The last few months since I moved to DC have spun me inside-out. And the bender that started sometime around August of last year in Charlotte has only increased its frenetic pace. This Christmas season was no exception and we seemed to stumble from one party to the next, endlessly tearing through handles of bourbon and tripping more frequently than ever in our lives. We prepared for twenty inches of snow by stocking up with a handle of Beam, a handle of vodka, another fifth of Beam, three cases of beer, and a fifth of Kahlua. And it wasn’t enough. We awoke groggily that Saturday morning, with hungover bodies littered around the living room, to a thick slab of snow covering everything in sight. Easily already ten inches had fallen and the less-than-delicate flakes came down hard and angry from the sky like wasps. Despite the formidable wind and frigid temperature, it was breakfast time, and I needed bacon. A couple of boys I had recently met during my brief stint waiting tables had made their way to the party at around four that morning and they agreed to accompany me into the blindingly colorless void that had become Columbia Heights in order to search out my beloved bacon. An odd couple they were: one a lanky and easily excitable ham, the other a short, relaxed personality with dreads that swung down his back in thin black ropes. With the sidewalks impassable, we trudged our way down the middle of the half-plowed street, the sharp wind chewing our faces, searching any convenience store that had the balls to be open in this torrent of snow. Despite the boys’ seemingly conflicting attitudes, they shared the same off-the-wall sense of humor as I do, and the frigid biting of the snow was eased by the raunchy laughter we shared. As we made our way onwards, one establishment after the next disappointed on the bacon front and we eventually had to settle for a package of turkey bacon and another fifth of bourbon before making our way back to the toasty comfort of home.

As we ate the satiating feast with Christmas approaching the conversation naturally wandered to the story of the Nutcracker. Between the six of us that remained in refuge from the storm, not one could remember the plot. Struggling to recall details of rats and sugar plum fairies, we eventually decided to turn to Google. And so was the birth of the fairy tale trip. As we read the story of the Nutcracker aloud to the group, the heinous details of the original story appalled and entertained us. Clearly none of us had ever heard the real story before as we learned that in order for the king’s daughter to have the curse of her nutcracker-head broken, she had to find a man who had never been shaven, and never worn boots, to walk seven steps backwards without falling down. Seriously? We sat rapt as my delightfully intense new friend continued on through the engrossing tale. And when the girl finally fell in love with the nutcracker and the curse was broken, we only wanted to hear more. Considering we had nothing but time, booze, and a bag of mushrooms, we passed those snowed-in hours hiding from the arctic air, reading stories aloud from a book of Grimm’s fairy tales, and discussing with horror the terrifying choices made by these beloved and loathed characters. For twelve hours we stayed cuddled cozy in the living room through the last bottle of bourbon as the snow continued to fall silently onto the cold, white streets.

Despite all the fun we were having, the poet was still on my mind as I struggled to find what I needed from him. Something had changed since I left Charlotte behind, and I found myself fighting for even the smallest shreds of the affection he used to offer me freely. His warm, cloudy eyes turned to steel, and his soft words sharpened, slicing my shallow skin as I continued to hope for the return of the man I knew before. Snaking my way through the bar on Christmas Eve’s eve, pushing past hoards of drunken hipsters, I saw him in his familiar posture, seated where he always sits. Though he had yet to answer the questions that had been clawing my chest from the inside out, my eyes still alighted incandescent at the sight of his quiet face. But as I approached, and sweetly greeted this mystery of a man, his eyes met mine with an apathetic disdain that pulled the air from my chest like smoke. His arctic, silent reaction to my eager, earnest face left me hollow. It was the last straw my weary back could take and, dejected, I walked away without another word. I headed straight to the upstairs bar to the easy comfort of my friends, and the sweet burn of bourbon. Their frank and raucous company was a welcome distraction from the disappointment I was trying pitifully to hide. As I drowned my belly in bourbon I slipped into the lilting rhythms of flirtation with a boy to whom I had just been introduced. A long ago face from my friends’ collective past had come to town this Christmas Eve, and Anwar was quick to push me in the direction of the man that will be known as the teddy bear. I probably should have considered the significance of walking away from one man and instantly falling into another, but at the time I was simply grateful for his gentle demeanor and candid eyes. He veiled me in the warmth of being wanted and it was effortless from the start. For the next two weeks we were inseparable. He made me laugh and kissed me often and on Christmas night, the lot of us tripped in the comfort of our wonderfully familiar living room yet again, and felt like a family in round agreement that it was the best Christmas we had ever had. Though the poet had fallen from my favor and bruised me in the process, the teddy bear held me in the way I had been missing, from Christmas through my birthday, and unknowingly bandaged the wounds I was quietly nursing before his arrival. We were a fast flame, I was content, and thoughts of the last burn had fled my tired mind, at least for a moment.