The Last Time

drunk girl

The last time I touched cocaine was January 31st. Had I have known it would be my last time, I probably would have done things differently. I would have picked up an eight ball instead of a half and stayed awake all weekend. I would have thrown some sort of epic going away party for the dirty little habit that had taken up much of my twenties.

I had quit before, but was easily seduced back into its familiar arms. Cocaine promised to take me somewhere better than where I was, to a version of reality where I was happier, where I could forget about the depression and anxiety that plagued me, the things that robbed me of my confidence and grace. I wasn’t as sad as I used to be, or at least I didn’t think I was, but I still had this shadow that followed me around. Cocaine was like sunshine in comparison, and so I always returned. But something felt different this time.

It wasn’t so much that I was sick of the drug. There’s a reason I liked it for so long, a reason I was late for so many parties, and then, once I got to those parties, why I was always one of the last ones to leave. There’s a reason I spent way too much money on it over the years, an amount I don’t particularly care to calculate. I was just sick of me being on drugs and I thought about this as I put on my shoes and headed to the party. But later, after a few bumps in the bathroom, I pushed the thought away and my night turned into a blur like all the others before it.

I woke up on February 1st and, as I began putting the pieces together from the night before, I realized I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. I replayed the night’s events over in my head thinking, was I the only girl high at the party? There used to be more of us. But over the years, people trickled off. Some quit. Some went to rehab. Some disappeared. It used to be that cocaine was everywhere—or at least it felt that way. Sometimes when I was trying to do less I would tell myself I’d only do it if someone offered it to me, knowing that it would indeed be offered to me a some point in the night. Life felt glamorous like that. I felt like a woman from a rock and roll memoir, a wild child. I felt like I had a secret that made me interesting, which is such a cokehead thing to believe, that doing coke makes you interesting. It doesn’t.

If it was a rock bottom, it was a quiet one. There were worse lows scattered across the half a decade I spent dancing that line between a bad habit and an addiction. There were nights that ended with intense fights, and others with minor interventions. There were nights I don’t remember, and scars I don’t have stories for. I have been high in the presence of people I should not have been high around in situations I should not have been high in. On occasion, I bought the drug instead of doing something more responsible like paying bills or buying food. Once or twice, I found a baggie in my purse at work and did just the tiniest little bit, to even out. One time I rubbed it on my teeth as my boyfriend sped down the highway. I just wanted to feel alive, you know? And coke made me feel alive.

Plus, aside from this, it didn’t really cause that many problems in my life. I held down a job and progressed in my career. The friends who did coke with me also had 9-5s. They were artists and teachers and engineers. We paid for our drugs with pay cheques earned the good old-fashioned way, at corporate jobs or through freelance gigs. We looked after each other. We had fun. We laughed a lot. We danced. No one got arrested. No one died. And no one seemed to mind that I was high all the time, so I didn’t really mind either.

In fact, I looked forward to it. When I first started doing cocaine I didn’t want it to become a problem, so I’d make myself wait until 10 p.m. on Friday night before I did my first line. I thought this little ritual proved that I had willpower and restraint. But after a while, I stopped waiting for 10 p.m. Then I stopped waiting for Fridays. After a little while longer, I had three dealers’ numbers saved in my top 10. I was hooked. I loved doing a quick line before I went out. I loved the way it felt riding the streetcar high through the city. I loved a quick bump before a quick fuck. I loved doing it while I was getting ready to go out somewhere, with the record player spinning as I put on some eyeliner, stopping to do bumps between drinks. It was one of my favourite routines, the act of getting ready. The act in itself.

I didn’t realize it had become such a crutch, filling a void alcohol didn’t fill anymore. I was used to coke, and I felt more like myself when I was on coke, or at least more of the self I wanted to be. I felt confident, sexy and smart. It made me social and outgoing. I thought it made me fun! This is exactly how I used to feel about alcohol. Except I didn’t realize that it had taken the place of alcohol, because the alcohol never stopped either.

