Loneliness is a bitch, and the foreignness of your surroundings makes life hard. No one likes to be patronized, but I can tell you that I was in your shoes once, more or less. I walked cobblestones and wished for a warm body in my bed. I was still in love with the boy who said No, my ears ringing with rejection but my heart never receiving the message.
I left the hostel in my tennis shoes, with my touristy purse over my shoulder. I walked up the streets until I heard music and then I wanted to go in. But I was afraid. I was alone, and I was scared of being a young woman alone in a corner. There was no real danger, but I was afraid to be pitied. More than anything, I wanted to be with the boy who was asleep in the hostel, the boy with warm hands and a big laugh. I wanted him to hold the door open and then buy me a drink. But he was sleeping soundly, and as long as we are friends I will never forgive him for that.
I sat outside, my purse in my lap, listening to the music floating from the windows into the spring air. The steps were cold. I thought long and hard about becoming a smoker, just for one night, so I would have an excuse to sit outside in the cool air and be by myself. I’ve often wished this, but never so hard as that night outside the Bank Hotel.
Finally, finally, finally, someone noticed. A creepy Russian man, wouldn’t you know. He stopped, let his friends keep walking and approached me there on the steps, my face a clear portrait of angst and wishfulness.
“Are you lonely?” Were the first words out of his mouth. I felt like I was in a story. Maybe this was the beginning. So I nodded. He asked me where I was from, and I said, “California.” He opened his mouth to say more, but someone turned back to yell for him, and he looked sorry as he walked away. I was sorry too. I wanted his company more than I wanted a cigarette.
But he walked away and I was alone again. The solitude, the feel of being lost in a crowd, it rubbed against me and bit me inside. I walked into the bar, went directly to the restroom, and walked out again. No way. I kept walking down the steps, out into the street, away from the beautiful music and the laughter and the clink of ice against glass. The door scraped against the tile as I went inside the hostel. I undressed, slid between worn sheets, and listened to him breathe in the bunk above me.
Never travel with the boy who doesn’t love you. Never love the boy who won’t love you back. Never be afraid to order your own drink and to sit alone on a wooden bar stool. Never let that boy ruin your night.