I came looking for something.
I can’t remember what.
I’m here at a gutted space formerly designated for big, mechanical, unnatural beasts called buses. People would ride these beasts all over the country. Now people use this space to dance drunk and develop tinnitus.
The headliner is local rapper Darling D. She raps with J.D. Salinger’s wit.
The drink I’m sucking down is a long island iced tea. I’m off sobriety’s wagon and hanging on the rails of this downtown establishment. The wounds of my breakup are nine months fresh and I’m a newborn baby boy ready to cry his way into existence. But I must contain myself if I wish to not be eighty-sixed from yet another drinking space. I can allow myself six drinks, seven at max.
Knowing your limit is important.
The show starts.
I start on drink seven.
Drink seven is strong, unlike the others.
I had watched as the bartender poured thick amounts of rum, gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec, and just the tiniest dash of sour mix and cola. When I reached for a well-deserved tip, I realized I blew my wad of tip bills on those no-good-punk-purveyors of six less formidable drinks. I still feel like shit for not being able to properly tip that patron saint of alcohol.
I squeeze the lemon wedge over the ice cubes, toss the wedge in the trash, and suck down the mighty long island like it’s the cure for loneliness. I hit the bottom of the glass and something familiar about the music draws my attention. I rush to the floor and listen to the lyrics with my drunk will bent on auditory recognition. Drunk will succeeds and it dawns on me that my delayed synapses are deciphering Darling D doing a cover of the Springsteen classic I’m Going Down. I fall down.
A man in a yellow jacket marked “security” brings me to my feet and outside of this former bus depot turned music venue.
He tells me to, “Sober up.”
I tell him, “Damn your harsh societal standards!”
With that authoritarian advice, Yellow Jacket walks back inside and informs the doorman I am not allowed to follow.
This is bullshit.
I plead with and curse the doorman, telling him in slurred speech that I am sober and what a dumbass he is for not recognizing my sobriety. But I’m a functioning alcoholic and know when to fold. Getting nowhere, I stand at the corner and light a cigarette.
I gaze aimless into the street, when another familiar sound calls my attention.
I turn around and see my ex with her new woman.
“Beeeeth! What’s suuup?”
Beth looks like the statue of a Greek Goddess—aesthetically amazing and waiting for the breath of life to be blown into her perfect, symmetric, mathematic form. But her beauty went deeper than that. She is beautiful in all those imperfect ways I could never appreciate until she was no longer mine. I am starting to realize she was never mine. Like a book you borrow from the library that returns itself without telling you that the story was over.
We hug polite.
I shake hands with her girlfriend.
She has a sculptor’s grip.
“What are you doing here?” Beth asks me.
I take a drag and lie.
“Oh. I’m, I’m, I’m just taking a smoke break. Yeah. A smoke break. Before I get back in there. I’m doing an article for, for Urban Documents. Ya know? The free, local paper?” This is bad lie. I have to stop. “But what are you guys, I mean both of you, you two, I mean, the two of you, doing here? I thought you moved to California.”
“We did. We’re just back for the weekend. Michelle and I both really like Darling D.” Beth hated Darling D when we were together. “So, we thought we’d see her while in town.”
“Cool, cool. Very cool.”
“Well, Kevin, it was good seeing you.”
“Yeah. Good seeing you. Both of you. Enjoy the show.”
The two have their tickets scanned and walk in, arms looped around each other. Beth turns and gives me a look as her wrist gets banded.
I smile and shake my hand like an etch-a-sketch.
The door closes and she’s gone.
I look at my phone and scroll through my contacts. I have no one to call for a ride. I start towards the light rail. We guide circumstance when we seek new places to be. So, I walk down the slab of concrete and everything’s normal until I hear the sound of a panicked gallop coming from behind. I turn around. My eyes meet the gaze of a twelve-point buck rushing through the concrete corridors of downtown Minneapolis, hopped up on fear, and freaking out at all the urban-overstimulation.
The people near me scatter.
I stick out my thumb like a drunk hitchhiker. The wild animal calms his frantic panic and gives me a slight nod as he steers his aim towards me. He doesn’t slow. I reach for an antler as he blows past. I grab hold of this natural defense and swing upon the beast’s back.
I ride this natural beast wherever it takes me.
Wanderlust will carry me on.