I took one last drink of the Crown Royal. It was time to leave, and it couldn’t have been more obvious. My date had drunk too much and passed out on the bed of one of the hosts. She was covered in vomit and incoherent. I didn’t have the tolerance to carry her home.
I stumbled back into the street where the party was taking place.”Quieres ponch?” Jesus asked me. I gulped down a glassful. It was strong and pungent; made of orange drink and some unidentifiable liquor. Immediately it made my head dampen, and I fell into a state of unawareness. Time slowed, and the air thickened. The night was viscous, and the gravity seemed heavier than usual.
I walked away from the party with a feeling of loneliness.Suddenly I realized what a foreigner I still was. This group of Mexicans had accepted me into their lives, but I would always be a gringo to them, a kind of novelty. I would never be one of them no matter how much Spanish I learned to speak, no matter how much of their culture I adopted.
I stepped down the dimly lit sidewalk with my head pointed down. I looked at every step I was taking. The sidewalk was composed of many little grains each with their own exposed peak reaching up to meet my step, but I couldn’t feel them. My feet seemed to belong to someone else. They were carrying me, but seemingly without the direction of my head. It was as if I was walking on an unnatural surface. As I passed through the intermittent spots of darkness between street lamps, I wondered if I would make it. Sooner or later, I arrived at a busy intersection.
I hailed a cab, and got in. An African man asked me where I was going. I hadn’t thought of what my intentions were. “Uh? Head north on Western Avenue for a while. I am not sure where I am going yet.” We drove around for a while, and eventually the cabby noticed my intoxicated state. My drunken appearance was exacerbated by my solemn state of mind. “Where you headed man? We’ve been driving for a while.” He was not tolerant of my indecisiveness. “I don’t know, man” I replied, “Just drop me off anywhere,” and I threw 20 dollars at him.
I was getting drunker as the alcohol was still being absorbed into my blood. I am not sure what the driving reason behind my emotion was, but I was feeling increasingly beat. I looked around for anyone. I just needed to see that I wasn’t the last living person in the world. That I had an effect. That I wasn’t the only soul still living and breathing in this God forsaken city. That I wasn’t alone. It was amazing to me how alone one could be in a city of three million people.
I was with Camilla now, but I was never with her: we only occupied the same spaces. When we slept together, it felt no more than masturbation. I never got off. I had not been “on” for a while now, and I couldn’t shake this feeling that my whole life up until this very moment was detached and only a dream. There was no continuity. My happiness of last summer seemed so distant, and I couldn’t comprehend how that happy man and myself could be the same person. The truth was, we weren’t. The weight of losing Gloria had been heavy and changed me.
It is hard to say what love is. I always thought it was universal. But, over time, I have learned it means something different to everyone.I had always been someone who “loved” easy. I was maddened with the desire to experience anything and everything, and love it all.
Gloria was new to me, and we shared many new experiences together. I finally moved to the city as I had always promised myself I would. I had met people: interesting people, people from all over the world. This is something only an awkward Midwestern boy from rural Indiana can appreciate. When Gloria left, I fell out of love with all the newness, out of love with life, with the city I lived in, with my friends. So, what good was love if it could turn and walk out on you? It had no lasting power. All the things that used to make me happy had no effect on me now. They had no lasting power either. I was unable to be stimulated and I was almost catatonic.
As I walked aimlessly down the empty city streets, I was desperate to find meaning. I was desperate for a reason to put one foot in front of the other. I was ready to give up. I walked along Fullerton Avenue under the expressway, and I saw the homeless. They slept between the vertical pillars which supported the overpass. Everything they owned was contained in those two-foot by six-foot concrete pads between the pillars. They were alone. I wondered what kept them waking up in the morning. Why suffer the way they did? What was their reason for going on despite their position in life? I felt I knew what was it like to be seen but unacknowledged, part of the scenery. It was miserable.I wondered if I could live like them. I wondered if that was my position in life: a faceless homeless shadow.
I sat down on one of the open concrete pads. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and I smashed it to the ground. I had no use for it or anyone on the other side of any incoming call. I propped my head up against my cold concrete pillow and let myself drift off to sleep. I was tired of making effort in life. Maybe I was home. Maybe this was where I was destined to be all along. I was hopeful I would find a reason to wake up in the morning.
Sometime in the night, I woke up. I took inventory of my belongings. I moved my hand across the back pocket of my jeans. My wallet was still there. I looked at my wristwatch and saw that it was almost 2 AM. In the background of my watch, the moon was full and glowing, great and big. Through my drunken haze, I shifted my focus to it and stared. It had pock marks from years of torment, from collisions with transient space debris. Yet, it was still there. Why?
A pigeon fluttered its wings overhead and white feces rained down on my belly which was hanging out from under my button up shirt.Time moved slowly now that I had nowhere to go and no one to meet. I was covered in soot. my face was chalky and gritty. My clothes were gray.It was cold, and I was shivering. I was weakening by the minute. I knew I had to go home. I didn’t have what it takes to give up.
I walked to my apartment and looked at my front door. Hesitantly, I pulled out my keys and unlocked the door. I went inside. It was warm there. I stared out my window one last time at the moon. It was good to be home.