I’ve been playing the part of the party girl, though perfectly cast, for far too long. Coke was helping me to maintain an image I’m not so sure I want to maintain anymore. When I came to that February morning, I knew it was time to stop hiding under a veil of powdered confidence and liquid courage. It was time to say good-bye.

In like a lion, out like a lamb. That’s how this felt to me. And maybe this means my story is a happy one and that I got out before things got too bad. Still, it’s been harder than I expected. I crave it almost every weekend, talk about it too much, and find myself yearning for it, especially after a few drinks. I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to delete the numbers in my phone, though I have stopped responding to text messages from business-savvy dealers. I’m aware that temptation is a dangerous mistress. While I have no intention of indulging, there is comfort in knowing she’s just 10 digits away. Like the ex-smoker with a pack of cigarettes on the top shelf of the pantry, I keep it just out of reach. Just for now. Just in case.

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In Hotel Rooms, We Can Be Anyone

Sipping vodka through a straw at the bar in the hotel, I awaited my man’s arrival. We were celebrating our anniversary and although we lived in Toronto, felt like getting a room in the city would serve as a sexy, temporary escape from our everyday lives. It was raining lightly outside. I felt nostalgic as I reflected upon our relationship while sitting in the bar, staring out the hotel windows, but I also felt exceptionally present as I fantasized about the night that awaited us. I wanted to play the part of the sexy, mysterious girl tonight so I went to the hotel just a little bit early, early enough for him to find me slightly tipsy off top shelf vodka. I had packed a corset and a half of cocaine, just in case the night got wild.

He met me at the hotel bar, threw the bartender some money and a generous tip, then escorted me up to our room, roses in tow. I felt a bit like a call girl, high class of course, except for the flowers, which reminded me I am indeed a well-loved woman. The room was gorgeous; its contemporary design reminded me of our living room—the way the reds, browns and blacks wove together. But it was not enough of a reminder to make it feel like home. I was very coherent of the fact that we were somewhere else, and that was exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be displaced, seduced, and fucked. I wanted him to devour me, and I him. Anniversaries are a time for lovemaking, for romance, but I wanted a little bit of lust thrown in. I wanted him to want me. I wanted him to take me.

I feel like this sometimes and I let it come out in hotel rooms. Hotel rooms are where I can play the part of the whore and the devout girlfriend all in the same act; with an audience of one I can be anyone.

It did not take long for the desire for hotel sex to set in. There’s something about being in a hotel room that makes everything feel a little bit elevated, as though nothing is real. I excuse myself to slip into something else. There’s something, too, about the act of changing in a room full of mirrors that makes you aware of your body in ways you’re not always coherent of. The curves of your hips, the way your breasts sit. You pause for a moment to wonder if they’ve always looked like that, but the thought passes quickly. You take things off quickly, too, but put them on slowly. You want everything to sit just right, to hit your body at the right parts. You adjust the knee-high stockings so they’re at the same level. You know he’s in the other room, waiting. You wonder, is he clothed? Naked? Does he have something special planned? Has he topped up the wine like you want him to? You lace the corset tight into place; adjust your breasts. You remember the cocaine. You remember the romance. You make yourself forget the cocaine, for now. You fix your makeup. Make your eyes a little blacker, your lips a little redder. You turn your head upside down to give your hair some volume. You step into your black pumps, your Steve Maddens. You do one last look. You open the door.

No, you slide the door. When you’re a woman of mystery and desire you slide the door so that the noise piques his interest but he doesn’t see you right away. When you step out you want it to be so hot that you feel him get hard. This is the woman you are being right now, and she is confident and seductive. She is an alternative version of you, but she is still you. You take note of that. That this is you.

On a Tuesday night in a hotel room in downtown Toronto you transform. It is your favourite part about hotels. The music playing is the playlist you made together with this night in mind because without saying it you both know how hotel nights go, and so at first when you’re settling in it’s kind of sweet and sentimental, but by the time the first bottle of Bordeaux is gone, it’s dirtier, grittier, hotter.

