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Edge of Twenty-Seven

He woke me at midnight. I bolted upright, the force of which nearly toppled the carefully arranged historic doors I’d erected as an art installation turned headboard.

“Travis?”

His voice was slurred a bit, but comprehensible. Perfect, he’s liquored up, which means everything he’s soon to divulge about how much I mean to him will undoubtedly be true. Grey Goose: the real litmus test of reality.

“Hey, yeah, it’s me.” Soft and heavy.

I loved that “it’s me”–so comfortable, so familiar: so something boyfriends say to one another. Warmth enrobed my body.

Well, part of it.

“So you know that game we were playing…the other day?” Ice clinked in the background.

I gasped. How could I have forgotten?

We’d just stopped for an ice cream break after walking around campus in our camouflage shorts and tight tees. Much to my delight, we’d spent most of the walk talking about “us,” how we’d make a good couple. I almost hadn’t needed ice cream to make the day better.

Almost.

After he’d asked about “my type” and me his, I was rewarded with the proverbial cherry on top: “You fit.” All I’d needed to make the sundae perfect was nuts.

“You there?”

“Oh, uh, yeah. You mean the ‘My Type’ game?”

“Exactly. And you asked me what my type was. You remember?”

“Of course I do.”

“Well…”

If I’d been on the rotary phone with the long manila cord my parents had had when I was growing up, I’d be twisting myself into a tangled mess.

“…your friend Andy…”

Or hanging myself with it.

“What?”

“You know, Andy. On Myspace.”

My mouth was dry, the darkness all-consuming. Ice clinked again.

“He’s my type for sure.”

Of course he is.

I felt physically ill–the anger bubbling up from my gut the strength of a thousand lava flows. Why Andy? Why my best friend? And then it clicked. But Travis wasn’t done; the vodka had lubricated his lips and the barbed testimonials to come.

“And you know the other night, when you couldn’t make it out to Michael’s with us?”

I just hummed.

“Well, that night I met this hot Latino gardener.”

I had to sit down.

“And I took him back to my place…”

I covered my eyes.

“…and fucked him.”

I hung up, threw the phone into the dark room, and fell into my bed dramatically, hitting my forehead on a doorknob in the process.

The next morning, my lump-headed self walked into Masterpieces of Spanish Art, the art history course we had together. Our friendship had begun a semester prior, across the quad in The History of Greece, then progressed over the months from a kiss to a few copped feels and plenty of bedroom eyes. But here it would end, as El Greco as our witness.

“Good morning,” he smiled thinly, disguising his forked tongue.

I glared at him. We never spoke again.

***

When I think of Travis, a number comes to mind. “Twenty-seven,” he’d said, “that’s when your brain is fully developed.”

Dubious as I was, I figured he was making shit up to offset the eventual burn from his deflections. And, to an extent, he was. At the ripe age of twenty-one, I’d mentally abused him, demanded what he knew about the world–a late twenty-something just now getting his bachelor’s degree.

Pah! I’d thought, he knows nothing.

But here I am, a whopping six years later, past the cusp of twenty-seven, nearing twenty-eight, and things are just now starting to make sense. They’re still a bit fuzzy, but focusing a bit with each day, each revelation I find in the random bits of conversation, experience, and life that compose my days.

So, I’ve acknowledged that, maybe, Travis was right. At least a little bit.

It’s in the trite clichés, the moments of teeth-clenching retrospection that I understand the value of perspective–how we change. And while I still don’t see the value of his picking-up-a-trick-and-fucking-him penchant, I’ve acknowledged that Travis might’ve been trying to do something good–teach me something.

That’s why I write: to figure myself out through each typed word, watch myself change through paragraphs, and, ultimately, become a different person than I’ve been–one who marvels at how consumed I’d been with a particular thought or person, and how, now, I couldn’t care less.

Self-deprecation has become a fragile truth to which I cling like a sponge, wringing it out every so often to see what parts of me stay trapped within its webbing, and which parts wash away. Life is spongy–it’s porous, and always changing. There’re some things about me that’ll stick and others that’ll stray, and there I’ll remain: forever changing.

And in a few years when I read back through this, I’ll probably roll my eyes, realize how misguided, how full of hubris, and how completely out-of-touch I am currently.

I hope so.

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