by Melina Smith
“Well, don’t hog it,” I say as I grab the flask from the boy lying in the tub.
The bathroom is a blinding white as if the mother of whoever lives here spends her free time bleaching it over and over again: perfectly spotless, as if those who live here rarely occupy it. The only color to it is the Jamaican sea blue rug placed directly in front of the bathtub, though it seems to have collected some misprojected vomit today. This bathroom is smaller than the ones I’m used to, considering I spend most of my time at parties in them.
The boy in the tub is the same way; I’ve never really learned his name–mainly because I don’t care to–but he has come to be a sort of sidekick in my bathroom adventures. When I need to sneak away from the crowds and just be in the moment, drunk and alone, bathrooms make for the perfect hideaway and I think the scruffy brunette in his black t-shirt and jeans uniform feels the same way. It’s like a little bond we have: no names, few words besides my drunken rambles, and never knowing when our paths will cross again. So, though I seek out the bathroom for alone time, I don’t mind being alone with him.
“What are you thinking about?” he raises an eyebrow as I wipe my mouth post-chug.
“How there is no heaven,” I answer, steadying myself before I can explain. “You know, like, we all have these crazy and unrealistic expectations about what life will be like postmortem, but that’s just it. There is no life after death. When you die, it’s over. Your world stops and you just, like, stop existing.”
“Kind of fucked, isn’t it?” he mumbles as he sinks lower into the tub and I take a minute to be thankful for the fact that he continues to be a man of few words.
“Fucking scary, is what it is,” I remark as I hold onto the sink, pulling myself up. The first thing I see is a shock of coral in the mirror. Who let me dye my hair coral? I yank my hair out of its obnoxiously high bun and watch as it cascades down my shoulders, tickling my upper back. I guess it looks alright against my ivory skin. Note to self: keep hair down. I adjust the Jimmy Eat World t-shirt tucked into my jean shorts and prepare to return to the party, yet I can’t stop thinking about life and death and what this world wants from me.
Tub boy waves me off as I slowly stagger back to the real world, full of loud 20-something year olds attempting to shout louder than the overplayed hip hop that every white person knows. Anyone who knows me knows that my ultimate party high always comes from my return from the bathroom; enough time spent there and suddenly the party around you is enough to send you into momentary culture shock, peaking your anxiety and forcing you to wish you were sober enough to understand how the–seemingly–two worlds are one. I finally exhale as I push through the crowd of soul searching punk rock wannabes until I’m in the center of it all, swaying to the music. I talk to no one, focusing solely on the beat of the song and the beat of my heart which always leaves me wondering how a heart can beat so quick when it feels so little.
I think I let myself be sad for so long that parts of me faded away as time kept moving forwards and for awhile, I was really lost–in who I was and who I wanted to be. I forgot what it meant to be happy, what it was like to smile until my cheeks hurt, or to laugh until I’d find myself clutching my aching stomach and gasping for air like a fish on land. It wasn’t until I realized that putting on some act for the world around me would never benefit me, but hurt me instead, that I finally remembered what it was like to spend my evenings in coffee shops, reading poetry until the espresso shots wore off; and now spending my nights at parties, chugging cheap beer and sneaking away to share tub boy’s flask.
I’ve never known how to be free or simple as I was always too caught up in being “too complicated” for me to even figure out. But, after finding my happy medium, I think I finally learned to let it all go. The only problem is that lately I’m not too sure just how happy of a happy medium I’ve found. I’m still not sure what I want or “where I see myself in five years” type of bullshit, so for now I simply sway and think about how easy it would be to skip town and start all over again. I sway until the music fades out and the party shuts down and the people are all gone. Tub boy meets my eyes and gives me one final wave as he mouths, see you. Because even though we don’t really know each other, the one thing we do know is that there will always be a next time.
Author: Melina Smith