The song that comes on as you slide open the door is perfect and sludgy with the kind of back beat that makes it easy to sway your hips. It makes the charade almost effortless, when the soundtrack is so good anything is possible. You walk slowly to the bed, as you move your body and mouth the words, as you prepare for what’s to come. You push him down before you kiss him, because even though he already wants it, you want him to want it more. That is the woman you are being tonight. She’s a little meaner, a little feistier than usual. She gets what she wants. He lets you have him, lets you work your mouth to where he wants it, and then he turns you over and takes your clothes off one by one. He does it slowly. He makes you want it, too.

You fuck. I fuck. I let the woman I wish I always was rise from somewhere inside of me and I take on this character for the night. By now I’m also a little drunk. If I smoked cigarettes I’d have had five by now, but I don’t smoke cigarettes so I drink and do occasional lines when I’ve got the money instead. I remember the cocaine and we’re both exhausted and drunk enough that he can’t even get mad at me for bringing it, the offer is too tempting. I pour a pile on the bedside table, its mahogany finish in stark contrast to the white of the drug. I take a 50 dollar bill, one of the new ones, and place it on top, sliding the hotel room keycard over it until it turns into a fine powder. Doesn’t it look pretty? Almost like snow, like the seasons are changing. I use the key to cut four lines. He lets me go first. They’re pretty even, but still I take the one that looks the biggest. It’s an illusion, but everything is right now.

When the coke is gone and the wine is gone we get dressed and head upstairs to the rooftop lounge overlooking the entire city. You can see the water and the CN Tower and the skyscrapers, those already built and in development. You can see the city changing. There’s a slight chill in the air and he pulls me in close as we point to the area where we live. You can almost see our house from here, if you pretend hard enough. The night slows down. I melt into the moment and lose a layer of my mystery in the process. But I know it’s okay. The act may be ending, but it’s not over yet. After a few drinks, we go downstairs to go to bed, kissing as we fall asleep. Tomorrow we’ll wake up as us again, but for now we’ll enjoy the fantasy.


Photo by Elle Hanley, part of the hotel series. To view more of her work, click here

A Decade Under the Influence

sad girl sitting

The sky had barely broken on the New Year when I found myself crumpled into a ball crying in your lap. I didn’t want to seek solace in you about this, a topic I deem too personal to even discuss with you, the one I love, but the truth is I am struggling and I feel myself becoming one with the edge. I am no longer sure where to turn.

I don’t remember when it started. I imagine it happened normally and maybe even casually, the way it does sometimes when these things sneak up on you. I don’t know what compelled me to first stick my finger down my throat and force myself to throw up everything until I spit blood. But I did, and after that, I felt, relief. Relief is not the best word for the elimination of self-inflicted ghosts, but it is my word and it is the word that would frame my existence for many years to come.

I had never been thin and for me this was all entirely about becoming thin. At 16, all I wanted was to be thin like the other girls. I became obsessed. I went to the gym, for hours, every day after school. It became a joke around my friends and even my family that I would eat only a granola bar and that would be it for the day. I was busy. Being busy made missing meals passable and even easy. The truth was I didn’t even want the granola bar, but without it I struggled to get out of bed. It was hard to focus and the shaking was noticeable. And somewhere along the way, when I did eat it, I started throwing it up. I wasn’t bulimic. Bulimia is when you intentionally binge then purge in a retroactive form of damage control. I just didn’t want food inside me. Eventually, I decided not to eat the granola bars anymore. At the end of the school year, I found dozens smooshed at the bottom of my bag.

I accepted a job at a fast food burger chain. It was my first actual job that didn’t consist of babysitting neighbourhood kids. I actually like the job too. The people I worked with were fun and I went to school with most of them, which made work enjoyable and social for me. On breaks, as an employee, you would get discounted food while you worked. Many of my peers took advantage of this, a couple of them got jobs there solely because of this, but I ignored it. I worked in a sea of greasy french fries and endless ice cream for almost a year and I never ate there even once. In the meantime, I had started to develop some bad habits. If I was at a party and people ordered pizza, I would spend five minutes blotting the grease off with a napkin before deciding to abandon the pizza altogether. I was getting worse, but my bones weren’t sticking out so, for a long time, no one said a word.

