Sunday, July 19, 2009

The F*ck-It List Part Three: The Hangover

In case you missed them:
The F*ck-It List Part One: Summer of Redesign
The F*ck-It List Part Deux: Baseball, Beer, and Blackouts

There is no mistaking that feeling you get after a night on the town and one too many adult beverages. The distinct dryness of your mouth that resonates down the back of your throat like you swallowed a mouth full of cinnamon. The red, puffy eyes that actually make you contemplate whether or not that stupid cucumber trick really works. The pounding sensation that you can only find in the frontal lobe of your head or a club of fist pumpers. Oh yeah, and the fact that if you breath just hard enough, you just might make the people around you blow a positive on a breathalyzer test. You may have had your fun last night, but now … not so much. Damn, I needed some Pedialyte, stat.

As I wandered from my hotel bed and made my way to the bathroom, I tripped over the explosion of girl products and clothing that happens any time two or more women share a living space. My hands fumbled through the darkness for the bathroom light and I braced myself for what the light would reveal. Squinting, I surveyed the bathroom half expecting to find Mike Tyson, a tiger, and a chicken looking back at me. I turned to the mirror at what was left of my night of randomness. My brilliant make up artistry had been reduced to something that looked like it had been created by a five year old. Yesterday’s perfect curls looked more along the lines of Russell Brand’s. And I’m pretty sure if you looked up Hell in the dictionary you’d be staring at my reflection.

After marveling at the results of the previous evening, I crawled back towards the bed. Alicia stirred in the second bed, and gave me the one-eye once over.

“Dude, you look like death.”

“You’re no Monet yourself whore,” I laughed. “Let’s go get breakfast.”

I threw on my brand new Sox hat and my favorite pair of Marc Jacobs, and the two of us proceeded to do the walk of shame down to the hotel lobby to find the nearest breakfast buffet. The upside to hangovers is your total lack of care as to what you ingest. I just kinda threw a little bit of everything on a plate, animal fats and all, and positioned myself on the bar stool next to Alicia. As the two of us sat there, trying our hardest to put some kind of actual nutrition into our bodies, and double fisting water glasses, a weird feeling of sadness began to creep over me. It must have crept across my face too, because it wasn’t long before Alicia noticed.

“Dude, Sterg… What’s wrong?.. “

“Honestly, I’m not sure. I mean, yesterday was probably the most fun I‘ve had in a long time. I got to explore a new city, with amazing friends, make new ones.. and maybe even found someone I am fairly intrigued by. But something just feels like its missing. You know what the problem with having fun is Alicia?? That feeling you get when you have to go back to the real world. It’s like coming off of an extreme high.. it's like…. A hangover. I won’t lie and say I remember everything that happened last night. Because in fact some of it is a downright blank. But, I get this pained feeling that I did something or said something stupid that’s going to.. “
My voice trailed off, as I looked down to find my phone flashing. One new message.

Ruh Roh.

The worst part of not remembering bits of your night is having people fill in the blanks for you, like a bizarrely messed up mad lib. And since my life follows in the grand form of Murphy’s Law, last night apparently had been no exception. I’ve always said that alcohol is one of the greatest tools man has when it comes to getting to know someone. It lowers inhibitions, loosens the mood.. but more so.. it’s a natural truth serum. As texts rolled in, pieces of last night began to fall into place. And the picture they were painting wasn’t pretty.

It wasn’t really a fight, so much as a giant misunderstanding and far too much of the sauce. He called bull$hit on a lot of things, but mainly on how I choose to sabotage any relationship I seem to run into. It’s not like it’s the first time I had heard this. But coming from someone I saw as my equal, someone who ‘got’ my situation, and got… “me” made it sting all the more. I suddenly remembered the tears rolling down my face. Not because of him or anything he had done, but because he was absolutely right. This has been a reoccurring theme in my life for some time now. It was the same movie over and over again, only my co-stars changed: The heroine in search for herself, her place in the world, and possibly someone to share that place with. Instead of a happy ending though, the credits always rolled on her finding herself all alone and still lost. It was one of those movies you sit and stare at a black screen for a few minutes to digest, before you scream out.. W.T.F. Who the hell directed this piece of crap?.. I was supposed to be the leading lady, the superhero in my own life. Instead of being the Supergirl I was, I was actually more like Rogue, where any relationship I touched turned to crap.

