As soon as I finish telling Eve these things, she finishes the last centimeter of her drink and calls the bartender for a Dr. Pepper. I wonder if anything to come in my life will ever have the potential that this raven-haired angel has somehow managed to stir.
"Can I ask you a question?" she wonders.
"Of course." My foot involuntarily twitches to the rhythm of Crosby Still and Nash's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which has just made its way to the jukebox.
"Is that what you want to happen? What you just told me? The hypothetical?"
"I don't know," I pause. I really don't know. "Maybe."
"Subquestion," she prefaces prior to taking a big sip. "Why is your dream so sad?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well," she begins, "If you can have it any way you want in your mind, and anything can happen, why would you have the story end like that?"
It's a valid question and I'm not particularly sure how to answer it. Why do these stories in my mind end like this? Is it some kind of weird self-sabotage? Shit like that doesn't happen in real life, does it? The whole running-away-on-a-whim thing never really goes down, and on the rare occasion that it does, it never works. Eschewing reality for some overdramatic (albeit thematically rich) fever dream certainly isn't healthy.
So why do I pull that hyperreal Woody Guthrie-lite fantasy out of my ass and try to use it on this incredible woman, this monument to potential happiness, this patron saint of fulfilled wishes who is deigning to even speak to me? Maybe it's watching Flowers for Algernon too often as a child (or watching Babe too often as an adult) that creates this bizarre pseudofantasy that somehow feels like it deserves to be real. These ideas and feelings that come in these little microbursts of emotional downpour seem so much clearer than what is actually going on in my head, what I actually feel about life and love and what's important and some five minute monologue about a romantically tragic fantasy world feels a lot less ridiculous than telling this woman something normal or realistic.
Am I the only one that thinks like this? Or does everyone think it and I'm the only one emotionally asthmatic enough to not know that we don't talk about it? Is this what I really how love is supposed to be?
"I guess I think that it's how love is supposed to be," I say. Eve sucks on an ice cube and processes my confession.
"It's certainly beautiful, in that sad way." The wheels turn behind her eyes. "But why does something have to be so sad in order to be so good?"
"I don't know." And I don't. I really, really don't.
"Do you use that story on all the girls?" Eve asks.
"No, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't used a variation of it before."
"Does it ever work?"
"Not really, no." I sigh a lot louder than I planned to. Eve takes a ten out of her purse and lays it on the counter. She's finished. I have a feeling I am, too.
"You know what I think love is?" She takes a deep breath for a long sentence. "All the bullshit that everyone else dismisses as cliche. Sharing Sunday papers over coffee. Rainy nights with an open window, being held tight while thunder shakes the house. Dinner parties with envious friends who resent you for what you've found. Inside jokes that only come with time."
"And, apparently, Dr. Pepper," I say, only half-joking.
She rises to her cowboy boot-clad feet, puts on her pea coat, and starts to walk out.
"It's not that it's not a good story, because it is. But Andy," she calls over the stiff wind coming from the open doorway, "maybe you should write a new one."