Today’s Drinking Story:
Here we see Georgia Perry learning a lot about her love life…at a hard cider festival…in a port-a-potty.
You know how sometimes you really want to love somebody, and you want it to be easy, but it’s not? You want desperately to not be annoyed by this person, so you can just settle down nicely and easily, be happy, for chrissake, but you are. Annoyed by the person.
Jordan annoyed me. He was also breaking my heart while I used a portable restroom facility. Christian, my boss, was texting me.
“I’ll be out in a min,” I wrote him back. We were at an artisanal cider festival in Portland, Oregon. It was late June. My boyfriend Jordan was involved in a dragon boat race on the Willamette River, something all Portlanders know about and eagerly participate in, but the rest of the country maybe-or-maybe-doesn’t remember reading about in their seventh grade social studies textbook’s sidebar on the Chinese New Year. I don’t know. I grew up in Indiana. I went canoeing once at summer camp, I think.
The cider festival was set up in a grassy riverside park about a mile down from where Jordan was having his dragon boat races. I’d gotten annoyed with Jordan the night before because I went over to his house to hang out with him, go for a bite or something, but when I arrived he was in the midst of some giant packing project. He had taken it upon himself to provide tables, chairs, tents, music, sunscreen, and even hammocks for the half dozen or so members of his dragon boat team. This was typical: I always date guys who feel 100 percent responsible for the material well being of groups that they are not actually in charge of. The needs of random acquaintances inevitably, at some point, come at the expense of our relationship, and I knew exactly what was happening here. I left Jordan’s early and went home to watch a movie.
The next day I knew that a younger version of myself in this same situation would have bought Jordan a coffee and met him at the dragon boat races, apologized for the night before, and continued the charade of a relationship for another few weeks or months. I didn’t do that. Instead, I drunk dialed him from an artisanal cider festival. He did not answer. I went to use the port-a-potty. Then he called back.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing.” Using a port-a-potty. “How are the races?”
“Listen, I just don’t think this is working.”
“I’ve just been feeling weird all day.”
“We could still hang out as friends or something. I think you’re a cool girl.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I want to do that.”
“So, that’s it, then?”
“Yeah, I guess that’s it.”
We hung up.
I emerged wiping tears from my eyes. I clutched the handy Guide To Northwest Cider brochure I had picked up at the information table on the way in. I worked for Christian as a researcher on his beer guidebook, calling breweries and brewpubs across the country to confirm their contact information. Then his girlfriend Megan needed some writers for her west coast beer magazine so I started working for her, too. I was currently writing a story for Megan about alcoholic cider and how different types of it compare to different types of craft beer. I didn’t really care about artisanal cider then, and I don’t now. I just figured if I pitched a story about cider I would get to drink a lot of it for free. I was right about that, but I didn’t anticipate the taking-notes-while-sobbing dilemma. When I came out I ambled over to Christian, who wrapped his arms around me in the fading sunlight.
“My boyfriend just broke up with me.”
Over his shoulder I saw Megan jump into action–straddling the ground she stood on, she pointed at me with her entire arm extended, like a third base coach urging her runner to gun it for home plate, and exclaimed, “That’s a story!”
I carried a heaviness in my chest. I had done this to myself. I knew what kind of guy Jordan was within five minutes of sitting across a restaurant table from him. I always date guys like him. Guys who cook elaborate meals, and change the bass settings on my stereo, and who bring army-grade first aid kits on mile-long hikes. This type of guy does this sort of thing for everybody in his life, and refuses to let anybody do the same for him. You feel special at first, then realize it’s not for you. You could be anybody. Christian was not this way. He was so out of control on this book project that it was disarming, and utterly endearing. He perpetually had his head in his hands, struggling to meet his deadlines. He was grateful for my help, and he made that clear. In his acknowledgements he called me a hero. In his acknowledgements he called Megan fearless. He mentioned her first.
I sat on the grass for awhile longer. Somebody handed me a little plastic goblet of cider. I sat down with it. Megan’s yellow Labrador, Milo, knocked it onto my lap with his tail.
Then it was time for me to make my way home. Nobody was fueling my fire with heartbreak stories of their own, which I had politely requested, and now the darkness was creeping in. I needed to be alone before it took hold. I needed to be home. I needed my cat. I needed Jordan. I needed it to be three months into the future–stat. The next two or three days would be tidal wave heartache, cave-like loneliness, and I figured I might as well dive in.
Christian drove me home, and we talked about the sorts of people we date. He told me he always dates strong girls, girls who can handle situations. He told me about how Megan drove him to the dentist earlier that week to get a root canal, how he had a panic attack in the car and she deftly calmed him. I said that sounds like the kind of person I date, too.
He nodded a goodbye, and I slid silently out of the car.