I meet her in rehab, sentenced to another month of platitudes for indulging once again. She’s wearing a Law School sweatshirt, feet up on a chair. I can tell the hoodie is hers and that she doesn’t want to be there. We start talking about credit scores, going to George Mason, and never stop. Well read, well-bred, and usually anesthetized, we are the same.
“Because if you don’t want to talk about it then it isn’t love, and I guess I’m going to have to live with that. But I’m sure there’s something in a shade of gray, or something in between”
We start communicating with a red notebook. Fitting, since we are both obsessed with words. We fly under the radar until the notorious fork sharing incident, preserved for posterity in the staff log.
“And I can always change my name, if that’s what you mean”
Everyone knows me for my exploits with Shaun, so I don’t expect her to be interested. We both need a new identity. The old ones have grown tiresome and keep getting us pressured into rehabs. We are there to get help because we can’t find a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.
“You try to tell yourself, the things you try to tell yourself, to make yourself forget”
We are both consumed with guilt over the past, things we can’t tell anyone but each other. We laugh about the uncapped syringe in her purse that stabbed one of the counselors when she was admitted. She always asks to share my cigarette even though she doesn’t smoke. I like the way her lipstick tastes on the filter of my camels. I like that we never have to fill the silence with mindless chatter.
“If it’s love, she said, then we’re going to have to think about the consequences”
She goes back to D.C. for a few days and then moves into my apartment, giving me some bullshit excuse about wanting to drink. We both know the truth. She’s the only person I’ve ever met who shares my thoughts, my regrets, and my dreams.
It seems like I should say, as long as this is love, but it’s not all that easy”
We’ve never wanted a conventional life, but we try to force one. We buy artwork, and she makes me dinner. She learns the best way to wake me up by shaking a pill bottle in my ear, a siren song.
“These seconds when I’m shaking leave me shuddering for days, she says, And I’m not ready for this sort of thing”
We cling on to each other like we are drowning, and eventually we both sink. I go back to heroin and she goes back to D.C.
“This time when kindness falls like rain, it washes me away and she begins to change my mind”
She gets me through 2017, a year of boredom, loss, and disinterest. She sends me letters with no expectations, other than a smile. She promises me June but circumstance align, and we are together again. I can still taste her lipstick on the filters of my cigarettes.
When I get in her car we put on ‘Anna Begins’ by the Counting Crows, the song we used to listen to on repeat, together again. We both agree that it’s the only song that accurately depicts how we feel.
What it feels like when you’ve finally found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.