I don’t vomit often but every time I do, it seems to be in America.
Maybe it’s the free-pouring of liquor, in contrast to our responsible and regulated 1oz shots, carefully measured out one after another. Maybe travelling is hard on my stomach. Maybe it’s the $2.50 beer specials. Maybe it’s the cloak of justification that I place upon my shoulders every time I cross the boarder, or the voice of Lady Liberty in my ear whispering: “Yes…indulge! Eat and drink and be free… this is America! This is FREEDOM.” Either way, you could trace the path of my proverbial vomit-comet all the way from Boston to NYC, down to Miami, over to Oakland and you’ll end up, most recently, in Seattle.
I’m not proud of this; vomiting is a disgusting facet of life and something that should only happen to you after the age of 25 because of severe illness or pregnancy. But a few weekends ago, in Seattle, I found myself crouched over the hotel toilet at 2am barfing as if it was my high school graduation and praying to a God I didn’t know I believed in, when my boyfriend walked in. He looked at me, silently, and I shooed him away with a mortified wave of my hand. Two minutes later, he walked in again. I begged him to leave. This back-and-forth happened two more times, until he finally pointed at the toilet and it dawned on me that he was indicating a need to use it. Terrified that he was about to expel the same demons that had been haunting me, I got up and moved to the sink. Moments later, I glanced over to see him peeing, as if nothing out of the ordinary had been happening.
Mildly confused as to why my significant other had made eye contact with me while vomiting, ignored my pleas for privacy and kicked me out of the bathroom without uttering a single word the entire time, I finally fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up still feeling like an involuntary vessel for all things evil. “Oh no,” he said innocently, as if just learning about my pain for the first time, “do you think you need to throw up?”
“I literally threw up six times last night. You WATCHED me.”
“You watched me, and then you pointed at the toilet and made me move, so you could pee.”
He’d been sleepwalking. A wave of relief washed over me. He hadn’t seen me heaving violently over the toilet, sweaty hair matted to my forehead, bloodshot eyes pleading with him to look away! HE HADN’T SEEN IT.
The thing is, he never sleepwalks. This was completely, utterly, abnormal behaviour. Suddenly we both had strange, international behaviours to account for… but really, isn’t that what love is? Cradling the weirdest parts of you in your palms and offering them to someone else in the hopes that they’ll accept them like the precious stones they are? That they’ll offer you back a few palmfuls of their own? That’s one of my favourite things about this big love of mine, the way it is continuously revealing itself, piece by piece, over time. The most joyous moments being those when you find a piece that matches one of your own in its weirdness. Because then you start to put these pieces together and they create this serene, unique, and brilliantly fucked up landscape that only the two of you get to live in. A map of America covered in vomit and sleepwalking through life together.