Sunday 9:10 am March 7
I never thought that I would be the kind of person I am today. My mother would not be proud. The first train of the day still hasn't arrived and I've been waiting for over an hour. I'm standing on the subway platform wearing precisely the same clothes from the previous night. Strangers keep looking at me. My hair is flat on one side, my shirt is untucked, wrinkled; my tie is loose and half on. I smell of sex and alcohol. It's blatantly obvious to everyone around me that I'm on the morning-after ride of shame.
I step on the train and take a seat beside an old lady. She's wearing a white floral Sunday dress. She's probably on her way to church to pray for my sins. I graciously smile at her. She judgmentally shakes her head and gets up to find another seat. Self-righteous old hag. A happy couple sitting across from me giggle at her antagonistic gesture. I respond by shrugging my shoulders. They continue to laugh for a bit, but eventually lose interest and go back to “being in love”. Condescending pricks. Near the subway doors, there is a small group of white teenagers. They are all wearing pants that are at least 4 sizes too big and flat brim baseball caps tilted to the side. The most obnoxious one of the bunch is wearing one of those “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirts. They all approvingly nod at me. Obvious virgins.
If I had taken a cab, I could have avoided all this. Truth be told, I'm too cheap for that. I'd rather save the twenty dollar cab fare and essentially “face the music” – or in this case, the judgmental and condescending/approving looks from the Sunday morning subway commuters. I loathe each and every single one of them. But still deep down, a part of me craves this ride; like a sort of self-inflicted penance. I know it would have been wiser to cut my losses at last call and head home, but instead I kept going. The rush of the night was just too tempting; somewhere in the last twelve hours I ended up here. Again.
Sunday 7:40 a.m March 7
I wake up in a cold sweat. I'm fully naked. I'm laying on an uncomfortable white futon mattress. There aren't even sheets on this futon. The pillow that I'm resting my head on is stained and has no cover. I look up at the ceiling and notice stars painted on them. This is all very unfamiliar to me. I need to get a better sense of what exactly is going on, so I look around. The room is decorated with over-exposed photographs, self painted art and empty wine bottles. This isn't my bed and this certainly isn't my room. I feel someone next to me and I turn to them for answers. I find a mascara-drenched stranger snoring beside me. Her saliva is running down the side of her mouth and her face is completely covered by all her hair. I don't recognize this individual. She, too, is completely naked and also smells of alcohol and sex (in all likelihood, both my doing). I wonder exactly who this stranger is. As I fully start to awaken, the night that preceded this morning slowly starts to come back to me. I begin to recall being introduced to this stranger by a friend of a friend of friend. I recollect complimenting her on her style and disarming her with my witty words (the benefits of being a writer). She was fully impressed and engaged by my pseudo comedic intellectual banter. I also remember leaving the club with her. After that, the rest of the night is lost to me.
As I lay staring at the ceiling, I wonder to myself how I got here. I contemplate waking her for another round, but her smell and unfamiliarity turn me off. It's probably better to just leave. There's no point in waking her and making an already awkward situation even worse. Although, judging by the smell of cheap wine that emanates from her side of the bed, even the Santa Claus parade marching band couldn't wake her. Some Bolivian marching powder probably would.
As she lies there fast asleep, I mentally plan my escape route. I need to make as little noise as possible while making my exit to ensure I don't wake her. She's curled up away from me and her back is towards the door. I shake her a little and softly whisper, “Hey, are you awake? I'm going to get going”. She mutters something incoherent under her breath, but she doesn't move from her fetal position. She's still completely passed out. Excellent. I let out a sigh of relief. Goodbye hugs and kisses are definitely not in order. In fact the exact opposite is to be expected after this type of escapade.
With as little movement as possible, I lift my naked body from her cheap Ikea futon. My feet hit her cold apartment floor. I stumble a little. The little light through her bedroom window allows me to locate my clothes. Her bedroom looks like an entire section of Value Village exploded in it. Either that or she was recently homeless and hasn't had the time to purchase a new wardrobe. Or pillow covers. Or bed sheets. Or self-respect. I'm half proud and half disgusted at my behaviour. I gather the rest of my things and begin to get dressed. I quickly and quietly slip on my clothes from the previous night. I turn my underwear inside out. It's important to maintain good hygiene at all times. Although, this certainly is a weak attempt at best. My shirt and pants are completely wrinkled and smell, of course, of alcohol and sex. I don't have time to properly put on my tie. I just want to fast forward this morning and get the fuck out of here.
As I slowly tip-toe around the maze of clothes on her apartment floor, I can’t help but wonder how many of these nights she has had. Judging by the Costco-sized box of condoms she openly had resting on her bookshelf, one too many this side of an S.T.I. I really should be more responsible and make an appointment at the clinic. I've been putting it off for some time. I've been going in there four to six times a year for the last three years. The fact that front desk attendant knows my name is actually quite disconcerting. Part of me is scared to find out the results, but I do it anyways to give my life some semblance of structure and responsibility. I've either become my best self or my worst self. Earlier in the night I was certain I was my best self, but at this point in time, I am definitely the latter. I am the person my mother never wanted me to become. I lie to myself on a nightly basis, convincing myself that the pursuit of pleasure is akin to the pursuit of happiness, or even remotely close. My dreams and goals have been substituted by emotional numbness and one night stands. Dear Jesus, I'm sorry.
Just under a decade ago, I had a different idea of love and relationships. I used to be the kind of person that went to dinners and movies and glow-in-the-dark mini-putt. I use to even cuddle after sex. I believed in great conversations and lifelong connections. I was the kind of person that never slept with anyone on a first date. There was even a time when I believed that love came before sex. Eventually... Inevitably, someone broke my heart and I lessened my expectations. Now, several heartbreaks later, that whole concept of love before sex seems utterly ridiculous. If I slept with someone for the first time and they told me they loved me right after, I would consider them a stage five clinger. I would think they malfunctioned emotionally and be inclined to block them from my BBM. And none of my friends would blame me. We would all laugh and scoff at this stranger and their misplaced ideals of love and sex. When did I become so desensitized to this city life that it's become easier to sleep with a stranger than to ask them to go see a movie?
As I walk out this stranger's door, I have a small moment of self-reflection. I don't have many of these anymore; I don't want my old self to meet my new self. Somewhere between that first broken heart and now, I convinced myself that my old ideals were naïve, and that these new ones were more realistic. I began to live for the nights I can't remember to try get over a past I can't seem to forget. I felt that a collection of these nights would somehow fill the void that someone had left behind. I think to myself, maybe I should crawl back into bed with this stranger. Maybe this stranger will bring promises of old times, of teenaged romance, of pillow conversations and movie dates. I will have a one night stand with her and wake up the next morning in love. I will inform her that I never have this type of evening, and she will say the same. But this stranger is emblematic of the problem. The problem is, for one reason or another, I believe that these nightly escapades will end in meeting the kind of girl who is not the kind of girl that partakes in these nightly escapades. Maybe I should have just stuck to my Catholic school upbringing and kept going to church on Sundays. If I did, maybe this old lady would not have switched seats and instead she would have shook my hand. Maybe I'd be in a loving relationship instead of turning away the right girl for the wrong one in lieu of chasing the cool. Maybe I wouldn't be emotionally numb and actually have someone to hit golf balls with in the dark. Maybe then, Jesus would actually be my homeboy just like that t-shirt read. Because deep down, I know I won’t meet my personal saviour at any after-hours venue, but – inexplicably – I still keep going.