The first intervention came one night when I could no longer remember the last time I had eaten. My parents sat me down and told me I could have anything I wanted and that they would make it for me. Anything. I had lost a lot of weight by this point and my life had changed drastically. I was much more social. Boys were paying attention to me. I was even making out with them. I had discovered alcohol and parties. I decided to choose something random and obscure thinking it would deter their efforts. I remember what I requested: a chicken Caesar salad from Swiss Chalet. They went out and got it for me and I sat there waiting for them to return and I didn’t even move. When they came back they sat at the table to make sure I ate it. I cried the entire time, choking on every bite. I think they cried too.

But after that, it was as though in my mind I was magically recovered. I toned back the restriction, started eating dinner, and assumed things were better, all while failing to notice the signs were still there. When I moved away to university to live in residence, my first time living on my own, I was not concerned at the end of the year when it was discovered I had much more than 50 per cent of my meal plan remaining. Most students added more money to their plan part way through the year. I wasn’t throwing up much anymore so I thought I was fine, but I still also wasn’t really eating. My meal plan was nonrefundable. I started paying for people’s snacks and meals regularly. By the end of the year, I was buying people Fruitopia by the case.

The years after this are blurry and while I never thought of myself as sick, it is easy to see in retrospect that fractured existence of what clearly was—maybe still is—an eating disorder.  My weight continued to be a problem, going up and down like a rollercoaster, taking how I defined my worth and happiness along for the ride. In third year I decided to join an actual weight loss program. This was my first introduction into what would later become an obsession with calorie counting. Within months I was a mess. If I knew I’d be going out drinking that night, I would simply not eat all day long in an effort to never, ever go over my points. Points became the bane of my existence. If you worked out, you got more points, which for me actually meant more alcohol. I started working with a personal trainer at 7 am every morning. It was an impossible time for me, but I did it. One day he was guiding me through an exercise at a machine and the next thing I knew I was sitting in his office being forced to eat an applesauce. What happened? I asked him. To this day I do not remember passing out, I do not remember being taken to his office, I do not remember my first bite of that applesauce.

The program fucked with my head and instilled in me a new weapon in my war on food: guilt. Suddenly there were good foods and there were bad foods. There were foods that would make me fat and foods that would make me thin. There were foods that were approved of and foods that caused shame. When I quit counting points it was because I couldn’t live like that anymore, defining my success and basing my happiness on which silo my foods fell into that day. I had also, in the process, fallen in love and moved to the city. I was a new woman and I was determined to get in control.

Control. Where did that word come from? Control is a word people like to use when describing those with disordered eating habits because it is argued that we use food as a form of control to find order or balance in our lives and maybe even also to provide a scale of which to monitor and maintain power. Restriction and throwing up were never about control to me on the inside, but I can now see they were always about control on the outside. When I ate too much, or more accurately felt like I ate too much, throwing up was an easy way to undo perceived damage.

Things have, in recent months, become entirely about control. On my latest foray into weight loss I decided to try things differently. I didn’t want the blemished skin, the shaking hands, the guilt and the downward spiral I had had so many times before. I wanted results. So 10 months ago I joined the same program that caused me such disarray the first time, quit again shortly after for the same reasons I quit the first (and second) time, struggled with issues of throwing up for several months, then finally found the right balance between eating right and exercising. It was a magical feeling to see that number going down without making myself sick, without depriving myself. I felt truly accomplished and radiant and people noticed. They even said I looked skinny. Me, skinny! It was the best feeling I could have ever imagined.

Unfortunately this is where the problems have started again and in fact I am only writing this to prevent myself from relapsing. The number stopped going down. I stopped losing weight. When I stopped losing weight, I got scared and I have been scared for more than a month now. Suddenly I feel out of control and when I feel out of control I make bad food decisions. For months I wasn’t actually eating enough, and now I am scared I am eating too much. It is haunting me, a dark shadow that follows me around. I am getting feelings I’ve never had before. I am thinking to myself, this is pointless, this isn’t working, I’m not trying hard enough. I make plans and go to the gym for hours, then don’t go for days. My routine is so fucked and my head is so fucked I feel the storm coming.

