I’m lying on a bed next to this girl. She’s the kind of beautiful that I don’t come across too often; that I don’t imagine anyone comes across too often. She’s unpacking a story I told her about my childhood crush who ended up going out with my best friend. She’s running her fingers across my chest and my thin, white t-shirt might as well not be there. She’s tracing the lines around where my heart goes. Situation by Yaz is playing in the background. We’re in one of the endless rooms of a massive mansion on a palatial estate. There are two other couples in the bedroom all lying down. One of them’s her brother, he’s on a couch with a girl who’s got pink fishnets and hair so red it warms the room. Two other non-descripts are on another bed at the far side of the room. But everything is close, everyone is close. I wonder how I got here, there are subtexts floating through the air, like one of those sushi bars where everything goes by on a boat and you’re supposed to grab which one you want. None of the storylines looks more interesting than this girl whispering in my ear, saying “It’s not that girls don’t like you, obviously, it’s just that you pick the wrong ones.” Her lips brush against my ear and everything expands. “My only question is, is that on purpose?”
She slides her hand across my chest and I suddenly realize I can’t breathe. Instantly I comprehend that everyone is on something. Heroin. The matrix shifts and all of a sudden I’m in a Bret Easton Ellis novel. All these people are way too rich and much too bummed out about something. So they keep themselves laughing, as to not cry. They’ve put heroin in my drink. Is that even possible, to spike a drink with heroin? As soon as I have this thought everyone starts to laugh; they’re laughing at me. Fuck. I can’t breathe. I try and sit up but I can’t. I futilely gasp for breath and they keep laughing. I use everything I have and just as I finally peel my torso up to a sitting position, I wake up in my own bed. Alone, in the middle of the woods. Suburban woods, but woods nonetheless.
I grab my iPhone and open up the notes application and frantically begin typing in whatever key words come to me from my dream. I don’t want to forget it. There’s a book there, or at least a short story. Or maybe just some therapy.
It’s almost 1am and I notice a text waiting, from Noelle. Noelle’s a friend from middle school who lives in San Francisco. She wrote it at 7:45pm. I guess I didn’t see it. “Possibly Charlie is here,” She wrote. “At Churchkey in North Beach? And hi.”
Charlie is one of those personalities you come across rarely. Someone who sort of moves mountains, not his own but other people’s. He’s so electric that he short-circuits most of the people around him. Those who use a lesser current, that is. I have a few of these friends. I consider that a good thing, but then again, I run on a pretty high current as well. When I first introduced Charlie to Noelle, it was at a reading in Sausalito. Noelle was there with her out-of-town family, all there to see her brother read from his book of short stories. Charlie started out fine but by the time he was introduced to her mother, he broke. Or maybe he just turned on. He tried to kiss her and when he was pulled away by both Noelle and I, he spouted a garbled sonnet about her beauty. We retreated up to the loft where it would be safer for Charlie to sip from his flask and the rest of the night went marginally smoother. Needless to say, I don’t think Noelle would ever forget Charlie, so I was pretty sure it was him that she saw at Churchkey in North Beach.
I texted Noelle back even though it was one in the morning. “Did you say hi?”
Ten minutes later a text came back “No, I was waiting for you to reply. 99% sure it was him.”
“Was he with a girl? Blond?”
“Pretty sure he left with a girl. By the way it was Rogue’s Ale House, not Churchkey.”
“There’s a story there,” I typed. “But another time. Goodnight.”
I thought over what I might have had her do, if I’d received that text earlier. And it made me glad I hadn’t.
I got an email on Friday from the girl who I assume he was with at the bar. The subject line was: An Explanation. I could probably stop there. But, you can look at that so many ways. There are different facets of the phrase, ones that could take you almost anywhere you needed to go. But as I read on there was only one place it was taking me. After telling me about what real love is, how it’s different from x,y and z, and how for the first time in her life she found it, she thanked me for making it possible. She put out there that she would like to come to a point, where I could accept this and the three of us could replicate the fun we had that Saturday. And while I’m sure there was fun to be had that night, for me it was hard to find, as I sat in my bedroom listening to the laughs and whispers emanating from the next room as I tried unsuccessfully to find sleep in the early AM of that Sunday.
I hadn’t heard from her that week or the next, the girl. But I knew somehow that she had hooked up with Charlie. I told Ian the whole story the one that I documented here and here and many other places. He had introduced us, sort of, and had been someone who I had relied on for a little perspective along the way. He said I was insane when I put forth my theory that Charlie and her were now together and it was all my doing. He said that the problem with being highly intuitive is that when you get it wrong, you really get it wrong. So when I told him yesterday about the email all he could say in response was “WOW.”
By the time I got the email, it had been more than a week since her and I spoke, or since we sent a flurry of heated emails back and forth. There was something wrong, but she didn’t mention the falling in love part. She just had stuff to say about how I had treated her. Stuff I sort of agreed with. So by the time I found out “The Explanation” I had already written her off. I was bummed but I had healed up to minor abrasions and some light scarring. When I finally read through it there was a bizarre lightness and absurdity that elevated me out of potentially fatal self-pity. Had I read the email a few days earlier I might have launched into a war. But I had enough distance, enough reality to see that being the hyper-romantic fool that I am, it would be sacrilegious to say anything against “true love” no matter what cost you have to pay for it, no matter who has to pay. And if there’s one thing that I consider a sin, it’s hypocrisy. I laughed instead of crying, knowing that like those trustafarians from my dream, it’s a fine line.
The last lines of my response to her email were:
either way i’m a romantic, exponentially so. and it would be against every molecule in my soul to say anything against either of you. i like that i’m weird like that. it would be against everything I believe in to say that everything makes sense. and it ultimately doesn’t matter what I think or do, anyway. you guys are in love. I guess the consolation prize to the whole thing is an appeasement of my control issues—in a very real way I set you up and sealed my fate.
i want to write about it
i want some part in the ceremony
i want you to return the favor (find me someone magical)
i might cry at some point, but right now i just can’t stop laughing.
fuck you both, i love you very much.
“Does this mean that magic isn’t real?” I ask Ian.
“No,” he says. “It just means that it’s not real enough.”