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When I was 19 I worked at this restaurant up the hill from my house, the only restaurant within walking distance. There was an upper and lower restaurant. One was more like a brunch spot and the other was a“fine dining” tourist trap. I had just started receiving shifts downstairs and getting acquainted with the staff. Most of the people who worked there were in their mid-thirties and upwards except this dorky guy who walked with a swagger, a busboy with a turquoise Nike sweatshirt. In hindsight, maybe it was a lag. I thought he was kind of cute because I didn’t know him outside of the restaurant environment. He always had American Spirit blues that I would bum after shifts because I couldn’t buy them myself yet. He had this cute car. I forgot what they’re called but it was a white? blue? boxy kinda camping vehicle. I forgot how but we both decided to hang out together after work one day. I didn’t know it, but pretty much like everyone else here, he was addicted to a few things.

The first night we hung out, we did xans. I did way too much and would come in and out of consciousness once on the couch, then in the passenger seat, then in bed. I didn’t want to deal with processing that while either having a shift or class looming, so I just stayed with him for the following three days. He was a history and philosophy buff, which is often how I like guys, but was a bit stunted emotionally.

He told me about his stepdad who viewed him as more of an outsider than his own. He would describe the ways his mother repeatedly chose her new husband over her son. I had empathy for this long hurt, though it was out of my bounds to have any part in repairing wounds, the best I could do was listen and watch him snort lines.

He was kind of annoying but I appreciated the companionship. Eventually, it escalated to us spending, pretty much, every night together. He would buy an over half off bottle of wine from management and we’d make our way back to my place. He never introduced himself to my dad, he would make a b-line to my room and hide out there. He was 23, just like I am now. Each night, he would drink a bottle of wine, then do coke, smoke several bowls then would take a xan. He loved his pressed pills. We would get breakfast in the morning, he would drive me to class, and he would help me with my essays but eventually, it was growing intolerable. While I would be doing readings for class he would be playing video games on my desktop drinking wine with my soft blue blanket covering his shoulders. Whenever we had sex he would be so out of it and by that time I was barely attracted to him.

Eventually, the coke got to his head. He started becoming extremely paranoid. I was on a trip. I kissed someone else. I told him and he didn’t take it well, which I should’ve anticipated. (I’m a recovered serial cheater now!!! I won’t cheat ever again.) Not an excuse. I didn’t even like the guy who I kissed. He just asked for one on the lips (on New Year’s in Tokyo) and I was like ok whatever.

On my trip, we bounced from city to city carrying all of our necessities with us. During that trip, I had a big suitcase and I learned my lesson. I only pack lightly now. It was my first time out of the country. I saved up throughout the past 2 years to go. It was terrifying. I’m half Japanese so I blended in pretty well but in terms of communication and mannerisms, I was a complete outsider. This dissonance transformed into fear which somehow manifested in me thinking each place we stayed in was haunted by ghosts. I was face timing P, hiding under my blankets because I was certain that there was a ghost in the room. He was angry with me saying, “I know that there’s someone else in the room with you. I know you’re hiding them.” So I responded, “Please stop. I’m really scared of ghosts.” He fed my fear and I fed his paranoia. We were missing each other completely so I hung up.