This is a not so loving letter to alcohol.
I almost feel like this next part of what happened that night in NYC in 2008 needs to be addressed to the alcohol that was consumed that night, so here we go...
To the many drinks I had that night,
Damn it. I should have known not to have so much, because you and I don’t mix well, and you remind me of that every time.
It was supposed to be a fun filled night out on the town, with light drinks followed by dancing, and it felt like it would be a fun night of me taking on NYC with Devon; an adventure that I secretly hoped would magically reconnect us after all we’d been through and so many months feeling like we were on the verge of separation. We’d be with my best friend Daniel and his soon to be fiancée Lana, and we even had Daniel’s step brother there, who I’d met in Vegas almost 10 years before, so it was on track to be a wonderful night. Until you had to get involved and mess everything up.
I was nervous to see Daniel and meet his girl Lana, so what always helps me? You, alcohol; until you don’t help, you hinder. And you created havoc that night.
What I remember from the night is the taxi ride on the way over, looking at Devon and not having much to say, being partially excited to introduce him to Daniel, but then again, it made me sad that I wasn’t as sure about Devon being my “One” as he was about Lana being his. That’s all I’d wanted for what felt like my entire life, to love and be loved, but what I had with Devon didn’t match what I saw on tv or read in books about love. Love was supposed to feel warm, fuzzy and unconditional, like I could be my crazy self and not be perfect without the fear of being left or made fun of. But with Devon I felt like my self love had shrunk to a level that I could hardly see or feel.
That night in NYC we met at a tiny bar that had an entrance door that appeared out of nowhere. You blinked and missed it walking by. You went down some stairs when you entered and emerged into a narrow space with dim lights and on either side of the room was a row of booth seats against the wall and stools facing the center. The bar was immediately to the right when you walked in and the bathrooms were down at the end. The music playing was a soft jazz and it was loud enough to be noticeable but quiet enough that you could comfortably talk with your neighbor beside you or across the table, but not any further.
We started the night with Devon across the table from me, Daniel next to me, lana next to him, and his step brother and fiancée sitting next to Devon. It was awkward for everyone except Daniel and I, because we were chatting up a storm, and clearly enjoying ourselves, while our periphery neighbors looked on with glazed eyes. I knew we needed to shake things up, so I switched seats with Daniel so I was sitting next to lana and I began to pull out all the let’s get to know each other conversation starters I could, and it just wasn’t working. She was cold to me throughout our cocktail hour and I was excited to leave our location and hit the dance floor that Daniel promised us. I don’t think Lana enjoyed hearing about Daniel and I’s pact we’d made to get married or our pact that we’d need to approve of each other’s partner before we got married or our pact of being on Oprah together (for who knows what reason). She just didn’t want to like me, so I decided it was a great night for you alcohol.
Now I don’t remember much after this point, but I do remember continually trying to put my purse down in a corner on the dance floor so I could dance, and both Devon and Daniel going over and picking it up telling me that bars in NYC aren’t the same as bars in my hometown where everyone’s got your back. Here, it seemed the only ones who had my back where Daniel and Devon and they were getting tired.
From there, approximately 3 hours went by that I couldn’t account for thanks to you alcohol. I knew vaguely what time we left the first bar by the time on my receipt, and I could tell what time we left by when the taxi was called from my phone to get us back to Daniel’s. I don’t think it was me ordering that taxi.
I woke up when I saw the daylight coming in from the small window in Daniels room. I’d ended up on the side of the bed that was against the wall, so I needed to crawl over Devon’s sleeping body to get to the bathroom and get some water. When I reached the bathroom and looked at myself I knew what kind of night it had been. I had been too drunk to wash my face, brush my teeth or change fully out of my clothes. I had my bra and pants still on. I peeled off my remaining clothes and turned on the shower to get the bathroom full of steam. I got into Daniels small stand up shower and washed my body and face with the bar soap I found in the dish.
I wondered what had happened last night. It must not have been so bad because I made it back with my cell phone and purse that night, but I wondered how I’d said goodbye to Daniel and Lana. Were we meeting for breakfast or anything? I was embarrassed I had to wonder and sad that I didn’t remember my hug with Daniel if that going to be the last I’d see him in a few months for the 13 years we’d known each other we’d been good about our friendship and seldom did an entire year pass without a visit.
After my shower I returned to the bedroom with a glass of water and sat on the side of the bed beside Devon. I stroked his shoulder a few times to lovingly offer him some water and he looked up at me with swollen eyes and complete confusion.
“Good morning” I said cheerfully.
And he said nothing but just stared at me.
“What’s up? Are you okay?” I asked
“You don’t remember last night do you” he said with a bone chilling tone.
“You broke up with me and said you never wanted to see me again after we woke up.”
“Whoa. I did?”
It’s hard to explain what happened next; it was like my world was crumbling around me because of me, but I didn’t know what I’d said or done to bring about the changes that were unfolding. Devon was almost speechless about the events that happened the night before and we had a mostly quiet long drive from the city to the Hampton’s. I’d try to bring up what happened and Devon would just look at me and either say enough with his eyes, or he’d put his hand gently up to let me know he couldn’t discuss it yet.
It took Daniel two days to answer any of my text messages, and all he said was, “I’ll talk to you when I’m ready and it’s on my time.”
What did I say and do? I still to this day don’t have a clear answer.
But thanks to that night I don’t remember with alcohol, my life completely changed. Devon and I struggled to get through my friends wedding without giving away the mess we were in. We moved around each other cordially, he skipped out in all dancing and took a cab back early to the house we were all renting. I just told friends he wasn’t feeling well. Not the time to tell friends that I’d been wasted a few days before and had broken up with him and apparently my best friend, without any memory whatsoever of it.
So alcohol, I Devon and I were not the right fit, but did it really have to get so nasty? Fortunately that’s when I really began to take doctors suggestions seriously that I not drink a lot due to my brain injury. It effects me 10x as hard.
Devon and I did have a clean breakup, meaning we were done after that, although the emotional aftermath for us both was pretty ugly, and we did have 1 rendezvous 4 months later in Vermont. Maybe that helped soften some of the trauma from whatever happened. But I do have Devon to thank for me having the courage to go on my first backpacking trip to se Asia for a month. I was secretly hoping thanks to Facebook, Devon would see through mutual friends that I was going, but who knows.
And as for Daniel, it took almost 6 years for him to talk to me again and we saw each other for the first time at his mothers funeral in Chicago over 8 years after that night. He married Lana and they have two beautiful children. He’ll be meeting my daughter this Fall in Chicago so I wonder if someday I’ll have the courage to ask what happened that night.
Or perhaps some things are left in the past.
It’s been a long and beautiful full first day of our vacation, and tomorrow is our anniversary, and that’s perfect.
Thanks for all the experiences alcohol ❤️