Maybe I had the definition of hangover completely wrong. Maybe a hangover is that sinking feeling you get, when you know that you’re making all the wrong moves now, based on experiences you’ve had before. Regardless of how far I’ve come in finding myself, I’m still too guarded and protected to really let anyone in. So I do the only thing I know how to do. I shut the world out. Maybe I had met my match in this guy. He seemed just as guarded and just as jaded as me. And now we had both slammed our doors on one another, but for some reason hadn’t walked away. We just stood there, each of us behind our doors, unsure of what to do next. We could stand there and continue the stand-off, or maybe take the chance and let each other in. So I did the only thing I knew how to do… I walked away.

I remember the hurt in his eyes, the confusion as I assumed the stance: hands in the pockets, head hung down so the brim of my hat would hide my shame and embarrassment. Jesus Jennifer. What the @#$% is wrong with you?!!?.. How do we always end up here?.. Was it really all bad timing, or the wrong guys, or some fatal flaw within myself??... I consider myself a pretty positive person, and I always try to find the good in the less than sunny situations. But what was I supposed to do now?.. What are you supposed to do if you like someone, but you can’t get forget your past experiences enough to make new ones? Or worse, what if the other person was in the same boat as you. The S.S. Misery had taken me and my romantic life on much more than a 3 hour tour, and damn it if I wasn’t sick of it.

Then, I came back to the list. Wasn’t that the whole point of this trip… to make new memories?.. Maybe that was why I had such selective memories from the previous night. Taking in the sights of the city from the top of the Prudential building, people watching at the Salty Dog, dancing in the streets with five year olds at an outdoor concert. How bout the thrill I got from the crack of the bat as I watched the ball fly over the Green Monstah for the very first time? Or the warm feeling you got when he took your hand in the street, like no one else was there? I didn’t want this story to end the same as the others. And maybe it still has a chance.

A few hours later, Alicia and I found ourselves in a cab back to Hoboken. Our stomachs were still pretty unsettled and our heads were still banging, and the cabby’s driving really wasn’t helping matters. As I held my head to the window for some fresh air, Alicia rummaged through her purse and presented me with her camera.

“Here,”’ she said. “I think you need to take a look at these.”

I scrolled through the pictures of our adventure that read like a story book. Two crazy girls, in a cab in the wee hours of the morning. Flying on the small shuttle plane, and making friends with anyone who would talk to us. The top of my drink at brunch. Ok, my stomach turned a little on that one. Us at the Sox game with Short Round in the background. Or swaying to Take Me Out to the Ballgame and Sweet Caroline. Then.. there they were:

Pictures of the Perfect Stranger and myself.

“Do you know what I see when I look at that?” asked Alicia. “I see a real smile. Not the phony ones you have to flash when you’re ‘on’ or out in the spotlight, or the game face you put on to make sure no one knows when you’re really hurting. I see real happiness. Something I haven’t seen from you in a while. You just have to quit being such an @$$hole and start letting people in. You gave our friendship a chance, doesn’t this guy deserve the same from you?”

Sure enough, she was right. The smile was the most genuine honest smile I have seen on my face in a long time. It wasn’t a picture that I posed for, it was two people enjoying each others company. In that one moment, I saw what the rest of the world saw.

Sometimes we can’t explain why God brings certain people into our lives. We can’t explain or predict the timing, because everything really does happen for a reason. If we never had our hearts broken, never got lied to, never experienced pain, how would we ever know what it was like to be alive?.. Maybe sometimes life has to be a little ugly so we can truly appreciate how beautiful it can be. For Alicia and I, the list was the sign of a new beginning, a chance to do things right the second time around. Alicia had not only reinvented Boston, and Fenway, but she even rewired the way she felt about the Wingman’s real name. It was no longer a name that brought back pain and all those times of disappointment. It was a name that made you almost laugh out loud at his lovable antics and sense of humor. In short, it was a great start in the Summer of Redesign. And even I had been won over by the Wingman and his overtures. Maybe sometimes all you really need in life is a second chance. If I was willing to give cities, and places, and people second chances, who is to say I wouldn’t have a second chance at whatever this was with the Stranger?..

