A smoke-filled room in a karaoke club. I sit, surrounded by strangers. A roommate had invited me to karaoke and, being new to the city, I eagerly accepted with hopes to fill my time with something other than my destinationless wanderings. I walk in to see her and two men. So I sit, and find myself surrounded by strangers.
Beer flows freely in the room and soon I’m surrounded by red-faced strangers.
“You look young. How old are you?” The man on my right asks, leaning in.
“Twenty,” I answer because I have a feeling I know where this is going.
“I bet—“ he pauses, “I bet you still believe in love.”
“I do,” I answer.
The mood in the room changes. “You don’t know how envious I am of you,” they will all chime. “I wish I still believed in love.” “Love, like what you believe, it doesn’t exist.” “I loved someone once, and he ran away with my money.” “And then she left me with my son.” “She lied to me, she left me.”
The narratives are the same. How naïve, they say of me. How inexperienced, how young, how crazy you are to hold your ideals of love, they will say of me.
Later, one of the men will tell me that my hair smells good. The other will ask for my phone number.
When we leave the karaoke bar, my roommate turns to me and tells me not to go on any excursions with the men. “I get a bad feeling about him,” she will say. “Don’t go with him anywhere.”
It’s okay. Because he never called.
Later that year, I will meet a 22-year-old who will tell me that it’s dangerous to hold the ideals of love that I do. I will call him a pessimist. He will call himself a realist. We will hold hands and I will start to question myself.
I once read somewhere that the scariest thing about growing up is watching everyone’s dreams and aspirations put to the side in favor of reality.
Last night, I dreamt of you. And even though it hurt, it felt so good to be young.