poison of choice

To Violet

I fell in love with wine the same year I realized I was in love with self-pity. I found myself emotionally drained from relationships that weren’t relationships. I found myself spread out on the sofa many nights, face down, my tears sticking my face to the leather chairs. My two college roommates would shake me, poke me, and eventually give up and go to bed. And I would awaken slowly in the morning. Before wiping my eyes I would put a cigarette in my mouth and take deep breaths. There was always music on, the music I had on repeat before passing out. Sometimes I would find cards tucked underneath me or whatever it was I busied myself with in my intoxication. I always made it to class however. This became routine, my secret ritual that I wasn’t sure I enjoyed as much as I did the first few times.

The first few times of experiencing the effects of over drinking had always consisted of lovers, cold winter nights, and war stories from delicate lips of men I genuinely wanted to know and understand. There was Jimmy and there was David. They were exact opposites but they complimented each other and I used it for my benefit. Jimmy was the free spirited artist that always kissed me at just the right moments. He would run his hands through my hair while I talked, he would comment on my eyes, he would light my cigarette, and show up at sunset with good news and drinks to have cheers. David was a little more uptight, he did everything according to the rules. I’m not sure why I was interested in him but he was beautifully put together. He was well on his way to having a few degrees, he loved Social Science and Math. He was always talking about his family and I admired his traditional ways. I admired the paths he took because it seemed he could never do no wrong. I was unsure of what he saw in me as well. Maybe he longed for the taste of rebellion and he got it through me.

My roommates were busy girls. Hell, we all were. In their spare time, they went to movies, went out on dates, sat in the computer labs writing essays for class. In my spare time, I’d find a good drink and a good sad song to listen to. I would play anything from Lynard Skynard to Erykah Badu depending on my mood. I would also decide on who I wanted to share laughter with…Jimmy or David. Usually, one would call and the other would not so it worked out majority of the time. I wasn’t formally dating either one so the situation was fine and I was quite guilt-free. It was a choice of coffee or cappuccino.

Usually my Mother would call me on Sunday mornings and we would speak briefly. She would tell me everything that was going on back home and ask if I needed anything.
“No Mom I’m okay.”
“You sound tired. Are you getting enough sleep?”
“Yeah sure.”
“Are you going to church yet?”
“No, not yet.”
“Okay well let me tell you about what happened last week….” That was usually how our conversations went every Sunday. I looked forward to it. That was one thing that stayed the same since I moved to this town to attend the University. Everything else was constantly changing: my jobs, my courses, my moods, my lovers, my goals, and the list never ends.
“Do you have a boyfriend yet?”
“No, I’ve just kind of been dating.”
“Anyone special?
“Their all special Mom.” This would always be reciprocated with laughter. But I meant every word. My Mother had no idea that I was a drinker. I never once saw her drink anything besides taste a glass of wine once at Christmas. And after that sip she giggled and refused to drive.

My roommates would occasionally sit down and enjoy a drink as well. Sometimes they would get just as wasted as I did and we sit and laugh. Sometimes we dance around, sometimes we talk about men and their bodies, we talk about good books, concerts, classes, and religion. I enjoyed those moments too. We’d all enjoy a cigarette as well, even though they aren’t regular smokers. I may write a poem or too before I get completely trashed. Like tonight. And as my roommates stumble to their bedrooms in order to make it to class or work the next day I laid there and continued to drink. I watched the room spin and pretended I was spinning too. I lit a cigarette to relax. Then I checked my phone to see if Jimmy or David was available. Of course Jimmy is home and he tells me he is on his way. David doesn’t answer. I’m almost certain David is seeing someone but I never ask because I don’t want to ruin this cozy situation of ours.
Jimmy shows up wrapped in scarves and he shivers from the cold. I smile at his shy grin. He comes in and immediately pours a drink to enjoy the same feeling as I. He knocks back a few shots.
“I love you,” I say. He takes another shot and looks at me focusing his eyes.
“In your own drunken way, huh?” He smiles. His smile is oddly delightful. I can say crazy unwanted words to Jimmy because he always says the right thing back. David, on the other hand would have questioned me. He would have put on his coat and told me to call him in the morning when I’m sober. He would not have appreciated such a drunken dramatic moment.
“Have you seen the news?” Jimmy offers.
“I’m not interested,” I say hoping my words aren’t slurring. We sit in silence. He finally gets up from the chair adjacent from mine and sits next to me. He aggressively kisses my ear. This is why I like Jimmy. He knows how to be a lover.

Months later Jimmy transferred to another school because it had a better art program and all I had was David. Jimmy informed me of his big decision on one of our nights at the bar. He told me in the middle of irrelevant conversation. I took it just fine. I thought to myself we could still see each other on weekends. But then I thought about it longer. Of course we wouldn’t. We would go our separate ways and within weeks the “out of sight out of mind” would ring correct and we would be in the arms of someone new. Jimmy would every now and then think of me but I would become a faded memory like old memories from childhood. I would fade into time and the feelings would too. This made me kiss him softer when he dropped me off home and I wept into my pillow for hours with country music playing in the background. And I hate country music.

To add insult to misery, David invited me to lunch on a bright Wednesday afternoon and informed that he could not see me anymore. He grabbed my hand and lowered his eyes. I put a finger to his lips to avoid explanation. His dimples popped and my spine got stiff.
“Can I say something?” He asked. I was no more interested in either hearing him make up a story, make up feelings, or conceal the fact that someone else owned his heart and was very unwilling to put it up for sale.
“Of course not,” I answered smiling, then got up from my chair. I kissed him on the cheek and his eyes were still closed when I finished. “This is a very tragic romantic moment. Don’t ruin it.” I left. When I got home I poured a glass of wine and flipped on the television. Oh, David why? I enjoyed you so much. I imagined his athletic body and my hands around his strong arms the many times he walked me to my car. I frowned. I imagined him kissing and admiring his other lover and twirling one of her curls with his long index finger. I imagined him tossing and turning at night afraid of being without her. I sighed. The sun beat inside of the living room window anxiously. I laughed a little but stopped immediately because it hurt. I downed the entire glass of wine and filled my cup with another. Surely, both of these situations were too much to bare all at once.
One of my roommates made her way through the door, looked around, and smirked at the stupid expression on my face. I slowly told her what had transpired over the past few days hoping I was using the right words to express how helpless and alone I felt. It was something like a hunger pang only in the chest.
“Well…” She paused. “How long did you expect this masquerade to go on? I mean you were seeing the both of them. Lucky for you it didn’t turn out into some big soap opera.”
“Yeah…” I said twirling my cup to make the wine go from side to side. I knew that it would have never ended up that way. They didn’t care enough. My roommate went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine as well then sat on the love seat adjacent to where I sat.
“How much have you had to drink?” She asked.
“Just a glass,” I lied.
“You seem so sad. It’s okay…maybe they just weren’t for you. Things happen for a reason. Men come and go like seasons.”

So as the Winter slowly begin to grow warm I was unable to make the transition with it. I continued to drink alone but now more so. Now that I had associated drinking with love, conversation, fun, youth, and storytelling, I felt lost when all I had was the drink. Then the drink begin to go down painfully though it still tasted sweet. As the room continued to spin it was no longer a pleasant ride. I felt abandoned. The sweet poison that I had depended on so long no longer delivered all the sweet gifts it had before. What happened to David, the one who had husband written all over his lovely body? And Jimmy my prince charming who warmed my bones? They were gone with the winds…not thinking a second thought about me. The truth is the wine loves me much more than anyone or any winter season could. The difference is the seasons are sure to come.