With a flutter of her eyelids she breathes her first intentional breath of the morning.
She is calm. She is centered. She is peaceful.
This lasts for maybe two seconds before she realizes who and where she is.
As she scrambles to try and find her clothes in the tornado of mess and shame cluttering the floor, panic hangs over her head and swirls the hazy memory of last night. She looks over her shoulder at the still sleeping stranger in a bed which is not hers, and quietly, anxiously, pulls on her too-tight-for-morning dress. She grabs her strappy sandals and runs out the door, leaving nothing behind but a hint of indignity and her Victoria Secret panties. 
Running down the block to catch a cab never seemed more impossible. With a pounding headache and tired feet in 6 inch heels, 7 am on a Saturday looked like more of a hellscape than a time frame.
She clutches her bag and frantically searches for the holy trinity; phone, keys, wallet. Luckily, all three are there, along with a hoard of worried drunk texts from the girls.
"Who is that guy??"
"Where did you go??"
"Are you OK??"
A roll of the eyes and a sigh of relief indicate a survivor. Made it out without a devastating loss, maybe a little shame, but hopefully not an STD and certainly not a pregnancy.
Shit. More panic.
Why is it that every time I have too much tequila I jump in to bed with the first guy that pays attention to me? Didn't I learn my lesson from last weekend? No one loves the drunk girl!
The cab pulls in front of her Bushwick walk up and she carries her tired ass up all four flights of stairs before collapsing on her bed. Time to sleep and forget. 
At least 2 hours go by before the phone rings.
"We're going to brunch. Brush your hair and meet us downtown in an hour."
It was a bit of a struggle, but she managed to roll out of bed and grab a sweater that didn't smell in the pursuit of unlimited mimosas.
While she waited for her Uber, she opened Tinder and swiped through about thirty different bachelors.
Too short.
Too hairy.
Weird name.
Dick pic.
Until she lands on one. I could totally see us having three kids. Ranch style house upstate. Swipe right.
The Uber rings her and she's quickly taken out of the fantasy. She runs downstairs, hops in for the quick ride, and when she arrives at the Saturday midday mecca she is met with a threesome of curious faces.
"So... what happened to you last night?"
"Yeah last we saw you were making out with some guy and when we turned back you were gone."
"We tried to text you!"
Fuck. How do I tell them I have no recollection of that and that I only half remember this guys face.
"Well, I mean, I was just on the prowl. You know me!"
There was a cloud of discreet judgement in the air. Nothing too damning. We all admired the "Samantha" in the group, but did any of us want to be her? Did we even know how? Was it actually possible for girls our age to hook up without the deep yearning for an emotional connection? For love?
The table of twenty somethings stared at each other before a girly cheers to a post hookup brunch.
"So do you think you're gunna hang out with that guy again? He seemed super into you last night... Well, obviously..."
Fuck how do I tell them I bailed out of panic.
"Oh probably not. You know I never like to keep them around for too long. Its like, I'm just really secure in who I am right now and I don't want to get involved in a relationship and get dragged down. Ya know?"
A rousing "Totally."
After two hours of sucking down the glory that is unlimited brunch, she leaves her girlfriends and drunkenly reassures herself.
Honestly it's totally fine. People sleep around all the time. You'll just have to find a guy that likes you the way you are. Just because you like sex doesn't mean you'll never find love. I mean, I'm sure people can fall in love after having sex first. ITS JUST SEX.
She gets in her cab and feels a wash of relief. All she wants is someone to love her. The partying makes it easier to meet people and the alcohol takes away all of those pesky inhibitions. Cutting a few corners never hurt anyone, right?
( *)

Published by Shawn Engel