light. Millions of lives. You consider these things out loud because this is what feeling known evokes: a feeling of knowingness. You kiss her or you don’t. It doesn’t matter. Even if you don’t, you imagine kissing her. The world around you smells like wet grass and exhaust and gravel and auto air freshener. And even though it’s late, you don’t want to go home.

You sit somewhere. A porch. A balcony. A scratched table in a restaurant in the middle of closing, ignored by a waitress who just wants to finish her shift and leave but has other things to do before she kicks you out. Don’t order a refill on your coffee. You want to know everything. Every detail. Broken hearts. The names of first pets. The first boy she kissed. And it’s all a cliché and you both know it and still, still, you don’t want to go home. Not yet. Park in an empty lot and kiss until your mouths are sore.

Her name will be on your lips long after she is gone, after she is in bed. Does she think of you, too? Stare at the ceiling and ask yourself. The other numbers that come through on your phone will become nuisances. They will become distractions. They will become the great mass of everyone-who-isn’t-her and you will resent them for not being her. Your pulse will throb with declaration and the delicious fear of finding that your affections are unreturned and you picture it like a cartoon of someone dropping a heart on the ground. You think these and a thousand other things while you sit and stare at her in the silence and you don’t want to go home.

Long after the night has died and you’ve joked about weddings and names for children — and nearly every wedding and child’s name has started off as joke — you’ll wonder, well, what if? Leave tomorrow’s details to tomorrow. Tomorrow is hours off, and though it feels like the seconds have found a way to triple their speed, you may rest assured that they will drip like amber from the branch until you see her again.

The sun will rise. Drink the last dregs of night from her lips. Be fevered. Be resolute. Be brave. Feel her eyes on your back and don’t be afraid to turn back to look.

You do not lose her to the streetlights, nor to the spill of headlamps.

The night ends because even the Hesperides must sleep. Even the stars must climb elsewhere and light the skies for other lovers staring out at other cities, not wanting to go home.

(This originally appeared on www.ksanthony.com)