I left Las Vegas with the wind in my hair and an empty head. The morning that followed the evening with Billy was painful and short-lived, with little discussion, no bad coffee or goodbye kisses. Sonia didn’t have much to say either, which comforted me. Billy held me tightly for a long moment, holding the back of my head, whispering in my ear to keep in touch. I had no urge to cry, and I was thankful and proud for that.
We got in the car and I let her play the music loud and it forced me to think. I thought about the bar at home, I thought about my mother and Man Ray and Vincent and all the things I did have waiting for me. Most days I seemed to focus on the things I didn’t have—a functional relationship, a good job, a circle of friends that I could just call and talk to or spend time with when I wanted to. I was always on the hunt for these things, but not actively. I spent a lot of energy complaining, moping, feeling sorry for myself. I kept my eyes open but I never really saw anything.
It was then, during those hours of agonizing punk music and clouds of marijuana, that I decided I didn’t want Drew, I didn’t want James, Johnny or even Billy, no matter how much I still loved him. I didn’t need a man to complete my life, and moreover, one never really would. If I wanted to improve my situation, I had to act myself, for myself. I couldn’t just spin the wheel o’ boys and expect whoever I landed on to be the answer to my problems. Maybe I had used them all as a means to my end, a selfish answer to boredom and my own feelings of inadequacy and overinflated ego as the result.
I started imagining reinventing my life in whatever ways I could, I considered moving, getting another job, saying goodbye to anyone that happened to still be around. Maybe I wouldn’t need something so drastic, but then again, maybe I would. I could feel the chemicals still pulsing through my blood but I wasn’t adding to them, so it was liberating and made me feel like I was detoxing.
I looked over at Sonia, whose eyes were nearly closed from the high, smiling, singing, in her own world. I wondered if we would remain friends or if this trip would just fade away in both of our memories. Had I been using her as well? I wanted friends but never really cared enough to do the work required in finding ones I wanted to keep or use the energy even trying.
I chewed on my hair and picked my nails, finding new ways to fidget, thinking, thinking, thinking. I wanted to tell Vincent how I felt myself growing, but upon deliberation I decided he was growing himself, in a completely different way, away from me and I wondered how good or bad a thing that was. I knew he was in love with me, and the parts of me that knew he knew me best wanted to feel that way but never fully could. At times, when my mind was at its darkest and most weak, I thought about his wrinkled hands on my body, his warm, scratchy chin in my neck and it gave me the shivers. So it was unfair of me to love him in a half-ass sense, unfair of me to expect from him seamless, unfettered loyalty, unfair of me to resent him for loving someone who loved him back.
I was going home with my convictions and for the first time ever, I was excited to meet my demons.