I know this older lady who left her soul in every barstool across the city. She appeared to be this beautiful shade of lost with just a hint of recognition. Her eyes told this alluring story that I was interested in finding out, and I eventually did. The night I met her she told me she dreamt of being a musician. She told me everything—everything that led her to her pain and her self-inflicted demolition. And I felt for her.
“Excuse me, may I get you ladies anything?” asked the bartender.
“Two double shots of Hennessy on the rocks, please.” I replied.
Meanwhile the woman continued to confide in me like I was a new generation guardian angel who wasn’t going to damn her for being marked with a little sin. Sin for being herself. Sin for being hurt. Sin for being lost. Sin for being broken.
“And he broke me,” she continued. “He broke me.”
And I don’t know which broke my heart more, the stone dead look that appears on a human beings face after the fifth double shot of Hennessy, or the pain that lingered in the air once she spoke of him and said his name.
“Mark, he, umm, he decided that after eight years I wasn’t the one for him. He was an intellectual investment banker that embodied traces of a bad guy. He loved having control. And I gave that to him. The thought of him still allows me to feel how his fingertips felt on my body. He loved me when he owned me. He was my high school sweetheart, the love of my life. I gave up my dreams so that he could live his and over time he just became cruel to me, and I loved him anyway. And after eight years, he started cutting off his phone when I called and would flip every argument around and make things all of my fault. He went days without coming home or even checking in that I was still there. I cooked and cleaned for no one but myself. I put up with his late night fuck ups when he came home with another woman’s lipstick on his collar and I dealt with his bullshit and he, umm, decided that I wasn’t the one for him. He decided that some nineteen-year-old intern was.”
And I don’t know which broke my heart more.
The fact that this lady was consumed with thoughts about a man who probably used their love as a synonym for unrequited, or the stone dead look that appears on a human beings face after the sixth double shot of Hennessy.
This time I confided in her. I confided in her as if I found the other half of my heart in her pain and I don’t regret it.
The night I met her I told her that I was sure of two things: I was in love, and I was an aspiring writer.
“An artist in love? that sounds romantic,” she said with a splash of naivety in her voice.
Then I explained how thinking of you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. How writing your name in a tragic love story took every piece of my sanity. I explained how it felt to speak of you in metaphors and similes and I told her I had to because the remnants of our love remained in my poetry. I hold the memory of you in the lines that I write and it never gets easier.
It will never get easier.
“Is that why you drink Hennessy, to escape what that feels like?” she asked with curiosity running through her drunken vocal cords.
I guess so.
And after that night, we both started leaving our souls in every barstool across our city.