The music was loud and great, the alcohol felt tingly. I ran into you in the crowd. You were stumbling because you were so drunk. You cock a smile at me and I place my hands on your chest.
“Hey,” I said softly, but you probably only saw me mouth it. The music drowned out whispers of drug dealings and I love you’s.
We didn’t say a word after that. We drunk kissed and lost our friends. The whole time standing in the crowd, listening to the rapper shouting at us to jump, to scream louder, your body was next to mine. I felt your vibration distinctly from the bass. Yours was more powerful, and I couldn’t focus on anything but it.
We were desperately trying to find our friends after the show. You grew snarky and cussed under your breath. The whole time you were silently holding my hand. You probably didn’t even notice, with the way you alertly looked around and walked this way and that, pulling me along. I was enjoying myself even though I should have been distressed too. There were people everywhere and everyone was getting rowdy. Sweaty, big drunk guys were shouting obscene things and laughing. Short plump girls with messy hair hooked arm in arm were fast walking with pissed expressions. I heard sobbing and a faint sound of the ambulance from a distance.
I looked at you like you were the only thing that mattered that night. And you were. The way you frustratedly ran your free hand through your dark hair. The way you scorned at the people pushing past us.
All the while holding my hand.
And of course, hand holding is a simple act. Girl friends hold hands, parents hold their children’s tiny hands, and lovers do. Lovers do. Is that what we were? Late night lovers?
We left and hoped to run into our friends at the subway station. We went down the streets. The city skyscrapers illuminated not like the stars, no, but in a more earthly way.
We climbed down the dense staircase that lead to the subway station. When the train arrived you lead and I followed, squeezing down the crowded and narrow isle with polite excuse me’s and sorry’s. I’m awfully bubbly when I’m drunk. I’m bubbly when I’m sober too—but especially when I’m drunk. I giggled when we sat down, the red metal feeling sticky and cool. I felt like I was a melting ice cream cone as I sat there. You peered over at me as I stared straight ahead at the safety instructions on the wall. Then you started to laugh, seeing how far gone I was. Suddenly you weren’t so mad anymore.
Stop after stop we stayed on. I wasn’t sure which one to get off at, and neither were you. I slowly fell asleep from exhaustion, eyelids fluttering in my attempts to stay awake. I slumped onto you, my head on your shoulder. Through my flutters I saw you admire the softness in me. This sort of love you looked at me with, which wasn’t exactly love, was our version of love. Generation Z’s version of love. Z-love for short. It’s a feeling you’re aware is serious and can be fatal if you delve any deeper. Looking at someone with Z-love is dangerous. You knew any love past Z would destroy you, so it never could be anything more than Z when you looked at me.
I thought I loved you then. And in some bizarre way, I still love you now. Not real and true love though, but in a Z-love kind of way. I still hold you close, hoping one day when you’re ready to love past Z you’ll come find me.