I’ll never learn my lesson. As long as the people who raised me continue to allow me safe harbor over the holidays, I will continue to make it home base for less than stellar hometown interactions. Each year, I round up a handful gentlemen who I haven’t seen in months, and we attempt to reconnect with the last few girls from high school who will still acknowledge our existence. That’s okay, though.
I stumbled out of an Uber at roughly 1:02 a.m. That’s apparently what time the Dodge Ram 1500 and I parted ways. I was alone. Roaring into the family home before a holiday is one thing, but the inevitable shaming that will follow is an experience I refuse to put another human through. At least that’s what I’ve told myself. Truthfully, I just don’t care about that stuff like I used to. I don’t let it consume my existence.
I passed out without brushing my teeth. The taste of bourbon and failure sat unbothered all night. After sitting down at the kitchen table, I was informed that I was found on the floor, with the family dog under my left arm. Some would be embarrassed by such news, but not me. If that’s the worst thing I did on the night before Thanksgiving, I think I made out just fine.
My dear mother peppers me with questions. She is completely oblivious to my current state, a fact made clear to the inquisition regarding the whereabouts of hometown friends. It happens every year. I name off each member of the group from the night before and am careful to include where they live, what they do, and their marital status. It’s the same list as last year, and the year before that.
I shovel egg casserole into my mouth. With each bite, it becomes more clear that making it through this meal will be a challenge. My synapses are firing at a rapid pace. Coffee was an interesting choice. On one hand, it’s been apart of my morning routine for years. On the other, heightening my senses at a table full of family is like dropping acid at the airport. I should have known better. Aside from my mother, everyone at the table knows I’m close to flatlining.
I take a bite of cantaloupe before excusing myself from the table. I haven’t checked my phone in nearly an hour as it has sat on a charger in my childhood bedroom from the moment I pulled it out of the dark-washed jeans I woke up in. I smile as I am greeted by twenty-two notifications. There are no missed calls, which leads me to believe that everyone made it home safely and my father’s legal services are not needed this time around. I am correct. Everyone is accounted for. I scroll down and read the same “I’m dead” text over and over.
Then the face time hits. It’s Connor.
Shirtless and puffy-eyed, he didn’t say a word. Just laughter. I walked over to my bedroom door and shut it, because I knew exactly where this conversation was going. He wasn’t alone, and he wasn’t in his bedroom. I’ve known Connor for over two decades, and that room was definitely not the place I used to spend hours playing Mario Kart in. Whatever deal he was able to close, it had to have happened after I left the bar. After simply asking, “What the fuck?”, she appeared. A dark haired girl, probably in her early twenties, wearing an Ole Miss sweatshirt that looked to be a few sizes too big.
He did it. Like a proud older brother, I shook my head and sat down on my bed. I’m a team player, and no matter how much jealousy the other members of the group would feel, I knew this could only be a positive for us. This was the spark that would change the course of our holiday weekend..
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