Everything Was Beautiful And All Of It Hurt
I. Devil in a Black Dress
“One day, I am going to break your fucking heart,” she confessed on my balcony in between drags of her Marlboro 27. “You sure you want to do this?”
There are only two ways for a relationship to end: Separation and death. Both options are pretty devastating, the degree of sadness at the end largely dependent on two variables — vulnerability and time elapsed. I pondered this as I locked eyes with her and smirked.
“As sure as I’ve ever been about anything in all my life.”
She scowled, tilted her head up to the heavens and howled “UGHHHHH” in a throaty roar, the kind you’d receive after making a particularly egregious food pun. “Of course you would say that.”
We’d met some months prior, as I’d drunkenly meander outside of this bar we both drank at eight nights a week, me after playing music and her after tending bar, and I’d probe her for cigarettes while she shot me side-eye in her black-on-black work getup. I maybe got 12 words in at any given moment before her scattershot attention would wander to the next shiny thing her coworker was yelling.
We’d first become friends when I, too drunk to drive, too shamed for a cab, and too weak to say no, was invited by an odd friend to visit this woman’s house by the old river, and we decided to take a swim long past dark and long after the municipal park’s closing hours.
“You just gotta get in there,” she instructed her friend. “The water is perfect. Don’t be a bitch about it.”
Four in the morning and freezing, we careened through the rapids, beers in our hand, on a hazy summer evening that felt three weeks long. Her wide eyes, drunk on adrenaline and high on adventure, the only stars in the sky.
Some time later, I’d be playing some music at a local dive bar for my 33rd birthday, and I — as is customary for my slightly narcissistic tendencies — invited everyone that I knew, so I pleaded with her she’d have the night of her life if she came to the concert. I may have been overselling it. I often oversell it.