It’s definitely coming back. But not in the ways I told you about, it’s coming back like it was like it did a couple summers ago—the most brutal summer in the history of my disordered eating. That summer was so bad that by the end of it I actually started looking into getting help. I saw doctors. I saw therapists. I was scared to be awake. I was scared to go out. I hated food and I hated life and I hated myself. My depression was rampant and I was throwing up all the time and my throwing up knew no boundaries: public washrooms, restaurants, bars, clubs, concerts, family functions, anywhere it could happen and everywhere it did. My face was puffy and broken out. I was losing control and the eating disorder was instead taking control of me. I’m not even sure anymore if I was losing weight, but these things can be mean like that. I was able to turn things around then with a lot of determination, therapy, reading self-help books and memoirs, and especially with the help of my boyfriend, who has helped me get through this countless times now. I have learned it is nearly, maybe entirely, impossible to get through these things on your own.

But I’m scared this time. I am terrified of what is happening to me after months of being healthier than I have ever been. I am worried it’s too late to undue the damage of all the calories I’ve tracked religiously in the little app I am always updating. I am worried about what happens next because I’ve already read this story. This is the part when things start to spiral out of control at a time when you really need that control. So you start eating less and start being more restrictive, purging whatever food you deem “bad,” prancing down the road you’ve travelled down so many times before, a deer in the headlights, never learning its lesson. Turning the pages anyway.

What people don’t get about depression

girlwithbirds

When I’m really depressed, I write long-winded notes on loose sheets of paper about what life was like when I was alive. What people don’t get about depression is that that’s the only way to describe it. Though I’m here theoretically, at least in body, I’m not really here. I don’t know where I am. Depression takes you to dark places and doesn’t let you escape scratch free.

What people don’t get about depression is it is not about being sad. It is the process of losing yourself entirely, of looking into the mirror and seeing a stranger in your clothes. Why is she so tired? Who is she anyway? Picture the saddest day of your life then multiply it by a million then have no reason to really explain it. What people don’t get about depression is it creeps up on you. It rears its ugly head in many ways and many forms and at any time. People with depression know depression is a snake. A boa constrictor. It strangles you and takes your life away just enough so you keep breathing.

When I was alive I used to write things that weren’t about depression. I used to laugh a lot. When I was alive my hair was shiny and my skin was clear and I was 21 and nothing could stop me because I was young and fearless. But then suddenly I wasn’t. Suddenly, or so it seemed, I was somewhere else entirely, a parallel universe, floating above myself, and I would reach my hands out so far but I would feel nothing.

And when the meds didn’t work and therapy didn’t work and I didn’t work, I filled time with my own medicine and sometimes didn’t write at all. Sometimes I had no words. Sometimes I had nothing. Sometimes I slept for days. Sometimes I didn’t sleep for days. Sometimes I didn’t know what day it was.

What people don’t get about depression is it is not pretend. Depression doesn’t forgive me for the things I’ve done, the people I’ve let down, the friends I’ve lost or the mistakes I’ve made because of it. The consequences are very real. Depression doesn’t care that I have goals and dreams. Depression doesn’t listen when I try to lock it behind doors and ignore it. It picks the locks so easily, like a criminal. As if the bolts are invisible. Depression doesn’t even blink when I scream.

What people don’t get about depression is it doesn’t go away, at least not without a fight. I remember the first night it hit me, like really hit me, like oh, this isn’t disappearing is it? It was New Years Eve several years ago now, the day before everything starts over. The last big hoorah. And I chose to go home alone after an unsatisfying restaurant shift when all my friends were off into the night making out and making mistakes. And I knew right then things had to change. And I thought they would. But they didn’t.

On the questionnaire they ask you if you ever think about killing yourself. What people don’t get about depression is even if you’re not suicidal you often think about dying because sometimes you already feel dead. Except if you were dead, you wouldn’t feel like this, and sometimes yes, that does seem more appealing.

