The Only Way to Fall
I’ve been told that when you find the one, you’ll know. What an absolute crock that is. I mean, I thought I knew once. But that’s what they don’t tell you — that when you think you’ve found the one, you won’t know that you don’t know. See the distinction? It’s the difference between being in love and subconsciously faking it. It’s the two-year relationship that stopped being love the first time you fucked with the lights on. Cold, callous, unavoidable. But hey, you keep on trucking, because this is what love is right? It’s not having sex much anymore. Like everybody says about marriage, but maybe you just got there a lot quicker. And I’ll tell you what it’s not, it’s not getting kicked in the stomach every time you make eye contact with her from across the room, that’s for damn sure. It’s not frequenting that one café at the same time everyday with the hopes that you’ll bump into her. Don’t be ridiculous. You’ll waste all of your money, stupid. But some days, I feel like maybe it could be.
It’s one of those afternoons. One of those bluebird winter-morning kind of afternoons. One of those afternoons that you have to wear your sunglasses right into the café to avoid that nostalgic lens-flare madness that makes you want to breakdown just a little bit. Like the apricot glare that covers every polished surface or flecks from every window is your childhood trying to remind you that with every second it’s just that much harder to remember.
I fumble with my wallet, searching for the change that I know is there, knowing full well that the gawky teenage barista is wondering to herself why I don’t just use the ten dollar note that she can see jutting from the worn leather. I have change I’m going to use it ok?
“Just a regular flat white thanks”
“Short, tall, grande or venti?”
“Just… I don’t know… regular, medium, just coffee.”
She looks at me like I’m the idiot. And maybe I am, the world seems to be getting away from me at an alarming rate. Slipping hellishly quick into a reality that even though I’m there, and have always been there, makes no goddamn sense.
I take my number and sit myself at a table next to the giant wall-window so that I can keep my sunglasses on without looking pretentious. Sometimes I like to imagine that without them I’d be signing a lot of autographs. Pipe dreams.
The table isn’t sticky. That’s why I like this place. Sitting here is great for me because I can judge people on the street. There’s a guy in a well fitted grey suit with pinstripes that looks like he’s late to a meeting — there’s so many of him, I wonder if any businessman is ever on time.
A slightly bouncier version of the stretched out child that took my order flitters over to me and places a regular flat white at my table while reaching for my number.
“Were you waiting on anything else hun?”
Only my destiny hun.
“No thanks, I’m good.”
And she’s off, fan-tailing back from whence she came with all the grace of somebody that needs no more validation from life than a smile and a paycheque, and honestly I admire that.The coffee isn’t amazing but it will do, I really just wanted somewhere to be. These are the kinds of afternoons that I should probably have someone to spend time with but I think maybe cynicism is about as attractive to woman as garlic is to vampires… or silver bullets… I forget, but unattractive is what I mean. And that’s not the only thing. People make assumptions about cynical people. They think we’re hardened, that we lack empathy, love. Which I guess is fair, but sometimes I panic. Sometimes I jolt and pat my pockets just so that I know I have my car keys. So that I know that at any moment I can drive. Just drive as far as I can, past trees that slump under the weight of wilted leaves on pastures that sweep over rolling mounds of forgotten earth, before collapsing into a heap of gut-wrenching heartbreak and spit chunks of myself into the gutter with all of the soul of somebody that has lost who they thought they were and are only left with who they hoped they would never be.
She breezes in. I almost don’t notice. I am prone to subtle complacency through foggy lenses. She’s only a silhouette in the frigid sunlight, but I can feel her. I feel the idea of her. It concusses me for a spell. A swimming mind, like the moment before you drunkenly slur your words, but with more honesty. Like standing on the edge of unknowing and having to fight the urge not to plunge into the ridiculousness of delirious love. And also charred anger. The blazing coals in my chest are laughing at me.
Her cheeks are kissed pink from the wind.
Her lips kiss pink from youth.
Her eyes glitter.
I look back out the window.
Move my fingers to my wrist.
I’m fairly sure I’m still alive.
She takes a seat at the table adjacent to mine.
My hands shake.
I have a lot to say.
I spread my fingers apart on the table. It’s not sticky. That’s why I like this place. It’s the way it’s always been. I like consistency.
I want to turn to her. Tell her that I once dreamed about her. Tell her that I was walking on the beach. It was snowing. My fingers ached and my eyes burned as I caught the falling cold. She was sitting in the dunes and I approached her with sorry-salt lips. She was crying and I was in each tear. I rolled down from her eyes and fell into the grit of the sand. And fell into her warmth. And told her I’d never love again. And told her I’d always be with her. And I was.
I look up and she’s looking at me…
…then back at her coffee…
…then back at me…
My heart shudders. I have to do it. It’s time. And every tragic beautiful song plays in my head at once. I shuffle to the edge of my seat and stand, walking to the exit and out the door.
I’ve been told that you never find it if you’re looking for it.