Here I sit, my hair curled, my eyes lashed in mascara, I am smiling and I look like anyone else. We sit in a group. The picture of a typical group of friends who found each other and got stuck in their habits. This is ‘our’ bar. We come here every Friday before they turn the music up too loud and it’s time for us to go to the next place we feel comfortable in. The beer is gross but it’s cheap and we get our first one free.
We rant about our days and we flirt with the idea that we want change but we know that’s all bullshit, and as long as we keep meeting up and keep getting free beer; nothing will change. We are comfortable. Yeah, we itch and twitch every now and then but change takes commitment. Sometimes we have amazing nights. We’ll just keep going and hope that tonight turns out to be one of the rare ones.
I’ve had a bad day, there’s been news from home that sits heavy in my stomach and threatens to throw itself up into the conversation. I know this is dangerous. We’re all fine as long as we skirt around the big stuff. Our group thrives on the ability to sweep a hell of a lot of shit under a really heavy duty rug. Don’t look under that thing. Don’t talk about it. Don’t look at it. Have another beer. We’ll forget soon enough.
I look around the table and wonder how many of these people actually know or even like me?
It’s just getting a hell of a lot harder, ya know? I’m finding it hard to maintain my manic pixie dream girl persona and slip into the actual mess of a human I am. I know all of this will shatter if I admit I am more than just patterned dresses and home dyed hair. You have to be having fun…all the time. These are the best years of our life. We are young and the beer is really, really cheap!
I snap myself out of the reverie I’m in and join in on the surface level conversation. We are so vibrant. Our chat peppered with film and music references, we talk about sex and the universe and never get too close to anything ‘real’. I go out for a cigarette and I’m well and truly drunk now. My friend catches a look in my eyes and tells me not to dwell on any of that ‘shit’.
“I got a feeling about tonight, tonight’s going to be a good one!” She whispers in my ear and we giggle together. Before I follow her back inside.
I shove that “shit” back down inside of me. Like bile.
The bar turns the music up until we can’t hear each other anymore and we all collectively moan.
“TO THE NEXT PUB!”
We stumble out into the night, ruddy cheeks and beer breath, arms wrapped around each other as we agree that “Tonight is THE night…” it’s going to be a big one. We’re not finished yet.
The next pub is blurry. My laugh buzzes in my ears and my lungs are filled with smoke. I’m holding hands with someone and they are passionately singing along to a Bruce Springsteen song. I’m feeling good. Maybe tonight IS the night.
I make eye contact with the boy I am secretly in love with and look away. I’m not ready for that.
There is a black space between the last pub and the bench we are stood around. We pass around a can of disgusting WHITE ACE cider that causes each unwilling participant to shudder in disgust. It’s a game called ‘sippers’. I don’t actually know the rules. NOBODY KNOWS THE RULES! We just pass it around the group each taking a sip. Before heading to the grossest nightclub in town.
We enter and it smells bad. I wrinkle my nose and stumble around until I know I’m at the bar and I order two shots of sambucca for myself. I neck them in one and whirl around to a song I vaguely know. I find my group and we move as one organism to the dance floor, grabbing each other, falling over one moment, reaching into the sky the next.
I slip away to watch them all. I see my friend making out with a bearded man double her age. I see the boy I secretly love kiss his girlfriend. I see people laughing all glass eyed as another terrible song starts. I feel the loneliness rise up inside of me as the ‘shit’ I keep shoving down starts bubbling away inside my stomach and I don’t want to kill the vibe of the night so I leave.
I am too drunk to make this next decision but instead of going home I go by myself to another bar. I don’t recall what I order and I don’t remember how but I start talking to a stranger and we head to the marina to find a bench. I don’t remember the strangers face or anything they say but I pour my heart out to them. All of the ‘shit’ inside of me comes spilling out and before I know it my darkest fears and most secret secrets are in the air around us, in the open floating around, finally freed.
There is more dark space. I am alone, the stranger has left. I stare at the water and wonder wether I am happy. I wonder if maybe change would be good. I feel slightly lighter. I thank the stranger, in my head and hope to God that I never see them again.
I notice light in the ripples, it must be nearly dawn. I have numerous missed calls on my phone but I ignore it. I throw my shoes into the water and stumble home…