This Must Be the Place — Part 2: Make It Up as We Go Along
So as my life went on, I knew there was no place for this feeling in my life. But that didn’t stop me from wanting it. When a human heart beats, it beats for admiration — it can’t just beat for one. Something needs to motivate ourselves into getting that blood to pump through our bodies and make us feel complete. And after two brief tastes of that, at the cost of losing those two, I was hooked… addicted…
So, I decided to gain it in the most superfluous manner. I seeked it in sex. And when you’re in college, by that point you know how to get it. You know all the stupid lines people fall for you to for that brief pretend game before and after we ruin the bed. You know all the people who are just looking for a lay. You know the drill, you go through it piece by piece. And I’d always smile and pretend to be into the party when really I was not interested in the people or the games or the sounds around me — I was only looking for my next fix of that sweet artificiality of love and I was looking for the girl who would be most willing to give it to me with the lies I shot out. It was never the real thing, but it was a good enough facsimile — one that was harmless, that never had any chance of backfire, and I kept going with it for my first three years studying at college.
But, when you spend enough time as a player, you grow so accustomed to the life that when a girl comes around to make you work for it, it rocks your whole world. It’s something new… something so transcendent and foreign to you. But most of all it’s a challenge. The challenge was named Layla, like the Eric Clapton song. I knew this was a bad idea. I knew that if I went ahead with this, I was throwing her life away to a place that I knew it was never going to come back from. But when she wouldn’t put out for my crutch that night, I took her number, staring straight at her eyes, and scheduled a date where we would meet to grab coffee… Chicks dig coffee… I was so accustomed to acting like these men around me who objectify that I was used to the objectification mentality…
A curse and a blessing… as long as I think of Layla this way, there won’t be a problem.
Didn’t matter that I got laid anyway that night.
But I did show up to that date. And we did the things I didn’t want to do… we talked. She shared herself, but I just gave some bullshit lie for every single question save for my name… from what I was studying to my favorite book. We would go back and forth and I would just be telling myself “I better get what I came for…” but it would take a lot more than just some coffee.
Slowly but surely I’d learn all about who this person is…
I’d learn her favorite music is Fun. and that she loves to read endlessly about endless topics until the end of time that will never come to her.
I’d learn her favorite movie is The Princess Bride because it would reflect the idea that beauty, courage and humor can exist beyond the turn of a page.
I’d learn that she wants to dance. Not for money, but that it is all she wants to do.
The coffee taste was developed after her parents jokingly told her at age 10 that tea is for girls and coffee is for guys. Even though they were joking, she took that to heart and began drinking coffee immensely.
I’d learn she only believed God was us. I never asked more beyond that.
I’d learn she had a fake tooth that knocked out after she had played basketball with her friends once.
I’d learn she loves the smell of the earth after the rain has stopped.
I’d learn this was not going to last because I let myself grow attached and then I let that attachment grow into something a hell of a lot worse.
We never had sex.
It didn’t matter.
I had to find out the hard way it doesn’t work that way for me.
I knew her inside and outside and everything about her and what she was, is and wants to be.
I suddenly knew nothing. I had learned absolutely nothing from those weeks and months spent with her accidentally falling for this person who would eventually disappear from the earth. A smell the world will never admit to smelling, a laugh that was never heard or a smile that was never seen, except by me because I’m the only one forced to keep the memories while the lights shut down and the wheels keep moving the same way they always have.
And I resigned to the fact that this was a part of me. So, I kept it from being a part of the world. I looked for the farthest, darkest and most invisible corner of this city and I left myself to live in that lonely world. I embraced it. I woke up alone and said nothing to anyone in the morning. After cleaning up and eating breakfast, I got my ass out the door to work behind a desk ignoring that a person would be sitting in front of me asking for something that I would only be asking my boss to give them. It was an A-B conversation between the client and the company, I was only a middleman and I had nobody I needed to talk to outside of that.
I’d move on when I get off work and grab coffee at different coffee shops every day. This city is filled enough with them to make certain I’d never run out of new coffee shops to enter. I had nothing to worry about. I’d look at and speak to no one I didn’t have to speak to for my fucking coffee and I’d leave on my way back home. I’d sit down and watch some documentaries or read some books and I’d make myself dinner and I’d go to sleep and that’d be my day.
I could live without human interaction. I didn’t need it. Or more so, they didn’t need it. They only needed to be careful around me. Because I was not good for this world.
Like what you’ve read? Be sure to follow Salim Garami for more short stories and film reviews, and Panel & Frame for more emerging voices in Literature, Film, Comics, and Art! Don’t forget to recommend!