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a smoke break from life

There is a patio for smoke breaks from life. We were sitting at the table in the green patio chairs. He smoked and I allowed the smoke escaping his body to drift towards me without any effort of diverting it.

I would inhale. The smoke coming through my nostrils, jogging my memory of that one night not long out of college. We sat in the brisk Portland air and smoked our cigarettes and sipped our wine that came from a box. We felt lucky that all we needed was each other to feel completely untouchable. Serotonin. She has it tattooed on her ribcage and I know it is something involved in my happiness. I guess they are linked. Her and serotonin.

My white wine and the friend that made me feel untouchable disappeared as he began his tale. He spoke lowly. His face was slightly distorted when he moved his lips. His jaw, seeming to allow movement similar to a gymnast’s torso, took away my attention. I assumed it was because of the drug use. His eyes never did look straight into mine. I would guess that they were blue because of his blonde hair.  As he spoke telling me his story I smiled, like I always do, and listened. He spoke about death matter of factly. He spoke about drug use as though it is all he knows. He wore a black hoodie and the lights shined in such a way that his face consisted of shadows. No features. The house next door was having a birthday party. Karaoke was the entertainment. Mariachi songs played as young people screeched the lyrics. Me and this shadow faced man could feel the bass in the souls of our feet. His lips continued moving as the screeching and mariachi melodies overwhelmed the air, transforming this conversation into a struggle. Eventually I gave up trying to hear his low voice over the screeching. I watched his lips and as I did the features below the shadows, became recognizable. He became somebody I knew. His became the face across from me in Psychology class or the friend of a friend who’s house was being used for the party. He had tred a similar path.

My childhood was idyllic.

These words I heard as the Mariachi ceased, waiting for the next singer to approach the microphone. A mixture of gratitude and grief filled the souls of my feet where the Mariachi had fled from.

He continued and so did the screeching. There was a sense of futility in his muted words.

I rolled my windows down. It was a still, warm evening, leaving my pores thirsty and sweaty at once.

“Shut up and dance me.”

I began screeching the lyrics to the song because really all I ever want to do is dance with somebody. Or nobody. Nobody works too. Dancing with the wrong people is similar to dancing with nobody.

I get home. I hear the growling that greets me every night because past 10pm is no longer trustworthy. I calmly say her name, the dog that is growling, and she begins to wag her tail as I round the corner of the wooden door that leads to my parents’ room.   There are flashes of light and color lighting up their profiles, that have not yet turned towards me. My mom was laying in bed, my dad sitting on the wooden beam that holds the bed together. It is low enough for his long legs to hang over. I began to watch what they watched. A skit from Saturday Nigh Live. Emma Stone was dancing erratically along with other young people. I think they would be the right people to dance with. Our profiles lit up as we watched the goofy people on the television. They dance and we watched as they convinced us that life was danceable.


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