Le beau took me to the unpaved trail by the lake. When our bikes hit the loose gravel, I was reminded of the time we went off-roading in Colorado. On the trail, my legs burned. It was up, up, up, and then down. And then back up. We then turned back around, where I felt myself sailing over rocks, flying through the dips.
I thought about how there are lots of things in life that I can’t control and how I shouldn’t get too wrapped up in those things, even if they make me seem like a better person. I thought of how I want to live a happy life, a funny life, as opposed to a great life. I thought about how a strange fixation on death had made way for a stranger fixation on life, and how I sometimes feel like an Egyptian pharaoh, wondering about the things we can and cannot take with us later on.
Then I realized we were not wearing helmets, and that we could very well topple to our deaths right then and there, loose gravel, soaring pavement, so unceremoniously, not pharaoh-like at all, so I focused intensely on the sunflowers gliding past us and keeping my hands on the handlebars.
When we arrived back at the parking garage, adrenaline pumping, I felt restless. I wanted to go somewhere. He wanted to go somewhere. We dropped the bikes off, I fed my pigs, and we hopped into his truck to go – where were we going, again? He asked. I shrugged. Left or right? Don’t make me choose, I said. 1 or 0? 1. So we went… right.
And so the night went, us driving aimlessly in the dark, first to a fast food restaurant, then to a sandwich chain. In the parking lot of the local Indian entertainment center – bar, club and restaurant all rolled into one – I stared out the window, munching on my sandwich, carefully watching a cricket in the parking lot. He had found some sort of thin white object, a cracker, maybe, and then crawled on top of it, stayed still. This went on for another ten minutes, as a single tear rolled down my cheek. What was this? I thought to myself. A scene from The Weeknd’s music video?
I saw you dancing in a crowded room
You look so happy when I’m not with you
But then you saw me, caught you by surprise
A single teardrop falling from your eye
At the image of a crowded room, my mind drifted to how I used to go to frat parties. It makes no sense why I did. I dislike people, I dislike loud noises, I dislike bright lights, and I dislike humans breathing within 5 feet of me. It makes me visibly angry. I shuddered at the thought of people breathing on the grapes I bought in the grocery store. I can only imagine the kind of terror I would feel nowadays, squashed amongst sweaty, inebriated humans in a dark, pulsating room. Jesus Christ. The only thing I might have liked was the cheap alcohol, but then again, I barely drank any. So I must have gone to these parties for social approval, I concluded. Whose approval, I don’t know. But some invisible People’s approval clearly mattered to me.
This eventually spiraled into us going down memory lane – specifically, how one of us played the field back in the day. Le beau puffed and fumed in the driver’s seat, at all the snuggles doled out for free, the truly unceremonious DFMO’s tied with the desperate desire for social approval. The texts, the dates. When I said I hadn’t felt attraction towards these people, really on the cusp of being aromantic, le beau only fumed more. He said he was so distraught, he needed fries.
So we bought fries. He continued on his rampage, as I wryly looked over, stole his fries, and commented that it was Women’s Equality Day. Hardly the day to shame a woman for the decisions she’s made in her life.. Eventually he simmered down, and I asked to play J. Cole. For old time’s sake. For the next twenty minutes, we sang in the car, Cole blasting, fries crinkled in our mouths, the man in the car beside us glimpsing us, non-adolescents in the crux of our adolescence. We rapped about math class, we rapped about b- a-. A long time ago, we had listened to this album together – he introduced me to it. At the stoplight, I felt a wave of déjà vu.