Nostalgia, Guilt and Alcohol

making amends

Allow me to paint the picture: I am four shots of vodka into an October night, on the stage in Zete’s fraternity house, seemingly soaring through the evening, when suddenly, the incessant desire to text everyone I have ever loved sets in. I know very clearly that the boy from last year hates me, but I figure maybe despite our argument last week, I can convince him otherwise. Somewhere in my mind, I know every horror story of drunk texting gone wrong; yet, in that moment, nothing could feel more right than sending a harmless message. Of course I know he doesn’t want to hear from me, but right now, that reality eludes me. Hours later, I am left wondering why the hell I thought it would be a good idea. The answer, I believe, lies in two concepts: nostalgia and guilt.

In my five years as a poet, nostalgia is the most recurring theme I write about. My intense inclination toward missing people has been woven into my writing, and every relationship I have ever had becomes painted in a positive light by my flowery words—no matter how dark the truth may have been. When checking someone’s Facebook, scrolling through Twitter, or rereading someone’s old messages no longer satisfies my nostalgic need, I turn to poetry. That is, until I get drunk.

Everything about the past seems even more beautiful in drunken hindsight. There were good times, surely. Songs that were ours, television shows we watched, little inside jokes. Life was riddled with joy, and I thought there must be a way to reignite even some of that light. I can tell him our favorite composer tweeted something funny, or I can text her about how proud I am that she is living her dream. There are good things we can still share, my intoxicated state believes.

Something about my clouded judgement heightens the idea that maybe, just maybe, the people from my past actually want to hear from me. And even if they don’t, I sure as hell have things to say, so I ought to say them in the veil of being transparent.

The reality that my drunken state has yet to realize is that due to the countless faults of my younger self, I am the villain in most narratives of my past. This is where the guilt sets in. I have created levels of hurt that still exist in people even though I cannot feel them any longer. I know that I have shattered people in my misguided tracks, never quite realizing that I was capable of so much damage. Now I live with constant unease knowing that I may be able to make amends, but I’m too afraid to even text them.

Leaving things on a wrong note never feels right to me—sober or drunk. When things are broken, I fix them. If I know someone in the world exists who thinks poorly of me, my mind stays fixated on that for days. I like to live with the least resistance possible, patching up holes whenever I come across or create them. In my mind, forgiveness is attainable and attractive in every situation. I have yet to learn that this is not the case for everyone. When life gets messy, not everyone prefers closure. In my case, people do not want to allow an antagonist back in, no matter how much I have changed. If I break and I hurt and I destroy, people are not so quick to gravitate towards rectification, and I am still attempting to wrap my brain around this.

I spent my formative high school years blessed with forgiveness from every facet of my life. I spent these years battling mental illness, hurting everyone who entered my orbit. When I embodied manipulation, my friends were empathy. When I was selfishness, my friends were compassion. Being mentally ill was never a hollow excuse, but the people who I hurt were the ones who loved and helped me through those years. Forgiveness was the best option for our strong—albeit messy—friendships. But beyond those years of poor judgement, there is no obligation of forgiveness.

And now, years later, I am a Friday-night machine gun of apologies toward people who want nothing to do with me.

I am four shots of vodka into the night, and the party music seems to have been replaced with a hyper-nostalgic version of Sufjan Stevens’s “To Be Alone with You” in my mind. My entire history plays out in front of me. He and I ended messily this summer. She and I have not talked in nearly two years, and we are no longer friends on Facebook. The boy I destroyed years ago is back in my life. The new boy disappeared from my life because I caused too much pain. I have left behind jagged pieces, and in a drunken haze, I believe I can fix all of them.