I spent the better part of last week laying out next to pools in mid-Michigan, nursing Bud Lights, and seeing friends that I hadn’t been able to hang out with since Christmas. By day five of my visit back to my parents house, I was beginning to get restless. Monday through Thursday just sort of morphed into each other. I watched a lot of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. If there’s any celebrity I’d want to travel the world with eating foie gras and drinking expensive alcohol, it’s Tony B. But I can only watch a dickhead make snide remarks about the city he’s visiting – on someone else’s dime, no less – so many times before my mind starts to wander.
Did I want to text my ex-girlfriend just to hear about her day? Or give her a call to see how her birthday party that I wasn’t able to attend went? Of course, I did. But I held off on that, in part because I didn’t want to bother her but also because I knew I was going to see her at a mutual friends wedding on Saturday. We never actually talked about being one anothers dates, but the amount of time I’ve been spending with her was enough that I think both of us just silently agreed that we’d go together. A little background on the bride: I went to high school with her, and when we both moved to separate colleges in Michigan, I figured the purely platonic relationship we had would come to a screeching halt. But as fate would have it, she ended up becoming friends her freshman year with a girl who I would go on to date for two years. I’ve hashed out that sordid tale of romance plenty of times, so I’ll spare all of you a recap about the ups, downs, and in-betweens. But the bride is one of my best friends, and she was glowing on the day of her wedding. It’s sappy, cliche, and wildly unoriginal to say this, but I couldn’t be happier for her.
Being that it was my last weekend in Michigan for the foreseeable future, I was getting a little nostalgic about some things. More specifically, I was getting a tad sentimental about my ex, a girl who I’m always going to feel like I let slip through my fingers. And it all sort of came to a head following the wedding ceremony on Saturday afternoon. This was a classic Catholic wedding ceremony, meaning that it went on for way longer than it should have. Set to begin at noon and ending around 1:15, me, my ex, and several other college friends of the bride had three hours to kill before hors d’oeuvre and drinks began at the reception. We settled on a restaurant a short cab ride from where the reception was being held that specializes in sangria.
If you could, just for a moment, please try and picture ten privileged millennials drinking wine with fruit out of mason jars in suits and dresses. It’s repulsive, yes, but it’s also incredibly refined at the same time, isn’t it? We sat there sipping sangria and waxing poetic about drunken nights together back in college. Pictures on Facebook were getting pulled up and passed around the table so everyone could make their own comment on what they remembered about the night. I had my arm around her hip, people were laughing, and in that moment, everything just felt right. We left the sangria joint three or four pitchers later, arriving about ten minutes early to the reception. I munched on bacon wrapped scallops and talked to the bride’s father for a few minutes about nothing particularly important. There’s a certain air of excitement that one feels before a wedding reception starts. Everyone is crowded around each other in two or three rooms. The open bar has just opened, the hors d’oeuvres are being trotted out every other couple of minutes and people are downright jolly.
I sat at a table very close to the bride and grooms head table near the dance floor. At this point, I have to imagine that I was beginning to show tell-tale signs of being over served. The glazed eyes, the red face, the volume of my voice getting louder as I’d try to tell a joke at the table I was sitting at. I opted for water throughout the dinner. This was the smartest thing I did all night. By the time the bride and groom had finished their first dance, people were quite literally chomping at the bit to get on the dance floor. One of my best friends also had the privilege of attending this wedding, and I vividly remember holding the man back from getting on the dance floor because the first goddamn song hadn’t even ended yet.
To say that the next two and half hours were raucous would not do it justice. I danced pretty much the entire time, slow dancing with you know who whilst sipping vodka sodas and whispering sweet nothings into her ear that she and I both knew I actually meant. The classics all got played. The lead singer of the band even let me drunkenly yell a few lyrics of Brown Eyed Girl into the microphone. I wasn’t thinking about my move halfway across the country. I wasn’t thinking about leaving her in Chicago. I was simply living in the moment, happy to be there. The reception ended. I must have drank something like three or four Bud Lights and more vodka-sodas than I can count on two hands. In summation, I was drunk. I ate a slice of red velvet cake to try and soak some of the alcohol up, and the same group who attended the sangria session some five hours before was now ready to head to a popular college bar a few minutes from the reception that was now over. It was something like 10:30 PM when we arrived dressed to the nines. The bar was beginning to fill up with 19, 20, and 21-year-olds, but we were all so drunk it didn’t matter. Our group of 24 and 25-year-olds continued dancing, unaware and completely unapologetic about moshing, grinding, and pulling out sub-par dance moves. We were absolutely the oldest people in the bar and it wasn’t close. I loved it.
By 1:00 a.m. (at least that’s what time I think it was), I was pooped. My internal battery on low, I left the seedy bar in favor a pizza place across the street with my ex girlfriend and a mutual friend of ours. We got milkshakes and hopped in a cab back to the hotel. After dropping the friend off in her room down the hall, I went back to my room accompanied by my ex and I told her I loved her before we fell asleep. That was it. The next morning, everyone had a nice recap of the night over bagels and coffee provided by the bride and groom. My flight to Austin, set for later that night was looming. If I’m being honest, I had been dreading this particular part of the weekend for longer than I’d care to tell you. I said my goodbyes to the people scattered around the hotel lobby, and she walked me out to my car for a final goodbye.
“I’m gonna miss you.”
“Well, duh,” I said, trying to keep it light. “Open invite to Austin whenever you’re ready.”
“I’ll come down once you get settled. Let’s just not make a scene out here.”
I wrestled with telling her something I knew I shouldn’t say, and in the end decided against it. She already knows how I feel about her. Verbalizing it just would have made me, her, or both of us a little too melancholy. So I did the only other thing I could do in that moment. I gave her a hug, a final kiss goodbye, and she turned around to go back into the lobby. With “I Get Along Without You Very Well” by Chet Baker playing in my car, I headed to Detroit Metropolitan Airport away from all things familiar and into the unknown..