5. “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” by Al Green
You play it for the 47th time since last Tuesday; Al Green’s voice blares in your ear while his words resonate in your heart. You’re driving home after seeing The Ex-boyfriend. I-95 at night does little to hold your interest and you’re alone with your thoughts. For the 47th time since last Tuesday, you think about what you could have said or done to change the course of the history between you and he. Not you and The Ex. That history is one you’ve resigned yourself to. You’re thinking of “the one that got in the way.” The catalyst for change. The Hurricane. For the 47th time since last Tuesday, you think about the fine lines in his lips that you’re never going to trace again. You think about all of the things that you haven’t said, the things that you’ll probably never get an opportunity to say. You think of, for a moment, this silly alternate reality in which you and he can be happy, consisting of walks in the park and matinee horror flicks. You sigh. You change the song.
4. “Gooey” by Glass Animals
The scenery on I-95 breaks; you see the city rise up on the horizon. Bright lights, tall buildings. Your new home for the last month. There’s always a brief moment of awe for you when you catch the first glimpse of the city from the highway. You still can’t believe that this is your new life; a life that includes an independent movie theater in walking distance, half-priced sushi on Monday nights, and various happy hours mere minutes away. You feel age appropriate for the first time in a long time.
“Gooey” plays as you navigate through the still-busy streets. You laugh to yourself, recalling the last time you heard the song. You were in his apartment. Not The Ex. Not The Hurricane. The Distraction. He had a small one-bedroom apartment in a historic district. He liked fucking to music; you initially thought it served to set the mood, but you then discovered it was to drown out your noises. You smile contently remembering this. You remember how simple and clear the arrangement was. Neither of you were looking for serious commitment. You both wanted something casual, something that allowed for sex and good conversations before and after. It was uncomplicated and perfect.
When The Distraction ended the arrangement on Sunday, you were blindsided. “I’ve been seeing someone and we just decided to do the boyfriend/girlfriend thing,” he said to you. “We can still be friends. She said I can hang out with you as a friend,” he continued. Friends. You mustered enough enthusiasm to say that friendship is great, wishing him well in his new relationship before you ended the conversation.
3. “Disorder” by Joy Division
You arrive home, unpacking the handful of groceries you brought with you. The apartment is empty and a little too quiet for comfort as your roommates are out and about. You play some music as you make dinner, a less-than-exciting combination of tuna salad and sliced avocado. You hear Ian Curtis’ voice pour through the speakers and you think about Saturday night. You invited him to a party at your apartment. Not The Ex, not The Hurricane, nor The Distraction. You invited The Polyamorous Neurotic. He actually showed up, though later he admitted it wasn’t for the purpose of seeing you. He needed to get away from his partner and he saw you as an opportunity to do so. An alternative to just driving around. The Polyamorous Neurotic stayed around long enough to chat about things that you didn’t particularly care about before announcing his exit.
You walked him to his car, parked across the street from the building. He leaned against his driver-side door as he admitted to you he only has a capacity for friendship at this time. He continued to talk about how messy his life is; you had trouble focusing on his words. Instead, you wondered if your brief tryst with him could be considered a one-night stand if you became pseudo-friends after the fact. You gave him an overly-enthusiastic hug, told him to drive safe, and after he left, went to a local bar with your brother, as the party was suddenly overwhelming to you. You downed a questionable drink, ate some fried foods, and celebrated your brother turning 29 at the stroke of midnight. “Disorder” was playing as you left the bar. You and your brother acted like assholes on the street, singing “FEELING, FEELING, FEELING” at the top of your lungs in your best Ian Curtis imitation and goofing off on the walk back to the apartment.
2. “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo
You finish prepping your dinner and you make yourself a tall, vodka drink and retreat to your room with your drink and food. The drink seems a little more appealing than the meal and you down it in a few gulps. In minutes, things seem fuzzy. You feel warm. You pick at your dinner. You look at your cellphone and wonder what to do next.
You could text The Ex. You could tell him you miss him. You decide against it because you don’t want to confuse him.
You could text The Hurricane. You could tell him you want him. You decide against it because you don’t want to put yourself in a position to be hurt.
You fix another drink.
You could text The Distraction. You could tell him that he’s a jerk for not telling you he was seeing someone. You decide against it because it’s an unnecessarily messy thing to do.
You don’t even bother entertaining the idea of texting The Polyamorous Neurotic.
You down the remainder of the second drink, chewing on the ice, staring blankly at the wall.
You hear “Habits” begin to play and you listen intently for a few months. “Maybe this is why The Hurricane drinks,” you say to yourself, “To keep from missing someone.” You think about that for a few moments, staring at the wall again, focused on a little blip of paint that resembles Italy. Memories become fuzzy. Motor skills diminish. You enjoy a third drink.
1. “Under The Milky Way” by The Church
It’s two in the morning and sleep continues to elude you. You think about sending a nude photo of yourself to a guy you’ve started getting to know. Thankfully, you put your phone down and walk around the apartment. It’s dark. You bang about in the dark. You pause in front of the full-length mirror, and the hall light illuminates you just enough to see your reflection. You pull up your nightdress and examine your nakedness. You’re drunk and you see yourself as two sizes bigger than you are. You pull your dress down, shudder, and shuffle back to your room.
The Ex. The Hurricane. The Distraction. The Polyamorous Neurotic. You lie in bed, staring at your ceiling, thinking about those men. You think about each rejection and you fight your inner voices telling you that you weren’t good enough to want to pursue or commit to. Your brain is unable to declare a winner in the struggle. Thankfully, you’re intoxicated enough to fall asleep mid-thought, and though you’ll wake up with a hangover, the pain of the hangover beats falling asleep feeling as if you “weren’t worth enough” to stick around for.