the error of my ways

I'm worried a lot lately. More than usual, anyway. I feel like there are a lot of mistakes I've made. Well, I know there are. I say it all the time, even: "We all make mistakes." "It happens to the best of us." I make it into platitudes and jokes, and people laugh politely, I think because they don't know that I'm only half joking. They think it's just some sort of game.

There was a girl, once, who really laughed at them. Can I say girl? They tell me that it's not a very progressive word, that it's demeaning. I don't know anything about that. I just know that I like the sound of it better. "Women" sounds like a word for the type of person who tells you that "girls" is a term which is derogatory. I don't want to hang out with women.

I was talking about laughing at my jokes, though. I really appreciated it. I couldn't say that, though, because how do you say that without sounding like you're just desperate to sound funny? I'm not. But you only find that sort of thing funny if you really understand that when I tell you, "I'm pretentious," it's not just a thing I say so you will like me. I really think that.

The other night I turned down an invitation to go to a party. I stayed in with a poet with punk rock aesthetics. We watched our favorite sitcoms from the 90's on Hulu, and drank coffee liqueur and smoked Parliaments. We listened to Weezer. We talked about kittens. We told stories that were mostly honest, or at least embarrassing.

At midnight I wondered aloud if I should try to catch public transit back home. She gave me a smile that would have been coy if she were still sober and suggested that she had room for me at her apartment. I kissed her, and then I realized that it was the first time in longer than I could remember that I'd done so because I wanted to, not just because I felt like it was expected. Like the girl who laughed at my jokes, I didn't know how to tell her this. I'm trying to be genuine. Sometimes I'm not so good at it.

Later, when my hands found the clasp of her bra and deftly unhooked it, I told her how we'd all practiced that with a padded bra that we found as a prop in an old theatre's dressing room in high school, just idiot kids hoping for an opportunity to look suave in the future. She laughed. I am good at making some people laugh.

Even though it's fall now the sun still came through her window too early and just made the headache worse, and I can't sleep with her there, but I can't just leave and I can't just leave a note, and I worry that I've already fucked everything up. Maybe I wasn't genuine enough, or I told her too much. Maybe I worry too much. Maybe I'm just worried that I obsess too much and I will act too uncaring. I don't know. I'm worried.

I just want everything to be okay. I know there's only so many opportunities you get and I don't know when the last one is going to be. You have to get it right. You have to plan ahead. You have to assume that every chance you get will be your last.

The next day when I finally went home I was really tired and went to bed early. I slept right through her phone call and her text messages. Today I called her while I was eating lunch and she didn't pick up. My coffee and cigarettes taste like her.

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