No Matter What I Do, I Can’t Escape You


Making mistakes is something everyone does. Learning from them is not.

Sea salt and sweltering sex were on my skin. And earlier that day, I thought I could cover up my true desires for you. I went into Saks and sprayed half a bottle of Maison Martin Margiela’s scent just underneath my earlobes because I remembered how the notes of whiskey on my neck always drove you wild.

I stared at the liquid inside the bottle. Copper, like a shiny penny. I hallucinated seeing a fleeting glimmer of luck, and wanted to tuck the contents in the bottle into my back pocket. It looked so cheap and beautiful, just like those flower markets in Bangkok.

“You have to handle the shit before the shit handles you,” I told myself as I smiled at the salesgirl with red Chanel lipstick on her teeth in your favorite shade. You know the one — deep red, like when you used to bite my lip and make me bleed.

You see, I keep thinking of you everywhere I go, and your smell hangs around on the clothes I wear. (I can’t even tell you how much more intoxicating it becomes at night.) Your smell never fades; it burns inside me and seeps through my pores like lava.

I thought the only way to make it go away was to find someone else, and I only ever felt comfortable picking up guys at the jazz club. Call me old-fashioned, I know. As soon as I entered, there were people exhaling smoke from their heroin-filled pipes; sheer tops and long tresses swayed then fell as I blinked around the room. I moved into the lounge area and let my olfactory lead me. Never remembering names (and only remembering smells), I danced with a Jasmine Rouge lawyer, and an Italian Cypress professor, but ended up setting my nose on a fireball-breath undergrad (he was sweet and dumb, and not you).

I smelled him from across the room — a cheap, shiny, and watered-down version of you and my heart fluttered. Maybe it was something in the air or just that universal nightlife moment when wet disco crystallizes into an orgasm that rivals religiosity. A feeling of neon needles on the heart, of luck and youth and drugs. I felt it deep inside myself and smelled it crawling through my skin.

With the saxophone blasting, I knelt down and prayed in my mind that I could be rid of your smell of whiskey on my skin forever. Yes, I am the one that left, but there are puffs and whiffs of you everywhere. And yes, it was my mistake for wanting you, all of you, because once you were done intoxicating me, all you ever wanted was to be with everybody else.

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