If I were drunk in a room with everyone I’ve ever loved, I’m not sure where I’d run.
Perhaps it would depend on what I was drinking. Maybe if it were vodka, I’d bolt towards “E”. Remembering all those times our bodies mixed under the guise of mixed drinks. And our breaths would be a cocktail of Tito’s and Macallan. Maybe I would make myself believe that was the right choice and be content in my drunken stupor. The mess I made of things would fall away and all that would be left would be the good. The easy times of college. None of the hard decisions, not one of my mistakes. Not his jealous tendencies or my quick temper. Just the floating on a cloud of puffy white lies we told each other—it was wrong timing rather than us not being right for each other. The alcohol would wash everything away but the feelings that we thought were so important. His love was vodka.
Maybe it would be determined by the type of drunk I got. If it were the sad kind of tipsy where you can’t help but get nostalgic, I’d have a straight shot towards “A”. He always made the bad feel good. I wanted to stay inside the sadness when we were together, so it would only make sense the despondence would bring me back to him. I would be right back there. Back to 15 years old when my happiness was held in the hands of a juvenile boy. My slack mouth would drip with flowery words of attachment as my eyes dripped with the same salt he always evoked. And it would all feel like it meant something, our tragic love story that I never seemed to let go. His love was sad.
If wine were my pick of poison before entering the room, I would run to “P”. I would throw on a lazy smile and pretend I didn’t see him looking at everyone else but me. I’d stride over and kiss his cheek, knowing he’d grab my waist and take me home to his bed. It would feel dangerous and wrong but the wine would make my thoughts hush. He would say the right things that didn’t necessarily touch my heart but the alcohol would make the dopamine flow and I would convince myself he was the one. His touch would hit me in all the right places. He’d whisper things that were both loving and naughty and I would beg for more of it. I wouldn’t think of the morning and the dread that came with the hangover. I’d simply let him climb inside my body and I could let myself believe that love came from a superficial touch. His love was wine.
Drunk on loneliness and probably fresh off a joint, I would choose “Z”. Mistaking drugs for the feeling of comfort, his arms would feel like home. It wouldn’t matter that I wanted him to quit smoking so I could quit too. I’d just revel in the high I got from him paying attention to me. When I drink and feel like needing to end up next to someone, he’s the one I think of. I wouldn’t think of his love as wasted time, I would be satisfied with the feeling of familiarity. The future wouldn’t be taken into account if I ended up with him in the room—the feeling of outgrowing him with each day that passed afterwards. I would enjoy it for the moment, the crossfade giving me a pretty way of keeping the sound out. His love was loneliness.
Beer could touch my lips and I know who would be my pick. I’d have my favorite six pack and immediately see “R”. He was like having a cold drink with your best friend. I would laugh as he picked me up and kissed my forehead. And that would be enough to make me forget about the lies and the dysfunction between us—all the things we kept hidden from one another in order to keep up the facade of the perfect relationship. We’d have the happy kind of reminiscing and the Miller Lite would have us chuckling at our innocence and naivety. I could look past how he hurt me and the things he said when he thought I stopped listening to the gossip back in that town. The alcohol would keep us from thinking that running back to each other meant running backwards. And we wouldn’t even think about how a relit cigarette never tastes the same or any other cliches about rekindling old flames. His love was beer.
But if I were given the option to be sober in the room, I wouldn’t run to any of them. I would find the people whose love finds me when I’m not altered. I would see my father and his eyes would be wet knowing that I always come back to him. I’d find my mom, who, even at our worsts, folds me into her heart and keeps me safe. My two best friends would be there, arms open, knowing I’ll never love a man like I do them. I’d spot my sisters and their husbands and run full speed. They’d all be together laughing in the corner, wondering what took me so long.
The men that I loved would be lost in the crowd of my friends, my family, my cousins, my coworkers, my roommates. They would be outnumbered by the love I’ve felt even when I’m not drunk. The love of people who never faltered. Who never left. Who never gave me reason to second guess. If I were happy drunk, I would find these people. They would be waiting for me, knowing that I’d always figure it out eventually—that the ones I’ve loved before can’t hold a candle to the ones who love me now.
And I’d drink the whole night with them, not even remembering the others in the room.