On the questionnaire they ask you if you ever have difficulty making decisions. So you sit there and debate and go to say one thing but then change it to another before realizing, oh, yeah I guess this is an obvious one. What people don’t get about depression is sometimes the easiest things are the hardest. Sometimes no, I really can’t get dressed or make food or go to work today. I just can’t.

They call it a screening test and they ask you 18 questions and rate you on a scale. The higher the number, the worse you are. I was clinical the first time I wrote it. And the second. And many more times after that. But what people don’t get about depression is eventually things start to change. Eventually you find the right combo. Eventually you find something that works. Because if you don’t you might as well be dead, for a life with depression is no life at all.

What people don’t get about depression is this can take a really long time. Depression is a horrible, evil condition that goes into remission, like a cancer, which is maybe how I’d describe it anyway. It robs you of your soul and wellbeing. It takes you away piece by piece. What people don’t get about depression is we hate it more than you do and we know it hurts you and we hate this too. All we want is to put those pieces back together, and, after a while, we begin to.

When I’m less depressed, I write about being alive and I write this on anything and everything. What people don’t get about depression is how beautiful these moments are, even when temporary. We are soldiers in a constant battle of losing ourselves and discovering ourselves. We are progress lost and found.

What people don’t get about depression is sometimes you emerge from those dark places, scratches in tow and you feel so alive, but you no longer remember how to actually be alive. Even so, finally, the New Year begins.

How to Love Me

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Love me without judgment, for I am only human and I am prone to make mistakes. Love me fearlessly and endlessly, while knowing that I love you and that it is you I think about, dream about, can’t live without.

Love me like I’m the only girl on earth. Love me without reason or refrain. Know that loving me is complicated and I know that too. Know that I will do everything I can to love you back, to make you feel as loved as you make me feel.

Love me even when I screw it all up, when I miss the mark, cross the line. When I drink too much and think too much. Love me when my meds run out and I am a ball of sadness on the floor. Hold me and run your fingers through my hair. Tell me that you love me once, twice, again, and again.

Take me out for wine at a crowded bar on Dundas because you know I like it. Make me homemade dinners on occasion with my favourite ingredients and I won’t mind if you make it spicier or saucier because I know you like.

Take me home when it gets heated between us on the rooftop patio because you know I need it. Hold me and caress me. Be gentle and sweet. Make love to me. Fuck me. But only when I beg you to. I beg you to. Fuck me. Fuck me please.

Kiss me like you mean it, like you really mean. Kiss me like you kissed me on the night that we first met. Kiss me like you kissed me the first time we made love. Kiss me like I’m the last girl on earth. Kiss me like you breathe passion instead of air.

Love me like this because you know I love you and you love me. Because you are the person I want to be with forever and ever, because it is you I crave and you who saves me, but it is also you who sets me free. Love me like this because we are young and we have today and right now and nothing else matters. Love me like you’ve always loved me. Love me like you’ll always love me. Love me like you’ll never leave me.

Love me like I never woke up bruised on the bathroom floor the time I drank too much and fell down the stairs and made us leave the birthday party early. Love me like I never threw up all the homemade food you made me because I’m still not better even though you want me to be, so badly. Love me like I never hurt you, like I never said all those things I didn’t mean, because I didn’t mean them and I love you and only you.

Love me like you did the summer we spent aimlessly walking the streets as if the city was ours. Love me like you did the time you surprised me and took me to a romantic hotel in rural Quebec and kissed me amid the candlelight, when the power went out and we were reserved to darkness. Love me like you did that night when we took off all our clothes and discovered new things about each other. New places to love. New ways to love.

Love me without judgment, for I am only human and I am prone to make mistakes. Love me fearlessly and endlessly, while knowing that I love you and that it is you I think about, dream about, can’t live without.

Love me always.

Alice Morrow is a writer, sometimes. She mostly just takes pictures and wastes time in Toronto.

The First Time’s Always Free

cocainegirl

Of course I wanted her. I knew it before she was lying across the table, pale white and thin. I knew it before I got there, she was the reason I was there after all, veiled loosely under an excuse for a party, hidden behind the music. I had heard her name a lot recently and she crept into my thoughts so intently it was as though she lived there briefly, floated away sometimes with wings like a moth, leaving a trail of powder behind.

