On alcohol and smoking and dreams distilling

With enough alcohol in my gut to start up a car on the gravelly backroads of a town you thought we’d left behind, alongside the memories of an affair that haunts me 8 years later; I write to you now, telling you I’ll remember you as you were when we danced under the star-quilted banner of a night escaped from overprotective parents that were drunk on wine and unrealistic expectations — parents that knew what we’d do, when we felt infinite, and impenetrable to everything — yes writing to the old man, the bickering Ma, the next shift, the unwashed dishes, the car not driven home cause his was otherwise lodged in town next to the watering hole that always seemed to serve him when he held on to the nearest stool like it was his last hope. I write you. You’ll never read this. You’ll maybe keep thinking of me. Wondering what I’m doing with myself. Knowing it’s nothing good. Knowing it might hold some sort of meaning. Knowing I’m committed to this for now. Knowing I might finally find my way back again. Hoping I don’t go so far I can’t. So, I write you. So here I am. Hellbent on carving something outside the boundaries of the expected. Thinking I might find you at a coffeeshop. A coffeeshop, yeah. One that serves drip — cheap, always black and sometimes with two sugars when the nostalgia kicks — with smiles and understanding, and the steady maternal assurance that it’s all going to work out after that first sip, and the will to keep trucking on. I write you, picturing you, picturing you in the kind of tight fitting pants that’d lend a man religion, as you keep busy navigating the ins and outs of a bar wedged comfortably in the middle of buck-nowhere, striking conversation with the red-faced thirsty tired locals, as easily as you take that used and abused pack of matches to the next unlit Marlboro (red), hurting to know how you’re doing. And honestly, you’re probably better off. You found the road outside the map of planned expectations, and you sped down it like there were no speed limits, cause you set your own. And hell, that’s why I loved you from the moment we first spoke. And that’s why I can’t wait to exchange common talk in unexpected places, soon enough.

I figure we’ll reunite someplace unplanned. Probably the bar we’d always go to as fearless post-grad degenerates. The bar tended by tired high school grads that never quite made it out, and now find themselves catering to the town drunks we all used to make fun of. Yes, yes, us: The post-grads with thirsts that well exceeded our budgets. We’ll awkwardly acknowledge one another. Play the part like it’s normal, and proceed to fall in love again; and all the while, wonder why we ever discontinued the kind of affair that seemed to define our reason, at the time, to keep going out and mingling and interacting with so many people we both so actively hated. And I’ll hate myself as I actively narrate everything we’re saying into some sort of unfortunate permanent writer’s existence. But that’s how it is. That’s how it was. That’s how it’ll always be.

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