Memories & Merlot

January 2021

One day you pick up the phone. It’s the dean of a medical school. He congratulates you on your acceptance into their medical school. You are so overwhelmed with joy that one lonesome tear crawls down your cheek. You let it roll. And you wipe it away quickly because you’re bartending and absolutely no one wants to see their bartender cry. For god sakes, no emotions. But you’re so happy you want to cry. You call your mom and your dad. You try to contain it but every cell in your body is bursting with euphoria. Your life changes. You have a future. You are going to be a doctor. This is one of the best moments of your entire life. Congrats.

Then one day you wake up on the floor, alone in your apartment. It’s the emptiest of feelings. You hate who you’ve become. The morning light spills through the blinds to the patio. It burns your eyes. Empty bottle of nine dollar Merlot on your coffee table. Your old MacBook is in front of you, last open to text message threads from friends and people you loved who only exist in these archives. You read them to relive old memories that no one aside from you even gives a shit about. The texts you sent in 2017 read like they were sent from someone else. An entirely different human being.

You lay there, on the floor, staring at a screen with jaded eyes. Every Friday night alone in the living room. Sipping cheap aldi wine. You play music that reminded you of times of old, songs that soundtracked these distant eras. You stay up, late at night, to attentively watch YouTube videos of 4K tours of old cities you’d lived in. 

Can you imagine anything more pathetic. Seriously, what an absolute loser. Oh you’re a young single doctor how awesome they say. No, I hate myself and spend all free time reminiscing on memories of when I was happy. Mad at yourself. Alone in an apartment wine-tipsy searching for YouTube videos of cities you lived in. Just to remember. Desperately trying to breathe some life into memories that were rapidly being replaced. Memories of when life was full of fiery energy and rose colored emotions. Replaced by grey monotony and purposelessness and longing for just one more day with people you care about. Conversations that make you want to bang your head on a concrete wall. How’s my 401k. The stock market, it’s really something right now huh. Oh my god, what about the gas prices and how bout air fryers. You gotta get one. 

You watch the videos and remember. On the shaky hand-cam footage you see the little coffee shop on the corner where they knew your name and order: a chorizo breakfast burrito with an iced coffee. You see the streets you’d stumble down in a euphoric stupor giggling with the people you could laugh with until the sun rose. That little cafe you went on a date before coming home to cozy up and watch a scary movie. You can close your eyes and feel it. You stare at these images misty-eyed. Pretend for just a fleeting moment that you are there. You remember the warmth of it all. Close your eyes and listen to the music and let images play on your eyelids and meditate on it and for a few seconds, just a few seconds, it feels like you there again and it feels so, so fucking warm.  Then you open your eyes. You realize it’s no more real or tangible than a fantasy dream. And it just hurts. 

And in this daze at three in the morning, alone in a dimly lit apartment a thousand miles away, lips stained red from the merlot, you wonder how you got here. You mentally beat yourself for what you should have done differently until you feel so defeated that you become tired and numb. You miss the people and memories but most of all you miss that feeling of hope and wonder. You miss the old you as if it were an entirely different person. It was someone else. You gaze into the black mirror and think I am not me at all. What happened to that bright-eyed kid. The son and brother who was so full of pride. The friend with endless jokes and smiles and banter. The genuinely happy and charismatic human being. You lay there on the floor and realize you are so far gone. You wish with every bit of emotion in your soul that it will come back, some day. And it hurts but… it’s something. It’s a feeling. And that is what you crave. A feeling. Sadness, a human feeling. You do it to simply feel human again after a another week of feeling anything but that. A week of no emotions. An intern amongst dozens who doesn’t actually matter to anyone. A thousand miles from home and everyone you care about.

Then it’s four am and you’re sobbing watching these YouTube videos while “Its Too Late” by Carroll King plays on the Amazon Echo. You wake up on the floor, eyes swollen, and you’re hate yourself for devolving into such a nostalgic mess of sadness, but, it’s the most human moment of your week. It’s all you have. And you’ll repeat this again and again and again. 

One day life will be better. Make someone smile tomorrow. Just keep going.

3 comments

  1. Hey man. Sending you some love! It takes courage to journal candidly like this- think that parallel life is still available, even if it feels like you’re moved on to further chapters. Realizing that may bring you some solace. Hope residency is treating you well. I’m ~4 months away from applying myself

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