The first time I saw her was in his eyes. He sparkled with a glow, an infectious energy, as he talked in circles about her and the way she tasted, so harsh yet sweet. I felt water form in my mouth. She normally held different company, but we found her often in dark bars that year and before long she knew all our friends. She knew where to find them on Fridays, then Saturdays, then Tuesdays, then whenever. She’d call when you were tired in bed, trying to read magazines and fall asleep, but she always offered something greater and she was so enticing, like black lace and bad decisions always are, that it would take hardly an argument before you were lacing up high heeled boots and going to meet her wherever she may.

That particular night, she kept me waiting.

That particular night, something inside me told me not to go, but I didn’t listen. My conscience, maybe, said, “She’ll change you, you know?” and I knew but I didn’t listen. I was 23 and drunk off Jack Daniels. I wanted her so badly. I had heard what they said about her, nothing good, but I needed her. I was sad. I wanted company. I wanted danger. I wanted a new secret. My old ones had become someone else’s.

I had become someone else, though I’m not sure who entirely. That night, I wasn’t wearing much at all and it was sometime in the winter though if it was December or February I can’t be sure. I remember though, because I forgot my mittens there. Ones my grandmother had knitted me when I was 10 years younger. They were so warm and fuzzy and comfortable, the way things always are before they change.

When she arrived, I was warm inside. I was wet inside. I was anticipating her so much I was almost too eager. I was almost turned on. I had romanticized her for so long I expected love right away and when I found it, I knew it wasn’t the right kind of love but I let myself fall for her anyway.

There’s a certain kind of person she attracts and I was her, the lost young girl, the one who wanted excitement and didn’t think she had anything to lose

My friend rolled up the 50 between his fingers and was telling some story about something, I kept thinking he would pass it to me but then he’d throw his hands up with expression and I would jump. I watched him re-roll it tighter, he lowered his head and I watched him take her in. I studied his movements, his motions, his reactions. Then, finally, he passed it to me.

I paused to examine her for a second as he pushed the CD towards me. All noise and conversation fell to the background. Would she be like I imagined? Perfect and pretty. I had expensive tastes, but the first one’s always free.

I bent over and I inhaled. I felt her go through my head, through my thoughts. I closed my eyes and felt the rush of warmth run through me, down the back of my throat, I felt the chill and the thrill and I hated her immediately. She was even better than I imagined. I knew I should have listened to that voice, but it was too late now. I was in love. Isn’t this what I wanted? Some new kind of salvation?

I could have stopped there, should have stopped there, but I didn’t. There’s a certain kind of person she attracts and I was her, the lost young girl, the one who wanted excitement and didn’t think she had anything to lose. The kind of girl who needs secrets like they’re currency. I fell so hard for her I saw her all the time. I saw her on weekends and weekdays and everyday, then slowly I saw more of her than I saw my actual friends. I saw more of her than I saw anything. My friends would invite me places but I would show up late because I would be waiting for her, so they stopped inviting me. Some nights it was only the two of us. I discovered a loneliness I didn’t know possible. A loneliness so great, I knew I had to leave her.

I didn’t want to. I loved the way she made me feel, it was a way nothing or no one else could. Like I could be anywhere or I could be anyone. After so long, I only felt like myself with her. I was so tired by the time I had to leave her, I couldn’t remember what I was like or who I was before we met. At 25, was I the same girl I was that cold winter night when I grabbed my jacket and my money and headed to a party practically bringing a signed goodbye card along for the ride? I suppose it didn’t matter now. Now it was time for me to write her a goodbye note, for me to say goodbye.

Like all good lovers, it wasn’t easy and sometimes I still miss her. It used to be I’d go places where I knew she’d be, but now I don’t go to those places anymore. Will I get over her the way lovers do? The way time lets loves fade away, become distant memories, where you only remember the good parts? Will she ever let me be? She filled a void, but left a scar.

I know I don’t want her but I can still taste her sometimes.

Alice Morrow is a writer, sometimes. She mostly just takes pictures and wastes time in Toronto.