We're walking down the canal on day 3 talking about relationships when I say, "Well, if you're a woman like me, you only seem to attract sociopaths..." He's jarred by my admission and clucks his tongue and grabs my hand.
In the boyfriend way with intertwined fingers.
Weeks later on the phone, he corrects me and says, "They're vampires." I'm astounded that he understands this. Autumn just keeps going and going, kaleidoscopic leaves whip across the empty parkscape, the canal emptied of its water puts a faint rotten fish smell in the air.
"Smells like the sea," he says. Is he the man I'm going to love for real? He doesn't look like that man but then none of them ever really do.
I am not a moderate drinker. My first time getting drunk was with my girlfriend and her dad. I was 14. He got us wasted playing caps on Labatt XXX beer, throwing bottle caps at our crotches. "Clit shot!" he'd cheer. I was totally entranced by the whole experience. Drinking felt like getting eaten by a snake, like a weird, slimy skin grew between you and the world. Sloshing around in this skin, you can say outrageous things but hardly feel their impact, you can feel bottle caps against your crotch like they're rapping against an echo chamber of your body, you can look at the outside world from inside somewhere else completely. I only ever wanted to drink to oblivion -- what the hell was the point otherwise? I wanted to feel around the reaches of my soggy snake skin invincible.
I am a romantic drinker. At 23 in the south of France, days laid out before me like ripples of decorative orange groves, lavender and sea salt licking at my fat cheeks, I guzzle bottles of wine in the garden and wax obsessive about a man who doesn't love me. I never require more than this to fall into daze and daze of obsessive thought. This is what makes me special, a writer. This is the artist in me. The total despair. How lost I am, how deathly, deathly alone. Journals my only companions, notebooks full of thoughts of a man unavailable to me are the only places available to me. I am alone and I drink.
I am really the best drinker. I am someone you'd always want to party with cause I'd never, ever say no. I am invincible. In the peak of my glorious weekend fuckfests, I'd light those derelict dance rooms on fire, smoking real cigarettes in the afterhours, smoking my high heels, smoking and stirring the whole scene into a frenzy. Something about the way I moved felt like fucking. A few snorts of coke when it got too late, maybe a pill if it was one of those nights, but mostly just booze glorious booze. My favourite part would be walking home alone at 5 or 6, that echo of clicking heels against empty Mile End warehouses. Sometimes I'd find a man in the street and take him home, sometimes I'd just have sex with him right there. Finally laying my head down on the pillow, feeling fearless, I'd sleep for days knowing I'd forget.
"It's weird, I don't see you as a big drinker. You seem so grounded to me," he says back at the house.
I laugh, "I think I have the best disguise for unwholesome behaviour, something about my innocent-looking face and big eyes. People always assume I'm 'good'. There's some class and race bullshit happening there, too."
"I thought you were kidding when we cheered your 90 days of sobriety."
"We have a lot to catch up on, I guess."
"You can't use it against me later."
I am a functional drinker, right? Near the end, I lost multiple wallets and bags. Jewelry. I lost money. So. Much. Money. By the grace of God, I held down jobs but I don't know how. But then I started to lose something I couldn't retrieve. Was it dignity? I could feel something leaving my body in chunks. The snake skin didn't feel that protective anymore. It felt saturated and heavy. I was killing myself.