one night stand

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how many times have you wished your sober self could tell your drunk self to behave? that you’ll regret this tomorrow? that maybe you should quit while you’re ahead, that you don’t need that last drink, nor do you need to take the random guy you just met at the bar home with you.

i swear to god, sometimes i need sober glasses to put over my drunk eyes. because here’s the thing about one night stands. in the moment, they seem great. the alcohol hits your bloodstream, and there’s a moment where everything starts to sparkle. you feel more hopeful, like life might just break you off a piece of good luck and serve it to you on a silver platter. so you do things you normally wouldn’t do sober. you strike up a conversation with a guy at a bar and you speak of nonsensical things and sensical things, like where you went to college and what you’re doing with perfectly blown-out hair and glitter caked into the corner of your eyes.

and everything seems rosy, tinted with sunshine even though it’s past midnight, and you decide that you don’t want to be alone in your bed, and you don’t much care who shares it with you. so you grab the one you’ve been talking to and words are exchanged, but it’s not so much the words that matter as the looks, and it’s decided: he’ll come with you. and for a moment, you feel lighter than air, like you’ve been chosen, like maybe your drunken one night stand will result in a lifetime of happiness, in a man who puts a ring on your finger and makes you chocolate chip pancakes on sunday mornings while you curl your fingers around a steaming mug of coffee and take it all in.

because that’s the thing about bringing a guy home: in the moment, it feels wonderful. you feel pretty. you thank yourself for choosing to wear heels, for applying extra eyeliner, for smiling and laughing and talking and remembering to suck in your stomach. and you kiss in the cab and you watch the cabbie watching you and you think to yourself, ‘this is what it means to be young’ and you praise yourself for your recklessness, because you’re not a reckless person. you tell yourself you’re just having fun, just like everyone else, and everyone’s always telling you that you could stand to have a bit more fun.

and then you’re putting your key in the lock and you’re in bed and you’ve stripped off your clothes and it’s dark and you’re glad for the lack of light because you hate this part –  the part where it gets personal and you can’t hide behind anything. and you curse him for throwing off the covers and really looking at you, because you’re not sure you’re ready for that. and so you get it done and you offer him a glass of water and you fall into a dreamless sleep, and in the morning, things are the same, but different.

your hair no longer looks pretty, but messy, knotted and twisted and uneven, all smushed on one side. your eye makeup is smudged and you realize you forgot to brush your teeth, and it’s too hot under the covers but too cold in your room and how did you get here? and your head pounds and you look at the one sleeping next to you and you realize he’s not going to be your anything. he doesn’t care about you, doesn’t want to know about what you want out of life or how you take your coffee or the fact that you hate the feel of itchy wool sweaters and despise big slobbery dogs that smell like wet garbage. and you curse yourself for doing this yet again, because even if it’s only been a handful of times in your life, you’ve done it enough to know you never enjoy it the next morning. and you try and counsel yourself: this was fun, you were fun, it’s good to be fun. but in the harsh clouds of early morning, it’s no longer fun.

it’s funny, yes, when he rolls over and opts for, “want to have sex again before i leave?” instead of good morning. but it’s not fun. and suddenly all you want is to be old and wrinkled and sitting in a rocking adirondack chair on an oversized porch alongside someone who’s been at your side for years. and you’re seized by the terrible fear that the life you dream of for yourself, the one with which you sing yourself to sleep, might never be yours. and then, you can’t be alone fast enough. so you go through the motions and you nod as he says he has to get home, he’s having furniture delivered, and you smile and giggle at all the right moments as he tells you his hurricane sandy horror story, and how he’s finally found a new apartment, and you realize he’s balding slightly and he’s not the one who wants to make pancakes with you on a sunday morning, and all you want is for him to leave.

and after all that, the next day? the next day you go back to life. you fall in love with strangers on the subway, and you stand in line at starbucks and you fight to cut a swath down the busy city streets, and you think to yourself, is this it? is this what it’s going to be? and the thought of that horrifies you, that this could be it. and so you find yourself on a crowded street in one of the most populous cities in the world feeling utterly alone, and you tell yourself, never again.

that is, until next time.

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2 comments
  1. Lauren said:

    Hello, you don’t know me but I’m a twenty-something-year-old and I’ve lived in NYC for a few years. I’ve stumbled across your blog/this post and thought I should leave a note (hope that’s not too weird). It brought a tear to my eye, because this is exactly what I’ve wanted to put into words for a very long time. You see, when I moved to NYC, I came out of a four year relationship, that sadly I never have gotten over. So when you say, “…you find yourself on a crowded street in one of the most populous cities in the world feeling utterly alone, and you tell yourself, never again,” I know that feeling all too well.
    Great blog, I can relate to a lot of your posts.

    • lauren,
      i am so touched by your comment! thank you for your kind words. i like to think that as lonely as new york can be, we’ve all got more kindred spirits in this city than we realize.

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