Alicia and I parted ways as we came out of the PATH tunnel, and I headed back to my place. Ah, home swoot home. For now anyway. I dropped my bags in the kitchen, and poured myself a big glass of water. My hangover was still in full effect, not so much from drinking, but from the sense that my fun-filled weekend was over. Looking back though, I really had made some amazing memories with equally amazing people. And just because I wasn’t in Boston, and they weren’t here, didn’t mean that the good times had to end. “Fun” really is kinda like a hangover, you just have to have to keep drinking up those wonderful moments that life hands you so you don’t forget those times when they can’t be there. As they say, the best cure for a hangover is hair of the dog. Maybe life is no different.

In which case I say… I’ll drink to that.


RJ said...

Sometimes excessive alcohol can lead to a spiritual awakening. Many see what we really want after a painful night, only to lose the will to be strong enough to live the way we want 24/7/365.

I wish you luck. I get that you are authentic, something I never got from your "public" persona.

Jon said...

zomg I feel like that guy working at Kinko's in Jerry Maguire congratulating you for writing this. That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there. love ya.

StanTheMan said...

Jen, don't beat yourself up! The problem is that as a beautiful "on the town" woman, you are not meeting guys who "get" you. You're meeting good-looking guys who are successful with lots of women and are able to become "chameleons" so women think they "get" them... but they don't. It's an act, well honed by much practice and lots of success.

But when you get too close, your inner radar tells you that there's something wrong. You can't put your finger on it... the guy is too good at what he does and has been for so long. But when he moves in for the kill, your spider sense starts tingling. And when he realized he's not getting what he wants, he lashes out and you blame yourself.

But I suspect you're being wise. A lot wiser than you're giving yourself credit for.

And I'm glad you liked my city... come on back whenever you feel like it!

Veritas said...

Damn girl, how much did you drink?!
Hangovers are never easy but from what you describe you were really wasted, it’s true that having a few drinks always lightens the mood and with all the talk that dry taste in the mouth isn’t very good also, so we drink but preferably not until we reach the point were our memories of the night before are a blur.
And the worst part was that after that you and Alicia went and got your stomachs filled with food, and let me tell you from my personal experience, that is throwing a match to a barrel of gasoline, a really explosive combination.
And once again you found yourself in a situation were you didn’t knew what to do or how to react to that unpleasant situation.
My advice like in other times before, is that you can’t let things get unresolved or if you have things you want to settle with the PS you should do so, trust me, not giving a closure to this situations will only make them bite you in the @ss latter.
Believe me, what happened after that joyful night with PS isn’t really your fault, it just happened; you can be thinking “But why do things always end up in these bad situations? Why this feeling of lost and loneliness?” and the answer is very simple, you create to much expectations when things start going right and you let your feelings run free; and that is your mistake.
Now, how can you prevent further situations like this?!
That is a little trickier; the goal is to learn the more you can about the person in question but always without letting your guard down, let loose your feelings but always keeping a leach on them, because in the end nothing hurts more than getting your hopes up to see them be shoot down and broken.
I know! I know! It’s easier said that done but if you don’t at least try then I’m afraid you’re going to get hurt in the next times you try to start a relationship.
When I said it isn’t your fault I hope that it really sink in, in your head, because that is the most honest truth, what happened this time and the other times before has nothing to do with you being a celebrity or that guys are simply intimidated by you, I believe it has more to do with the fact that you want to find really bad someone special to be with you; is like you said more than once “I’m a simple, open minded, smart and funny girl” and the question that I believe hunts you sometimes is “They say that when we get into this celebrity business we always have to make sacrifices, but why has it to be my sentimental life?” and the truth is that although you are all of that and much more it has nothing to do with you being a celebrity but rather because of the easy way you let people in when things at the beginning seem to be going ok.
So, miss Jenn Sterger get your head up and move on with your life, always move forward, don’t waste time thinking why things went wrong but rather try to learn from your mistakes (if you made any of course) and move on; true love will come eventually, let it come to you don’t chase it or it will run away from you again.
Keep strong and don’t lose the faith especially in yourself.