2015 started with a record chill.

I rang in the new year with my closest friends in an outdoor bar downtown. It was probably a bad call on our part but a smart call on the bar’s. It was so unseasonably chilly we sucked down whiskey like fishes in water and huddled around the one outdoor firepit listening to drunk hipsters try to guess if our fur coats were real.

We were all minimum wage baristas, so no. But I appreciated the idea that I looked rich enough to afford and wear a dead animal like it’s nothing short of creepy.

Towards the end of the night the bartender had begun giving out free shots and champagne. Being Irish and, as a result, physically unable to reject anyone’s attempts at hospitality, I accepted them all then tipped her $20 slurring that,

“I’m a barista and people are terrible when they’re sober so they must be worse drunk.”

It was a steady, happy inebriation. I kissed my then-boyfriend. I kissed my friends. I told random women that their dresses were pretty because drunk me is nothing short of a perfect, supportive feminist saving drunk girls from creeps and telling strangers that their eyeliner is on point.

I was sure of two things:

1. That I loved everyone and everything and Los Angeles and puppies and cheap street food and 2. My toes were turning purple in my open-toed, strappy party heels.

We took what turned out to not be our Lyft (I insisted using Lyft because Uber was facing all those harassment charges) and somehow ended up back at my boyfriend’s apartment alive and unscathed.

In the midst of my drunken revelation that the Universe is love and, to quote Shakira, “We are all branches of the same damn tree,” my then-boyfriend appeared with some slippers for my battered, blue feet. I was verklempt.

If you’re wondering, my toes were purple because I had somehow managed to bruise them and not, as I had suspected, because I had frostbite from Los Angeles being plunged into the low 60s.

We went to bed. Miraculously I managed to fold my party clothes and put on pajamas. Drunk me is very conscientious.

“I love them so much.” I slurred.

“Your friends are so nice. I like them,” he agreed.

“They’re the best people. They’re my favorites. I love them.”

I paused.

I grabbed his face.

“I love you, too. Okay?” I patted his cheek.

He paused. He paused a little too long. Drunk-me had fucked up. The Universe wasn’t love. The Universe was rules and pretending you didn’t get text messages until three hours later so you didn’t seem needy. The Universe was having your shit together and not getting sloppy.

The Universe was disappointed in me.

“I’m not ready to say that.” Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

“Oh no.”

Drunk people taking care of other drunk people are kind of like toddlers.

“It’s okay,” he tried to reassure me, petting my hair. “I really really like you. I like you so much. I’m just not ready to say that.”

I thought very carefully before I said anything else. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure it was very eloquent. I then ended it by blowing a raspberry and saying,

“Pfffffffttttttt. Okay, pal.”

The next day we silently agreed, in the throes of a truly hellish hangover, never to speak of it again.

I’m sure there’s a bigger lesson here, like “Don’t try to force things” or “Love isn’t always shown through words but through actions” but here was my takeaway:

Never say “I love you” first ever again.

If they don’t say “I love you” first, you choke that shit down. You shove it down like a 3rd grader at a slumber party trying to fit their Coleman sleeping bag back into the drawstring travel bag.

You take that shit to your grave.

the second mrs. de winter wattpad.com/califiapress

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