You okay Linds? He asks. You look good. I just mean y’know, in life. You seem a little unsure, I guess, he pauses. Unsteady.
We’re sitting in my parents church parking lot: my head rested against the back of his passenger seat. The turtleneck of my black dress scratches at my neck, and I stretch it out with my fingers.
I smirk. Shouldn’t I be asking you that?
He shrugs. Fair. But, I’m okay, y’know. Second longest time I’ve been sober.
Happy for you.
You don’t sound all that happy for me.
I smile, and look over to him. Hey, I pause. Of course I’m very happy for you.
One day at a time, he says, like it’s rehearsed. Trying not to get ahead of myself.
All you can do, I s’pose. I frown after I say this, bored with my own lackluster advice, and look towards the window.
I know I’m being melancholy, I say. Just in a weird point in my life AC.
He nods. For what it’s worth: a year ago, I was crushing my job, making over 100k and owned a house.
You were also on fucking heroin.
We are quiet for a few seconds, watching churchgoers pass by the front of his green Hyundai.
Do you go to church in Colorado? He asks.
I shake my head, almost vehemently. I do this for my parents.
He nods. I go sometimes, now. I find it peaceful.
Sure, I muse. If Christians didn’t make such a predictable hypocrisy out of the whole thing – I might be more into it, I pause. But, for now, it’s not my thing.
Aren’t you a barrel of laughs? He jokes. Do your parents know that?
I don’t know, I say. Maybe. I make a point to keep my dark opinions to myself.
He smiles. I can see that. Alas, here we are.
Thanks for coming, I say. It means a lot to them. Makes them feel like they’re helping you.
I’m glad they invited me. And I’m glad you chose to come too.
He leans over from the drivers seat and turns down the radio.
Hey I like that song, I say. Mariah Carey rocks it.
Is this that ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ one?
That’d be it.
He smiles. You always liked Christmas growing up. I used to wig out for weeks trying to get you the perfect gifts. Remember that one year I rented a horse drawn carriage?
I smile. You did, I say. And it was never the gifts I gave a shit about – just the thought behind them, I pause. And yes, of course I remember the horse drawn carriage Christmas.
It’s more pressure than you think, he says. ‘The thought behind them’ that is.
I agree. True. Max wants to kill me because the only gift idea I gave him was ‘an experience’.
He laughs. That’s the fucking worst. Poor bastard.
We both grin to each other.
So, he says again. You okay Linds? Not that I don’t love your dark self, but y’know – feels a little darker than the usual dose.
I nod, and take a few moments to gather my thoughts:
I’m going through a confusing time, I admit. I’m not sure what the fuck I’m doing in this life. This past year: man, some years rock your core, right? And I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore – in my career, in my relationships, in my life, I pause. Everything just feels like fog, y’know? And I can’t see through it.
I turn towards him. I’ve never really got why we’re here, on this earth, and that plagues me lately. Just look at all we build in our lives and how much of it disappears through your fingers, like quicksand. I mean, look at us even. There were so many years I thought we’d end up together, once you cleaned your shit up, and now we’re here.
Now we’re here, he says.
And we’re not together.
He smiles sadly. I thought we’d end up together, too.
I nod – and squeeze his right hand with my left. Well, that’s fuckin’ life isn’t it?
Go on, he says. You can keep talking.
I dunno, I continue, turning to face forward again. I put all this faith into the future without ever really considering what future I even really wanted.
And now I guess I feel like I’m hitting some weird 30 crisis. I’m not young enough to keep fucking around. Not old enough to be wise. Just sitting in the middle of who I was, and where I want to be, which is a big question mark.
He nods along, so I continue:
I don’t know why I’m spilling this all to you, I say. It’s first world shit. Privileged shit even, I pause. But I just don’t know what I want out of this life. It’s like everything I thought I was building over the past 5 years – the recovery stuff, my blog, my writing, my speaking – all of it has stalled and I don’t have any idea where to go with it.
I don’t like where my career is. One day, I want to get married and the next – never. I want kids and in the same sentence I want autonomy forever.
I pause. You weren’t around when I got engaged.
And even though I shouldn’t have said yes: in my core, I knew I shouldn’t say yes: I did, I pause. And now I have like PTSD from it – and I don’t know that I ever wanna say yes to anything that final ever again because losing G – losing that relationship – was like losing a huge chunk of ground, and now I’m sitting here just doggy paddling and drowning in the unknown.
I sit back again, purposely avoiding his glance.
God, it’s all just confusing isn’t it? Life? It’s like when I was younger, I had all the answers, I smile. But all of my answers, now that I’m older, have just turned into questions again. And I am riddled with doubt.
Does anything mean anything? I ask. I just don’t know and –
Linds, he interrupts my stream of conscious. And I stop, embarrassed.
Linds, he says again – softer. Hey, he smiles – and he puts his hand across the seat to mine. Come back, he whispers. You’re diving into your head.
Tears well behind my eyes. God damnit, I mutter.
He smiles. You’re okay.
But I am crying.
Say it with me, he says. You’re okay.
He smiles when I roll my eyes. Life is peculiar, he says. It’s so fucking peculiar isn’t it?
Maybe we don’t need to know where we’re headed, or we wouldn’t keep fighting it. Maybe we have no bloody idea how beautiful it’ll all be in just a couple turns.
He smiles. I’ll always love you, Linds. No matter what happens. And no matter what matters.
Maybe nothing matters, he continues. History would be keen to agree with that statement.
And maybe we all just return to dust in the end. There’s a good chance that may be the case – he pauses.
And if it is – then it is. And I’m still glad I get the chance to be alive, right now, and sit in this car with you.
I wipe a tear dribbling down my cheek.
Everything you feel right now is just relative, he says. And it’ll all change again, you’ll see.
He starts the car.
We’re just taking the long way home, Linds. That’s all it ever is.