“Choke me in the shallow water, before I get too deep…”

Drew is not answering my phone calls. I suspect he is rather angered at my having plans on Halloween, even if they aren’t of the standard male company variety. I would try to explain it if he seemed even remotely interested. But he wasn’t. On the bright side, I’m only slightly worried about the mischief he’s going to get into. Halloween is a lazy susan of harlots but I believe he’s rather sweet on me.

I had a dream about him last night. We were on an airplane together and for some reason the only music was Edie Brickell. He was drinking Heineken after Heineken and I was drinking white zinfandel, both of us angered at the relentless playing of “What I Am.” Eventually it became funny, the two of us laughing so hard tears rolled down our cheeks. This was probably only because we were getting blitzed, but there are few things more fun than getting drunk on an airplane.

I was dismayed upon waking up. I do so enjoy seeing him smile. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. He promised me a curry lunch this week, but with things the way they are at the moment, I probably won’t even see him until the weekend. Sometimes I feel like he’s attempting to condition me, always having some point to make, some minor punishment to deliver when things don’t go the way he desires.

In an interesting turn of events however, Jack showed up yesterday. I don’t know what it is about my attempting something new with someone else that makes all my exes want to come crawling back into my life like jewel thieves. But it makes everything increasingly more difficult. I feel like they are all in cahoots, secretly on a mission to toy with me, to toss my feelings about like some kind of macabre juggling act.

I sat on my bed, watching Jack carefully break up bits of weed and tuft them into a wide-rimmed bowl of a blue-black glass pipe. I studied him for that moment, for it seemed just like every other Jack moment.

He had a longish face, with full, quasi-pouty lips that could snarl themselves into the most unattractive positions or smile so warm I could become putty in his arms. At this moment he wrapped those lips around the end of the pipe, flicked the lighter and sucked while the embers burned brightly. This is how I always saw Jack.

He scratched the bits of a goatee that peppered his face and stuck his tongue out at me, handing me the pipe. I took it, reluctantly, and did what I usually did in this situation. I took the slightly moistened end between my lips, flicked the lighter, and pretended to smoke. Just puffing long enough to crackle the ember and then letting go. Barely any smoke escaped from my mouth and he looked at me disapprovingly. This time, I think I was caught.

His image was arresting. He had long slender fingers and sweet hazel eyes.  We had dated a few years ago, a good seven months or so that in the end turned out to be a fun and memorable waste of my time. I didn’t know if it was because he was a pothead, because he didn’t have a steady job, or just was generally not easy to trust. In retrospect, it was probably all three, plus a few others I couldn’t think of now.

We had our run-of-the-mill good and bad times, neither side ever really outdoing the other. We laughed a lot together but didn’t talk so much. We had good sex but we never fell asleep in each others’ arms.

One summer, once or twice we found ourselves on hallucinogens at the boardwalk on the beach, clutching tightly to each other, pupils like saucers, finding both horror and delight in the phantoms that were painting scenes for us like watercolors. We had a handful of pleasant experiences, but there was no fundamental good that had come from our relationship. He taught me nothing. Things that I had tried to show him had dissolved and drifted away just as fast as they had been introduced.

It wasn’t what I needed. But now, here he was, wearing that worn gray sweatshirt that I used to sleep in on cold winter nights, smelling of weakening cologne and the smoke between us, his hand on my knee.

“Love you, punk,” he said now quietly, his fingers creeping up my knee, resting on my thigh. Although parts of me felt the same, his words were cheap and carried little weight. I don’t know how many girls he had loved in his life, but becoming part of his life had been easy and leaving it had not been. Every six months or so, he would consistently call me a few times a week attempting to get together. At this point he had moved on, started seeing somebody new and was presently living with her.

Her name was Melissa, and she was a slender Latina woman a few years older than I. She had a child, worked fulltime, and I imagine paid most of their bills. He claimed to be unhappy, swore up and down and around the world that he never slept with her and that he pined for me— “the one that got away.”

In my head those words are embossed in silver, written in jet black calligraphy. It’s the ultimate compliment. It’s masturbation for the healthiest of egos. But I felt wretched. I was empty. I had no more to give to him. Nor did I feel that I wanted to give him any more than I had. I pushed his hand down back to my knee and gave it a light pat.

“I know,” I said, smiling a sympathetic smile. To be honest, I didn’t know, and that was partially why I was being so distant. I had been here before. I mean, I was still as attracted to him as ever, and it was difficult to not become a victim to his advances. But I thought about Daniel and the other night and that sinking feeling in my stomach was growing at rapid speeds.

I was exhausted from feeling this way day after day after day. Exhausted of feeling like I was endlessly searching for someone to love and being rewarded with flighty, physical attention all wrapped up in pretty bows. Drew didn’t love me, Daniel didn’t love me and I was pretty fucking sure Jack didn’t love me. Sure, they desired me, sure they liked me; I was fun, could always hold my alcohol, had a raging sex drive.

I removed his hand, stood up and asked him to leave. I dialed Drew’s number and immediately got the voicemail. I didn’t want to agonize over the ins and outs. Whether he was with someone else or just didn’t want to answer… it didn’t matter.

I don’t love anyone. And maybe I should stop trying.


2 Responses to ““Choke me in the shallow water, before I get too deep…””

  1. October 31, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Sad… forlorn.. longing… There is, however, always hope. No matter how little.


  2. 2 B-Town
    May 7, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    ‘Halloween is a lazy susan of harlots…’

    ‘…a good seven months or so that in the end turned out to be a fun and memorable waste of my time.’

    ‘In my head those words are embossed in silver, written in jet black calligraphy.’

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