Somebody has to get away from the Jersey coast and right quick before somebody ends up in a poorly lit rehab with a bunch of old fishermen and ex-Wendy's employees.
I'm caged in this old house. Caged, I tell you.
You're 41, an attractive single female, living at the Jersey shore in winter. You were born here, so it's like returning to a tub of dirty bathwater - lukewarm, comfortable but essentially gross.
You decide to go out because you never do anymore. You stay at home and watch more Law and Order than possibly healthy. You drag your sorry ass out of bed, run a brush through your hair and put on some lipstick, which has to be around here...somewhere.
You go to a local dive bar for Happy Hour, which bleeds into Happy Hours. You strike up a conversation with someone who possesses a demonic feel, though you're not quite sure why. Perhaps it's his beady eyes, his hot breath or the way he keeps saying "I think I'm the devil." You decide to part ways with this diabolical drunk before he drags you to the fiery pits of hell.
But the night is not done for you, is it? You go to your friend's little brother's apartment, where a party is in full swing. Little brother is 20 as are most of his friends. It's good for a laugh and gives you a chance to gaze at the virile bodies flitting about, testosterone coursing from their sinewy veins.
Beer pong becomes part of the equation for "fun" this evening. Do I have to remind you that you are 41-years old and playing beer pong with beer that you had to buy because you're one of the few people here over 21? Oh, the unflinching beauty of it all.
(If there's a cop reading this, this is a fictionalized story told in the second person. You can't prove anything.)
You excel at beer pong and wonder why. Maybe you're just on your game tonight, baby. Your opponent keeps lifting his shirt, attempting to distract you with his ridiculous abs, as if he knows why you're really there. This only improves your game. In between winning shots, you make out with him. Go home, heathen girl!
Someone invites you to take a hit from "The Gravitator" which is an oversized pot-smoking device designed to generate the biggest hit of weed you may ever inhale in your life, leaving you coughing spasmodically.
At first, you appreciate the newfound high, until you realize that this buzz is developing a life of its own. The floor starts to slant and realign itself, repeatedly. You ask it to stop...loudly. It doesn't respond.
The little boys and girls begin to look at you queerly. You tell them to stop glowing or you're going to leave. They laugh nervously. You sit down because, well...you have to. A pretty girl comes up to you and asks you if you need something. Water, water.
You're in trouble now, aren't you? You can't drive home. It's midnight and there is no one here to tend to you, since they are in their own special, ego-centered, 20-something land. Praying seems like the best option.
Please, God, I'm so sorry. Please just let me go home.
God laughs and shakes the walls. You cup your ears and say "Shhhh!!! Shhhh!!!" The boys and girls look over at you again, in disbelief that in any way, shape or form, you are their elder.
You make a staggered dash for a bedroom down the hallway and lie down on an unmade bed. You feel queezy.
Please don't let me get sick here. That bathroom hasn't been cleaned in months. I'll take better care of myself! I don't know why I did this to myself. I'm bored, sexually frustrated. I'll be a good girl!
Your heart pounds hard, breathing becomes shallow. You hear the boys and girls in the other room. If you didn't know better, they sound like they're chanting! You fear you may be sacrificed, so it's best not fall asleep. Hours pass as demons play gleefully around your head.
At 2 am, the poor kid whose bed your sleeping in opens up the door, wrapped in a blanket, ready to sleep. He doesn't know what to do with you and stands in the doorway awkwardly. Get out, devil. He leaves quietly.
Your mind flipflops from the poster of Bob Marley (who is staring at you menacingly) to a recent conversation with a friend who has noticed this strange phase of yours.
He thinks you're trying to recapture your past. You tell him, no, I never had my past. Time went backwards on me, breach. A childhood saddled with adult responsibility, 20's mired in disconnectedness and insecurity, 30's saddled with dysfunctional, one-sided relationships. For once in my life, this is my time, even with all its glaring imperfections.
Trying to recapture your past? You're trying to capture your present, for once.
It's 4 am. You pry yourself from bed, grab your coat and tell Bob Marley goodbye (who seems to be in better spirits). You walk into the living room, wake the kid on the couch and tell him he can have his bed back. The remaining 20-somethings sit at a bottle-strewn table, staring at you, silently. You begin laughing at their nervous gaze. You laugh until you feel like you might get sick...so you stop laughing.
You could feel embarrassed but you don't. You simply look up at the smoke-covered ceiling and give a quick thanks for the beautiful and bizarre hybrid that you're becoming, that maybe only you can appreciate. And that's alright, isn't it? If only you can appreciate her? I think it's alright.
You look at the kids before walking out into cold.
This is what freedom looks like, boys and girls. It's not always pretty.