My heart was racing.
I had no clue if he had noticed me looking at him. But with every drink that I consumed, the closer I moved my way towards him. It was a gradual process, glancing at him at every opportunity that I could find. And after the third or fourth glass, I was finally sitting right next to him
This was it.
I closed my eyes. And took a deep breath.
By now, all the alcohol in my system had made my body warm and I wasn’t sure if it was the liquid courage or the motivational talk that I gave myself in the bathroom, but I was somehow able to gain enough confidence to start a conversation with him.
Slowly, I turned to him.
“How’s it going?” I said trying to sound as casual as possible.
“It’s going well,” he said nonchalantly.
“Are you here for happy hour?” I said before quickly regretting my statement because it somehow made me sound like I was some kind of alcoholic who visited and drank there regularly.
He let out a small laugh.
“Nah, I was just hungry and decided to give this place a try. It has good reviews, so why not, right?”
I couldn’t help, but stare at his eyes. They were nice and brown and complimented his dirty blonde hair.
“Yeah, true…but since you’re here, you should try the bacon cheeseburger. It’s really good…I mean, if you’re not lactose or anything…but even if you are, you’re not going to regret it…Well, unless you end up needing to go the hospital or something…and in that case, I really hope you have insurance…”
I could sense an incoherent ramble starting. Immediately, I stopped myself from saying another word.
“That’s a lot of information to take in,” he said almost jokingly.
“I’m sorry.” I said in embarrassment.
I stepped back and started to turn my head away from his view.
He grabbed my wrist gently which made me stop. And then, I turned around to look at him.
“What are you sorry for?” he asked.
“I don’t know…I guess for talking too much?” I answered sounding a bit unsure.
He let out another laugh.
“You’re fine. You just sound a bit nervous. Here, let me buy you a drink. Will that be okay?” he asked.
I stood there looking shocked. Nobody had ever bought me a drink. At least not while they were sober.
I continued to look at him. Trying to figure out how someone as handsome as him was talking to me.
“…Yes,” I answered with a smile.
A few moments went by.
It could have been a few seconds or minutes or hours. Who really knows?
We talked and laughed. And together, we got lost in conversation.
But then slowly, and surely, I opened my eyes.
The room was dimly lit with dance music from the early 90’s playing from the jukebox in the back.
A bartender stood in front of me.
“Are you waiting for someone or you alone today?” he curiously asked.
I looked around. The room was empty and the only people that were around were those that I could see through the window walking past the bar to whatever destination they needed to go.
I looked at the bartender.
“Just alone today…” I said giving him a fake smile.
“Alright, do you want the usual or something new?” he asked.
“The usual,” I answered.
“Got it,” he said as he walked back to get a cold glass cup.
It had happened again.
I had gotten lost in a memory that felt so real. A memory of someone randomly coming into my world to help me escape this miserable life that I had created for myself.
And even if the memory changed the location of where we met, our interaction stayed the same. I was the one that needed to be saved while he was the one who was willing to help save me.
But I was too blind to know that he was there to help change my life for the better that I ended up running away. only to realize that I needed him.
So, I went searching. Confident that he was out there waiting for me to sweep me away in some sort of romantic gesture. And then my life would suddenly be fine.
I went to bars, parks, beaches, movie theaters, and any place where I thought he would attend, but no matter where I went, I couldn’t find him.
Other men came along. Wanting to get to know me. Asking me out on dates. And I reluctantly said yes.
All along knowing that he was out there waiting for me. Rationalizing that perhaps being with other men would help me appreciate him more once we finally interacted with each other again.
A year went by. And then two. And then a few more.
Relationships came and went. Yet none of them made me feel happy.
I evaluated and compared every single person to him. And they failed.
Soon, the endless fighting and bickering with partners were calculated attempts to make them want to break up with me. And to nobody’s surprise, these breakups were a complete success.
But in my mind, he was still out there. Still waiting for me.
And I was still foolish enough to have hope.
“Here you go…that will be six dollars,” the bartender said as he handed me my drink, “do you want your tap opened or closed?”
I turned to look around the empty room one final time before turning back to him.
“Opened,” I responded.