You reread the text messages 4,000 times. Put down your phone. Don’t look at it. Or you'll give it all the power. You broke. You fractured. You now seek the familiar. In the city of lost souls. Shit.
With that, the break-up drinking begins.
That first night is spent sucking down Ballast Point at Blind Tiger. Fucking fruit beer. You remove the stupid wedge of citrus and leave it on your bev nap for the bartender to collect at 4am. Your friends are fighting. Trump just bombed Syria. The world is big and small at the same time. But you still feel raw.
You head to La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. You down Pichler-Kruztler Grüner Vetliner like it’s chilled Chamomile tea. It pops your sober cherry and you feel the buzz.
You slide into Le Coucou by name dropping. Maybe the city is small? Langoustines should be their own food pyramid. Some ’03 Frank Balthazar Cornas, followed by ’96 Château d’Yquem. You’re warm and thankful for the past.
You drink Manhattans. Everywhere. Greenpoint, Fort Greene, UES, LES, West Village, Bushwick. Oh, Bushwick. You flirt with the bartender and give him the wrong idea. Chinatown next. God, it smells. You welcome it. You welcome discomfort. Old Overholt, always. And you are thankful for your present.
You go home. Sometimes happy and relieved. Sometimes sad, with drops of melancholy. But more often, mad. The mad surprises you. That anger that you never feel. It pushes, up.
Let’s drink whiskey. Lots of whiskey. Good whiskey. Shitty whiskey. Couple of cubes. Then none. You wash it down with dollar pizza and don't think about it.
Pour out some whiskey. One for me, and one for my homies. The ones that have been there. Constant. The ones that weren’t there, but came back. Solid. The ones you may never see again. So long. For now.
Then you see him. How long has it been? Years. Two, maybe three? He thought you were gone. But you knew he was there. In this city. This fucking city. With so many ghosts.
There’s a pool table. And a Miller Highlife in your hand, the champagne of beers. He’s looking at you. You cover your smile with the top of the bottle. And you're thankful for your future.
You drink this slowly. There's no rush. It's not like before. It never will be the same. There's all the time in the world.
You cried. You heaved. You sought comfort. You found some. And then you found none. But finally, and maybe from the beginning, you recognize yourself. And you smile.
The hangover hits. Move through it. As you did, through everything else. The open wound heals. First with bandaids. Then with stitches. Finally, your own fresh. The scar fades.