Bourbon Nights

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I plopped myself down on the three-seater couch and didn’t even take a breath before diving straight in, “I don’t know how I feel about it anymore. This is a first.” 

The toe of my cognac boot smoothed out the rug in front of me. The boots reminded me of the color of the bourbon I had last week. It’d gone down smoothly as I’d alternated between smiling at my company and catching my reflection in the window of the classy top floor hotel bar. 

Belonging felt nice. To belong as I was felt even nicer. 

That night, I was wearing a black top that dipped, the lace of my brallette peaked, and the low lights made the gold necklace around my neck glisten just a bit. I’d come a long way. The glass the bourbon was poured into had been heated on a piece of the Kentucky barrel the drink had originated from. It was warm to the lips and the kick it gave your tastebuds reminded you that it was sweet, but powerful. I felt defined. 

I’m in an interesting place in my life where for as much as I don’t know how I feel about certain aspects of it, I’m more grounded than I have ever been. A few hours before sitting on the couch, I’d eased into a corner of a coffee shop. There were maybe 6 people inside. Outside, an entire world. I felt like I belonged in both. 

“A small hot chocolate and a glazed donut, please.” 

There’s a lot of peace and grace that comes when you feel like being yourself is enough. No more, no less. Enough. Enough to belong. To slip into corners. To sink into couches. To bump knees. To sip bourbon and to accept that slow, deliberate steps lead to more sustainable views. 

The people around me know that I’m sitting in a lot of anger and that I’m balancing out the anger with all the other parts of me. They smile patiently as I navigate it all. They’re supporters of my healing. Onlookers as I do the work to mend because they know I need to do the work alone. The reality of how they take care of me, goes down as smooth as the warm drink.

Have you ever not trusted yourself? Right now, I can’t trust myself to love and be angry at the same time. So, I’m just angry. Soft with myself, but hard with some of the world. 

“This is where you and I are completely different people because I get angry with people because I love them.”

A sentence that may as well have revolutionized my life. Because the way I’ve always defined anger is like this — you love people, so you want them to be happy, so why would you want to tell them that you’re not happy with them? 

It’s an unhealthy view of anger and it’s entirely fueled by my fear of loss and by the way my family navigated tense moments. They were more shots of fireball than smooth bourbon. 

“So, I don’t know how I feel about it and this is a first. I don’t know what to do here. I don’t trust myself to show up because I don’t trust that I can stay angry and love at the same time.” Heavy in the air is the afterthought that should have been a forethought from the get — I know I deserve both. 

What I also should have added is that I didn’t trust myself because in my side there’s a fear that pokes me every so often. I’m afraid that if I showed up whole, I would lose all the parts of me that I had healed, all the parts of me that I had strengthened. That I would find myself negotiating myself into oblivion. 

Back to that night, where the bourbon was smooth and the company was good. I ran my finger over the rim of the glass, halfway through and it was still warm. I’ve been playing with heat a lot. Not fire, just heat. I was higher up than I’d been just a few months before. I could look at where I’d been this past summer, the building to my right. 

I’m enchanted by my self-growth. Not overly enamored, just…enchanted. My friend uses the word phoenix some and I can relate. 

To jeopardize that? The nights with bourbon overlooking the park? The feeling rightfully mine in spaces that want to claim me as theirs? The early mornings in corners of coffee shops where the only things on my mind are the heat and the touch of my fingers, on a keyboard? 

To negotiate that? 

I don’t know. 

Staying angry, staying soft. I think. I think I’ll just keep at it.