Should I stay or should I go (out)?

There comes a time in every twenty-whatever’s weekend where you have to make a difficult decision. It generally happens on a Saturday around 8 p.m., and becomes especially difficult if you’ve stayed out late on Friday and/or started with brunch that day. It’s the moment where you stop, reevaluate your current outfit for appropriateness and pay attention to your body for just a minute to see if there is any lingering hint of “I’ll have two shots and all of the beers” from the night before, via acid swirling in your stomach or drums playing on your brain. A quick check of the bank account balance, and then it’s decision time: Am I heading home for a hot date with popcorn and Netflix, or are we going out?

This is what happens when M and I stay in.

This is what happens when M and I stay in.

The most committed relationship I’ve ever been in is with my sweatpants. I love nothing more than sitting on my couch in my ratty college pants and an old sorority t-shirt, wrapped in blankets, engulfed by my lion’s mane of tangled weekend hair. However, this past weekend I had “rally” stamped across my forehead to remind myself that this would be an intense two days, as a joint birthday celebration for N and my partner-in-crime R was on the books. The original plan was to have a college-esque Friday night in a beer hall in the West Village, watching basketball and playing old card games, surrounded by massive beer steins and all of our friends, followed by a fancy Saturday in the Meatpacking, dressed to the nines, chasing cocktails with cute boys. It didn’t seem that daunting at the time – after all, this is a girl who went out a minimum of six nights a week in college, and even now can head out for happy hour that lasts till midnight and make it into the office for an 8 a.m. call with Europe. Staying in wasn’t part of the plan.

After “going out on Friday” turned into “getting home at 5 a.m. on Saturday,” I found myself in a tight spot the next night, grimacing through a pre-dinner beer with R and a few friends, suppressing the urge to burp what felt like carbonation for fear it would lead to me losing the contents of my stomach, trying to ignore the pound, pound, pound of my heartbeat resonating on the right side of my brain, beat please stop drinking beat I’m only going to make this worse for you beat are you sure you aren’t going to vomit? I was dolled up in my favorite jumpsuit and heels, torrential-rain-be-damned levels of makeup on my face and cash in hand for the $15 cocktails awaiting at Brass Monkey, and yet here I was, barely able to finish a Sam Summer, mood rapidly deteriorating as I realized that this night just wasn’t going to happen for me.

I triiiiiiied

I triiiiiiied

Sometimes the hardest decisions to make are the ones that are already made whether you realize it or not. That’s not a commentary on fate or pre-determined destiny, but at times, intuition tells us what we’re going to do in the end, waiting for your mind to catch up with your heart as you tell yourself there’s still a choice. On occasion, it’s a simple decision, like scrolling through Seamless pretending you aren’t just going to get your standard Thai takeout; and other times it’s more complicated, like walking away from a relationship where you haven’t been happy in months. It sucks when your intuition isn’t telling you what you want to hear: you want to believe you really are going to order tacos this time, that you’ll enjoy moving out of your apartment, that it’s possible to salvage a broken relationship. But sometimes, a poor decision is pushing yourself into something you’ve already decided you don’t want.

There was no way I was making it out on Saturday unless I wanted to subject the birthday girl to a night of me crouched over in the corner, dry-heaving and grimacing at anyone who came near; or condemn myself to a Sunday on the floor of my bathroom, likely handling a migraine, crippling nausea and deep, deep regret for that final old fashioned all in one. My birthday gift to R was taking my fun-police ass home to pass out in front of Saturday Night Live on my couch. I’m sure that me heading home won’t be the always be the case when I’m faced yet again with the eternal, “should I stay or should I go (out)” dilemma – after all, I wouldn’t have a blog if that were the case. But after waking up yesterday to my cat on my pillow and a clear head as I faced a full day of babysitting, cooking and cleaning, I’m pretty confident it was the right one in this case.

 

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The worst decision.

Heading home from a long day of drinking last night, I stopped for a minute to reflect on the absurd weekend I’d just had. In 72 hours, I’d met two fabulous drag queens and surprised them at their drunk brunch show, been lost in 3 neighborhoods, exercised for exactly zero hours and currently had three different boys texting me  after being a bit too loose with my number at the last bar. As I leaned my head back and tried to ignore the fact that this was rapidly becoming the most expensive cab ride I’d ever taken, I knew the hangover, the growing bruise on my leg and the hit my already-broke bank account took this weekend were all worth it. This was the stuff I’d look back on in twenty years and remember. Well, mostly remember.

I paid the cab driver the massive fee I’d racked up getting from the West Village back home to Washington Heights, stepped over one of my neighbors passed out on the stairwell and made my way up 5 flights of stairs to my apartment, all while in 4-inch kicks, insides saturated with mimosas, beer and bad food. Collapsing onto the couch like I’d run a 10K, I gave the cat a head rub and thought about where I was for the Super Bowl last year: snuggled up with my then-boyfriend of three years, blissfully unaware of the 12 months of heartbreak ahead of me, only aware of the fact that we were slowly talking about moving in together and thinking maybe, just maybe, he would propose on our trip to Aruba that next month.

When a relationship falls apart, it’s not like a movie montage, a blurry series of painful moments and over in a flash. Living through those moments feels like wading through mud uphill, trying to catch his hand as he runs, runs, runs away. The worst decision I ever made was to fight for a relationship when he wouldn’t fight with me. I spent months fists up, giving him piece after piece after piece of myself, desperate for him to love me in the way I wanted him to, needed him to. When he finally snapped, screaming at me that he didn’t want the things I wanted, I could feel the pieces of my heart he held crumble, slowly blowing away, like a whisper in a crowded room. Finally walking away from Us took every piece of courage and strength I could muster, and I spent the next 24 hours in a daze, unable to feel anything unless I was feeling everything.

After just a few days, I started feeling something else that I wasn’t expecting. Rather than finding myself overwhelmed with grief and loss, I felt relief. Slow building and impossible to ignore, relief started flowing through every vein to every limb and every part of myself. I nearly collapsed with the weight of such a feeling, unable to believe that it took just a few days to feel any semblance of normal after nearly four years of an intense and wonderful love. I took that relief and used it to remember all the things about myself that I’d neglected while entrenched in the losing battle for Us, like how much I love pushing myself at the gym and how much I enjoyed living alone.

Back on my couch, the cat nipped at my hand and brought me to the present. The clock said 9:45, but I was drunk, tired and stuffed with free wings and other football fare, so dammit if I didn’t want to go to bed. I sent a quick text to my friend to make sure she was home safe, and then turned my phone on silent, lest the bartender I don’t plan on seeing ever again text me another sweet pick-up line, a follow-up to his opener of “What’s your opinion of tequila?”

It may be an interesting concept, sharing the comically bad decisions of your mid-to-late 20s, but when you’ve already made a decision that caused you to lose yourself completely, suddenly telling people about the drunk 2 a.m. purchase of leather sweatpants, or the not-so-well-received joke about gonads in an internal work meeting isn’t the worst. In fact, it’s pretty funny. And after such a long year of heartbreak and loss, funny is exactly what I need.