Have you ever ended a relationship with the feeling that you had just been released from prison?
Just me then...
Approximately seven months ago, I took my first steps beyond the barbed-wire walls I had built around my life and announced my re-entry into single society in true Lou fashion—with an alcohol-soaked evening at Stanley’s Bar complete with a declaration of independence best illustrated by an off-key rendition of Whitesnake’s Here I go Again and a boy named Karl.
Ah yes, Karl. We made out in the rain. In a sober, we-actually-know-each-other alternative universe, it would have been romantic in cliche, black-and-white movie kind of way. But for me on that night, it was the coming out party for returning to the life I love/hate, excessive drinking and locking lips with strangers.
And no, apparently I have no shame.
But last night, when asked by a friend to partake in a few beverages celebrating another week of surviving the 9-to-5 life sentence, I hesitated. I had big plans to lie on the couch and watch my Tivo-ed Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns and fantasize about Spike.
You can imagine the conundrum I faced.
I went. Of course I did. And I reconciled it: I’ll only be out a few hours, have a couple of drinks, be home by 10 or 11. Spike and Buffy and their illicit, violent love affair can wait a few hours.
Not surprising, my road map was disregarded and the evening veered wildly off course.
After six beers, two pool games, and a mozzarella stick at a bar, the name of which I cannot remember, we opted for a change of scenery and headed down the street to Maeve, which I had been told was where the old Stanley’s crowd was migrating.
Upon being granted entrance to Maeve, a curly-haired boy wearing a dark blazer and an aw shucks grin, noticeably stared in our direction.
As we made our way through the bar to order completely unneeded libations, the curly-haired boy with the aw shucks grin approached me.
“I like your coat,” he said referring to my red Lacoste trench. Seriously, that’s what he said to me.
I looked up at him and finally, through a Miller Lite haze, recognition sparked.
Ignoring the compliment I, somewhat demandingly, asked his name. He appeared to be a bit taken aback.
The memory rushed over me.
Um. How do I put this?
“We know each other. Well, not really. Sort of. Um… we made out once… at Stanley’s… in the rain… it might have been romantic in a cliche black-and-white movie kind of way, had we not been wasted and actually known each other.”
“Your hair is different. It was curly, and darker, and longer then,” he said remembering, like I was, an astounding amount of detail for a night that resulted in a killer hangover and the swearing off of all alcohol, for like, a day.
The moral of the story is that it is apparently time to move. Chicago is too small a town for me, my binge drinking, and my DWIs (Decisions While Intoxicated).
But I realized today while laying on the couch unable to motivate for the gym due to the leftover effects of a night that spun wildly out of control, there may be more than just old-fashioned humiliation to this encounter.
Earlier in the evening, pre-beers six through nine, I had declared to my friend my re-commitment to my independence. Lately I have been thinking a lot about that feeling of freedom, my release so many months ago, rather than the anger and resentment I focused on through the winter. I was ready, perhaps this time for real, to move beyond the men I had been involved with previously and, moreover, to begin to understand—and change—my defensiveness towards and suspicion of the male gender.
So maybe Karl with his curly hair and aw shucks grin, was a sign… a symbol. What are the odds that the same boy would appear on the two nights that I announced emancipation from the ghosts of relationships past. Now before you think I’ve caught the crazy train to Chicklogicville… here’s where I’m not going with this: I do not believe that Karl and I are destined to be together. At all. Period. Not even a little.
But maybe Karl is an embodiment of not only my freedom, but also the mistakes I make because of it. In two interactions with him, I used Karl as a opportunity to anonymously (read: safely) connect with someone sans repercussions and dismissed him and his intentions—if he had any, whatever they may have been—on account of his Y chromosome. It’s Karl, not Chicago, from where I need to move. One final note on Karl: He is the antithesis of the Lost Boys I typically seek out for momentary amusement, if not full-blown and inevitably doomed relationships. Karl is cute, reasonably well-dressed, an engineer, owns a condo, travels overseas frequently, and seemed to find me to be rather humorous when I wasn’t telling him that a conversation between he and I really wasn't necessary.
Don’t act surprised. I have issues. We learned that many posts, if not years, ago.