You have a one-night stand. And for six months, whenever you think about it, all you remember is smashed sex. Dirty and drunk. Fairly pleasant. Then your dick starts to rot. And all of the sudden the context changes. What once was a successful night of barhopping, now it’s your biggest mistake. Time has a way of doing that. Of bending your memories over a chair long after the fact.
* * *
Ted and I went to a baseball game. This was three months ago. For a couple hours we drove. Narrow mountain highways. Two lanes flanked by redwoods and curving left then right then left again. Every mile the sky grew darker and darker, early afternoon looking more like night.
By the time the highway expanded, eight lanes across and shooting straight through cityscapes and suburbia, by then rain was slapping the windshield like a jockey prodding his horse forward. But of course, it only slowed us. Left us just another set of red taillights in a procession stretching miles. And even though the radio assured a rainout, we crept forward. No way we’d turn back over that serpentine pass with the weather so fucked.
Of course, the game was rained out. And Ted and I, eighty miles and a waterlogged eternity from home, we posted up at a stadium-side dive. Drinking flat pints that tasted of saw dust we waited out last call. Then we pulled Ted’s car into the stadium lot and slept on reclined seats.
I woke up sometime around dawn to strips of pink sky flying past and a sinking feeling deep within—like my stomach was collapsing on itself. I grunted for Ted to pull over, vomited all down the side of his car. Lay back, comatose until we reached my apartment.
Even in bed I rolled around all fitful, unable to sleep off the hangover. Thirsty as shit and wishing anything I’d stayed home the night before. Wishing I’d smoked a joint and watched a movie. What wouldn’t have been better than that miscarriage of an evening?
* * *
And there were other times just the same. Times pissed away on hard drink and soft threats. Times I would have lived a dozen different ways if I could have. Always what I could have.
Then last week, Ted passed. How isn’t important. Just gone. And what could have been is nothing. Just what was. And all the bullshit that now adds up to all of everything. Just fuck what I said before about that night.