Mistakes you’ve been making a hundred times, you’ve been making them since adolescence. Drinking and savoring it and worshipping the derangement of it. Heroes like Kerouac, whom you willfully forget ended up with a liver implosion.
Mistakes like hunting for the perfect person to fill that gap in yourself, that ‘black hole with teeth,’ that may not, in fact, be real.
Mistakes of too-late nights, watching the bartender dismally, or wistfully–you aren’t really sure which is which anymore–swipe your credit card again. Up and down, like someone drawing venom from a pacified snake.
Mistakes like insomnia, like quitting yoga halfway through for a smoke. Mistakes like another addict in your bed, everyone looking elsewhere. Another line of mascara on your pillow, making an uncanny mirror of your own face, should it have been turned inside out and shaken.
Mistakes of eating not-quite-right, just a bit on the fried-side, for convenience sake, even though the bloat days afterwards distress you. Mistakenly doing laundry in a basement alone, you can’t stand the haunting clang of the pipes, and of running laps of the washing machines so that you can convince yourself you did something today other than ditch work for pursuits you convinced yourself were capital-A Adult, but are really just maintaining.
Mistakes like the cycle of the lust for strangers, intoxicating but you can spit it out too, you’ll have to, like mouthwash left too long in the sun. And kissing too soon, thats a big one.
Mistakes like the consistent bristling at the thought of settling down, of spending a night looking inward: a night in a book, a night in senseless meditation where you release mind from body. Purges like this, you can bristle at them, and remove yourself with another pricey drink, another nod at a stranger as a tacit plea to be gentle this time, for instance. And you can keep it going, like a child in a closet slipping on masks, and wondering if the mirror will change them.
But you’ll be exhausted, twenty-four, twenty-five, and exhausted, like a chipped dun shell careening down a sandy slope, past the disarming refuse of nostalgia, past the intricacies of your parents’ model for love (how for 35 years did they keep it all so perfect?) and you can land on the rock by the slow, slow surf, the lowest point before the true nadir, from which you know you’d never recover.
But then something can happen. You can find the person you once sought so passionately you wrote poems about them, even though you detest poetry with the core of your very being. How it feels to be with this person again, now, as the last winter of your 20’s approaches, is something like this: it will feel like it has been decades since your first passionate encounter what will feel like decades before, or longer, in the last mad passion of youth, and here you are again, for a final period of convalescence. Both of you have raged and played so furiously, with such empty glee, you will find yourselves dizzy and will imagine you are ridden with a host of diseases yet incurable. And yet you’ll take their old body in your bony arms and hold it by the firelight. It will be very late now. And you’ll sleep like beautiful children.