Moving Forward & An Unexpected, New Favorite Memory

              It’s Tuesday morning and at 7:55, I finally found myself at my desk-- covered in layers of deodorant, Chanel Mademoiselle, and dry shampoo, as I haven’t showered since Saturday evening. A decent night’s sleep took precedence over my appearance today. This is how I cope with loss and heartache.

                A solitary person, I retreat further and further into my mind, caught in the cyclical questioning of my heart. There are still have questions that have no answers, and answers that lead to more questions. The most poignant one being, “Why does this always happen to me?” Melodramatic and unnecessary, yes, but that reasoning is not enough to silence its echo. Last year, I was broken up with by a man of the same name, in another almost-relationship, who also left me for a former lover. I cannot help but compare the two tales, and relive a piece of that heartache, as well.
I think whenever there is a break up or new relationship, we have a tendency to reflect back on previous lovers, at least that is where my heart leads me. My favorite memory in my life thus far has always been of my time in London and Paris in January of 2013. There is no word to describe that adventure other than magic. Prior to embarking on that trip, my best friend’s god-brother messaged me on Facebook. He was stationed in the UK in a branch of the US military, and I suppose my friend informed him I would be tagging along. We’d chat here and there, I enjoyed his virtual company. Even if he talked about getting me naked, that was more real than asking me, “What’s your major?” I bought it.
After a day at the National Gallery, Maddy* and I returned to our flat with bottles of wine and champagne in preparation for Jon’s* arrival that evening. We showered and did all of those time-taking things women do when they get ready for a night out. There they were, dress shirt, ties, and shoes shined. Jon brought two of his good friends with him, in hopes that Maddy would get along with one. They were also extremely drunk when they arrived. I didn’t think he was that attractive in his Facebook profile picture, but in person, my God. No wonder Maddy said he was an asshole.  With those looks, he could afford to be whoever he wanted. Two bottles of wine in, and we were off for a night I will never remember. Seriously, I don’t remember a lot of it.
I remember him dragging a Christmas tree he found on a curb through the streets of London. I remember one of his friends falling down a flight of stairs and breaking his ankle. I remember the moment he kissed me on the escalator before boarding the Tube. Click. I remember the eclectic vibes surrounding Camden Market. He thought I would like it because they had a store called Cyber Dog with sex toys and electronic dance music. He was right. I remember the vintage pictures I purchased for my apartment. I remember him buying me a beer. I don’t even like beer, but I drank it. Click. I remember making out with him in the Tube and I didn’t care if people thought I was some crazy American chick.  It was the click that made me do it.
I woke up in the morning next to him in my tiny little bed where he was not supposed to be. I was naked and going to be late for the bus to Stonehenge. I asked Jon what happened and he just pursed his lips together, so I kissed him. I stumbled to my suitcase and realized I should probably eat before I puked my way down the stairs. Maddy came in screaming. Apparently Jon and I had sex in our sleep. A lot. And apparently, everyone else knew about it. Apparently I lost my clothes halfway up those flights of stairs I dreaded. There were cameras in the hallway and the company who rented the flats to us called the trip supervisors. I sacrificed my best friend for a click and now the group thought I was a slut. But I didn’t care. Click. This London Emily, I liked her.
                I lived through that memory for a very long time. I never felt such a strong spark or connection. It was the closest thing I had experienced to love at first sight. It took me two years to write Jon, who was still an ocean away, and divulge my feelings from that night, the night I knew would change my life. The night that did change my life. Although the almost-relationship with Jon ended poorly, I was not wrong in my suspicion that he would impact my life. When he returned to the US last year, we both were genuinely curious as to whatever connection existed between us from that night. As much as I did not want to chalk my emotions up to foreign soil or drunkenness, I now believe they were largely responsible for the electricity I felt that night. The events which took place over the last 48 hours, however, translated that memory of spark, into energy veined through my heart.  
                Despite the emotional turmoil I encountered this weekend, I believe I replaced that night in London with a new favorite memory. I now know what it feels like to live through my heart, and what true, genuine love for another person feels like. And although I am hurt, I risked it all, and I admire myself for that.  Since my previous post, I have received an overwhelming sense of support and comments from friends and strangers. People who relate to my story, people who admire my bravery—wishing they could exude the same confidence, wanting to sit and chat, and then there are those from college. Some I know well, others I don’t. And I think the comments from those individuals have been the most meaningful to me. People who said they knew us in college and had been rooting for us for some time, despite our lack of involvement, despite a time when we rooted against one another, despite an "us" that did not exist. Two people that had never even officially been together made a collective impact on those around us.  No matter which direction we head, or if our paths cross again, I think those comments speak volumes to our connection as friends and lovers, perhaps even transcends it.  

As honest as I have been with those around me, I owe that same sense of honesty and vulnerability to myself. I have made the decision to, for the time being, cut out alcohol. I used alcohol to numb a lot of emotion last year, emotion which I am hesitant to admit that I am still weighted by. I am beginning to wonder if I may have a variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is why I am also reaching for some external assistance in navigating this wave. I am a strong woman, a stubborn woman, and I tend to carry a lot of weight on my own—I prefer to. I did a lot of self-healing over the past year, but there are still pieces of myself that have yet to be touched, and this break has cut some of those wounds open again. At some point, I will likely reintroduce my love of wine and margaritas back into my life, but now is not the time to fall down. I know the person I became, a person who relied heavily on drinks to move past the pain, a person who would blackout every time she drank, a person who I did not very much care for. I do not want to see myself lose my identity again, especially now, with as much success and future that I hold in my hands. While I was strong for myself before, I believe this is an even stronger decision for me to make.
*Names have been changed