CW: references to addiction and drug use
Leaning up against the car, the damp scent of new dawn permeating the air. I close my eyes, grasping a cup of coffee and remembering mornings in gas station parking lots, the condensation of my breath mixed with smoke, the shape of a styrofoam cup, the scent of grease and gasoline soaked into the concrete, the red dawn breaking open like bloody eggs on a skillet. This morning resonates, echoes across time, only this cup is ceramic and this backdrop is a home, of sorts, drenched in the scent of memories. Still combustible, but a different kind of accelerant.
I woke to the sound of their alarm, realizing that I have now slept here enough that I am not disoriented by the shape and feel of their body against mine. The alarm is familiar, the same one I hear at home several days a week when my partner is getting ready for work, and the familiarity is at once soothing and disconcerting. Their shape shifts and settles- five more minutes- and I breathe in the scent of their hair against my face, musk and leather and the raw humanness of shared heat through the night.
There is a quiet peace to this morning, the sense of a tempest held at bay. I want to do things for the sake of saying I’ve done them. I want to lay in this bed and write. I want to leave a cigarette butt in the ashtray to find later. I wonder if I bring myself to orgasm in these sheets this morning, will the scent of me last through the day? Would I even want it to?
I seem to have forgotten how to experience the world in these tactile, sensory ways- through scent and touch and taste and sound. When five minutes have passed and they crawl wearily from bed, fumbling to locate their pants, they stand silhouetted in the low light, and my eyes squint open to the sight of a morning erection as they fumble to get their pants over their cock. The novelty of the image makes me smile, sleepily.
This morning is ripe with possibility and fermented with memory. An older iteration of myself, familiar with the reckless taste and desperate scent of gas stations at dawn, peeks out behind my eyes and recognizes this feeling. Not much has changed, she thinks, smugly at first until she realizes that this cup I’m clutching pushes back against my hands and does not give way like styrofoam and the road stretching out before me leads to a dead-end driveway and not the transience of a gas station refuge. With tentative probes, she finds that I am waking from sleep and not another diet-pill binge, that the bleariness is truly waking and not the frantic exhaustion of too many days without standing still.
Here, I practiced sitting still. When I focused on it, I could do it, mostly, but once my mind wandered, my feet began to shift and I cursed each pacing step across a kitchen I am slowly beginning to understand. As always, they seem content with my restlessness- or if not content, it doesn’t seem to be offputting. I think about it later, relaxing into them and allowing my body to sink against theirs, wondering if they register the unclenching in my muscles, the unspooling tension that brings me to constant vibration and movement when I am awake.
I forget that other people do not instinctively classify biochemical feedback from others.
I came outside to smoke a cigarette because I wanted to leave some small piece of me behind again. As I lit up, I found one of my handrolled butts sitting away from the ashtray like maybe, when they cleaned it, they pulled a piece of me aside and left it as a reminder. I don’t know if that’s true or just remarkably coincidental happenstance, but it’s what I choose to believe, anyway, because it makes me smile, and I look for meaning in cigarette butts and tarot cards that I want to read in the bathroom where the air is still moist from their shower. I still want to do things just to say that I have done them. I find movement in the pursuit of stillness.
So much sensory input. I am reading them in the damp shape of their feet on the bathmat and the lines around their eyes when they smile, in the scent of their room and a worn out cigarette sitting by a newly-emptied ashtray. I look for meaning where there is none to be found, but that small voice in the back of my mind is still looking through my eyes and recognizing chaos and nicotine and breathing in moments of self-satisfaction, that there is still recklessness in homes and a slow unfurling outside of too many hours in a car to nowhere, and that dawn still breaks to clean condensation and that first cigarette still brings a buzz, even after all this time.
And writing still feels like bleeding, and I have hemorrhaged language in these corners when I thought no one was watching. I leave small stains on the upholstery and bring pieces of each space with me, stuck under my fingernails where I tried to scrape it clean. It’s a mutual scarring; a piece of myself left behind, a piece of them carried with me. I’m the kind of person that picks up feathers and bones off the sidewalk; this is no different.
I am not the person I was a decade ago, but I’m glad she still lives somewhere in me, peering out behind my eyes, the facade of certainty fooling no one. She is the taste of sulfur, but I’m out of matches. She wants to believe nothing changes, but the context of these moments are foreign to her, and she reframes them into a paradigm that she can understand.
She is the part of me that doesn’t understand her own worth. She is the part of me that knows the taste and shape of pills that mean we never sit still, and my tongue rejects the shadow of memory that she conjures. I lean back against the car, letting the sound of the birds and the roar of a bus permeate my skin. I clutch this cup of coffee, grateful for the solid, smooth glaze pressing back against my hands, unyielding. These are styrofoam memories, giving way to the firm grasp of a ceramic reality. The asphalt under my feet is solid. It makes sense that I can only see what is not related to me, when “me” is such a changing, transient form that I don’t always recognize my own presence.
(1) This feels like the beginning to a much longer piece on addiction, identity, and mental health, and I have no idea if (or when) I will ever finish it. It was written as a challenge to myself to write in unfamiliar places.
(2) I reference my past with female pronouns because those are appropriate for that time period. Those are no longer appropriate for me now.
(3) This is a different style of writing than I usually post on here, and it’s not overtly kinky, but it’s real in the ways that kink requires I be real and present, so I decided to post it here.