It has a skull on it, she says about the pill in her bag. Been there for a month, waiting for the right evening.
Is tonight the night?
Yeah, maybe. But I Googled it and it’s supposed to be a high dose. All pills are these days, apparently. I’d need to take, like, a quarter…
Not enough time to recover.
Yeah, I’m babysitting at four.
I listen to their conversation and stare into the glass of wine on the shining bar top, the wine I won’t finish anyway, to avoid looking at the bartender who served it to me, in all of his dimpled glory. So far we’ve kissed a lot, mostly in U-Bahn stations and bus-stops. Very good kissing—instantaneously-warm-allover, full-body-tingle and this-could-be-my-whole-world kind of kissing—but nothing more. Yet.
I feel like a real cunt when it comes to drugs. Never snorted coke, never taken MDMA, never done acid. I like weed but it’s not a mainstay. I find cigarettes disgusting and the people who smoke them trashy. Though I’ve enjoyed many a spliff, so, hypocrite. And many a guy with that smell on their collar, in their hair, on their skin, in their mouths.
And as I walk home from the bar, I’m thinking about this, the third night of hanging around while he works—a bartender! a bar girl!—and how unsatisfying it is.
How not me.
I like to drink, I guess. It ushers me away from shyness, but it’s not a hobby. It doesn’t thrill me. And if it does thrill me, I feel scared.
Most of all for me, the hangover, the recovery, was never worth it.
But, I’m thinking about his mouth again. Thin lips set above a broad chin. Slight stubble over skin so smooth it’s verging on unjust. And then there are the freckles.
He kisses well, with eagerness, with interest. He remembers stories you tell him. This is a person you can have secret jokes with. This is a person who knows about books and movies and plays. About poems, even. He likes that you’re a writer. Maybe he would like to be a writer, too. Most importantly, though you’ve never put much thought into waltzing, this is a person who can.
I can’t help thinking, while I walk down my lovely, quiet street—the street I’ll leave in three months’ time as I slowly uproot everything that I’ve grown into a life here—hugging my mesh-clad arms against my chest, that really, it’s not worth it… Is it?
Think about the come down of love. It’s no different than all the other shit I look down my nose at. Your Wednesday night at Sisyphos. Your Berghain weekend. Your Becherovka shots. Your self-induced vomit, holding your own hair up, until you fall back asleep. Your close-to coma. Your three days off work without doctor’s note. Your missing school. Your cranberry juice, your egg yolk, your hair of the dog.
Is love really all that different? I mean, is this really all that different?
I wanted to open myself up to every experience and finally, after so much time, I feel brave. I’m holding the surgeon’s hand, tracing a line across my chest where the knife should cut and making a come-hither motion. I’m waiting. I’m ready.
I’m so ready for it to fail. I’ve imagined the failing as much as the happening, as much as the happiness. It’s only begun and I’m already exhausted.
I feel too young to be the same age my mom was when she met my dad. Twenty-six, Austrian, visiting Las Vegas with her best friend. She’s not a traditional knock-out but she’s already becoming the most charming person in the room. The guy working in the lobby, on the other hand, is “dangerously handsome.” Tall, fair, blonde, blue-eyed. He speaks perfect German.
And he likes her.
They married three months later, a small civil ceremony at a German community center in a town no one can remember the name of now. They moved into the top floor of a two-story Victorian and opened a restaurant below. They traveled often. They got drunk. They had me.
But if you dare refer to it as a “romantic” story, my mom will warn, angrily: I was so stupid. She loved Meatloaf and she would do anything for love. So she stuck by a man who bankrupted both of them, who sold her family keepsakes for drugs, who fucked woman after woman after woman. Who didn’t give a shit about his daughter. Who, favorite child that he was, managed to push his burdens onto everyone else.
He was a failure. An alcoholic. A bartender.
But dimples, am I right?
I wonder if you stop crying at a certain age, but if my mom is any indication, the answer is no. Maybe I identify with her too much. I am, after all, a slightly more evolved creature and have the benefit of learning from generations of typos that came before. Mistaken men and the women who traditionally bear the white-out.
When you make a mistake, thank God for the lesson!
I thought that the hardest part about leaving would be being alone. It’s not. It’s finding someone else that I like more, that I’m more afraid to lose. It’s thinking about the great big blackness, the inevitability lurking ahead.
It’s moving into an Altbau of my own. A loft fifth-floor castle no one wants to visit anymore.
Walking through rooms with bare feet, sliding across hardwood in a quiet hiss. Lights off because I know the corners, can touch the walls and count off one by one: bedroom, living room, hall. Kitchen, bathroom, light.
Mirror. Black eyes. Red cheeks. Capillaries bursting.
I feel that I am tottering on a plank, and with the slightest blow of the wind could fall to either side.
On one: inspiration, encouragement, productivity, art.
On the other: I give up everything just to be in his presence.
Just to have this face to look at, this mouth to kiss.
Remember when we were girls, roaming by foot and getting milkshakes in Lyons, Colorado?
We were young and free and happy. We had each other. We had fresh air, sunlight, music, dance, safety, parents, mandolins. We had enough change for a hotdog at the soda bar. (There really was a soda bar.)
But when I think about the sun setting on the red rock mountains, the dusty yellow color of the sky falling across the little blue buildings that made up our treasured Main Street, I feel most strongly the deep sense of longing that pervaded it all.
The feeling of never being kissed. Of giggling when another blonde-haired, blue-eyed dream asks if you’re ticklish. The kind of emptiness it is possible to feel late at night, in a sleeping bag, with headphones on, curled up around a Discman.
A loss of something you haven’t yet touched, and what it was to hold the weight of ALL GOOD THINGS in one hand—the music, the milkshakes, the best friend—and being willing to drop them all the moment adventure reared its ugly, sexy, dimpled head.
Demi Anter’s writing has appeared in ROPES, Mojo and Women Writing Berlin Lab Magazine(forthcoming), and was featured on this year’s Poetry Jukebox in Belfast, NI. She has performed at Glastonbury Festival, and will appear at Electric Picnic and Edinburgh Fringe in 2019. She lives in Berlin with her cat, Gus. Visit www.demianter.com for more.