We were drunk, the lights were off, and the doors were locked. You see that large white building on the left side of Vitosha Boulevard? We were in that building. The communist bosses from Moscow would stand on the roof of that building to deliver their speeches to the masses below.
(I could post a picture of who I was drunk with–my soon-to-be travel companion from yesterday’s post–but this is where I flinch.)
Our swearing-in Peace Corps ceremony had ended and a few of us were very drunk even though the American Ambassador, the Minister of Education, and the Elvis impersonator were there. But my story starts when everyone else was gone, chains locked the front doors, the power cut off, and the employees gone.
We stumbled down the stairs and back up. We stopped at a landing and looked out the window that went from the ceiling to the floor and corner to corner. The city, Sofia, stretched out before us, and I thought, no one here knows anything about me.
My companion saw our bus waiting under a streetlight, our fellow volunteers milling around too far away for us to tell who was who. They were waiting for us, we supposed, and we pounded on the glass and shouted, “We’re locked in!” But they couldn’t hear us.
That building is even bigger when you’re drunk. We staggered in circles until we found a kitchen and the backdoor. I still remember the August night air hitting my face and how much I laughed and spun on the sidewalk.
I never drank in high school or college, and the alcohol wasn’t the only thing that went to my head in that former communist stronghold. When I climbed on the bus, hearing not one word of the scolding we got from the Peace Corps director, I forgot who I was. My companion and I found our seats and I rested my head on his shoulder. I forgot who he was, too.
It’s a rush to think you can be somebody new and get away with it.
Characters in fiction make this mistake. They run from their enemies, their past, themselves, and the reader often hopes that, yes, this time they will get it right. In the happy ending, bodies may fall but the hero is proven right, forgiven, redeemed, or saved. In the unhappy ending, bodies may fall including the heroine’s own. She gets sucked back to where she came from, pays in heartbreak, or dies.
Can’t you think of stories like that?