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I was drunk in the casino on the eve of Christmas Eve demanding that this guy love me via text message. Calling the place a casino is being a bit generous. It’s only got slot machines and one expansive and vacant food court.
When I was a kid, the place also had Jai alai and a catchy jingle on the radio, but not anymore. There was a vote a few weeks back about adding table games, but it didn’t pass. That’s why on the eve of Christmas Eve I was wandering around this sad, grand, empty building that smelled like smoke, drinking skunky beer and trying to convince someone who doesn’t want me that they should want me. I was reminded of "The Shining," only I was both Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson. My cellphone was Danny Torrance.
I guess it would be more apt to call me the old rotting woman in the tub, walking eagerly towards Jack, desperate for an embrace. Yeah, that’s about right.
Jesus Christ, is there anything more pathetic? Yes, in answer to my very own question, there is. I also sang "I Can’t Make You Love Me" at the karaoke happening at the main bar for a guy who looked like a cross between Phil Spector and Elvis, while my two younger brothers cringed with shame, since I’d long passed the mental capacity for having any myself.
I woke up the next morning at 6:30, the drunk’s dawn. Outside on the deck there was a crow staring inside. Probably just staring at its own reflection, really. My mouth tasted like roadkill.
I remembered, in a haze, the conversation from the night before. Conversation is a generous word for a prolonged and tortuous series of text messages between two drunk people who have reached the point of bringing out the worst in each other. I groaned and reached for my phone. Luckily, drunk Becca was smart enough to know that sober Becca would be exactly this mortified. She’d deleted the texts from the night before. She couldn’t, however, delete the highlight reel playing in my head. “Is she a better kisser than me?” “Do you want me to stop fighting for you?” “I just think you’re making a big mistake.” “You need to give me a shot.” My bowels twinge, the beer and the embarrassment. I thought I was proving just how certain I was that there was something left. He said I was being a bully.
On my back on the twin fold-out couch, the metal bars digging into my kidneys and my brain, I let everything swirl around my head. I pretend that I’m a snowglobe and I give myself a vigorous shake, examining all the tiny flakes (festive) as they pass until everything falls to the bottom and the image inside is no longer hidden behind a water wall of visual static. He’s got a lot of shit going on and it isn’t about you. For once in your life, stop thinking that someone else’s shit is about you, Stokes. You’re ready for something serious and he doesn’t even know if he believes in something serious. You need to trust that he knows you aren’t a bad person. You need to get that it doesn’t matter if he does. You need to understand that it’s over. Because it is over. And, like he keeps saying, you’ll be fine. Most importantly of all: You don’t want him.
Then I got out of bed and was absolutely fine. I showered and I got dressed in a great, tailored-to-fit outfit and my life was a song and now I can orgasm by winking and no longer need foundation. Ha, no. Then I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. When I finally got up at around nine I was more mortified than before, and slightly more hungover. The two, I am led to believe, are linked.
For all that rush of “ohmygodBECCA,” the truth I’d found before falling back asleep held up. I looked down at my phone in that hapless something-to-do way every person with a phone does, and found another conversation from the previous night. “He just thinks I’m such a bad person, he really does,” the lump in my throat, like a horse pill stuck halfway down, instantly appears. A dear and patient friend responds instantly, “Rebecca. You do enough of that to yourself. You don’t need someone else convincing you that you are bad.”
I don’t think it’s that I can’t let go of him. It’s that I can’t let go of hating everything about myself, not so easily, not all in one go. When he and I met, I thought I was at the precipice of learning to love myself -- God, what a fucking awful, daytime TV kind of phrase. I’m going to try it again.
When he and I met, I thought I was close to not looking for the easiest way to die. It turns out, knowing you’re wrong is very different from actually believing you are. So, somebody liked me and I liked them and then they didn’t like me anymore and that was the worst thing that could happen because it meant that everything I think about myself (unlovable, crazy, stupid, mean) is true. Ain’t that a kick in the teeth, to shamefully bastardize a song. I thought I’d really progressed, when in fact, the voices in my head were only silent because I’d recruited an outside party to take their place.
I can’t get drunk and text myself begging me to love me. But I can get drunk and text a boy who is basically incidental and do just that. We’re neither of us saints, he and I. The thing I’m guilty of, I’ll lay claim to -- I let him be the villain. Because it’s easier for me to feel like I’m a pile of shit and retreat than it is to realize that maybe I’m not. But, maybe I’m not. I feel like maybe I’m not? How warped is it that I am getting tingly and elated realizing that I’m maybe not Satan? Pretty warped.
If I walk around quietly not hating myself, there’s a chance I will attract people into my orbit who also don’t hate me. God, it’s a like a million Pinterest quotes made manifest and I don’t think I care. I pin it. I ‘ship it. I bookmark it: I Might Not Be Awful And I Believe That.