Can I have your number? It’s for Track and Trace

As the pandemic reshapes the entire premise of a night out, the fragmented memories of a pre-night out ritual lay abandoned in the corner of my mind. In its company are the jumbled letters of maths formulae, the disordered notes of piano arpeggios, and the script of my GCSE Spanish coursework. What was once an effortless routine, now melts away slowly; memories of rainy Glasgow nights culminating into a dripping pool of forgetfulness.

As dusk neared, the block of flats would project scattered rectangles of yellow light onto the pavement. Students filtered through the street casting distinctive shadows: some carried Tesco bags, crates of cheap beer, or bundles of clean laundry. We’d sit idly amongst stacked plates and empty wine bottles like they were part of the furniture and watch as the silhouettes passed by, like some modern twist on Plato’s cave allegory. In the same way that open windows spilled music onto the Glaswegian streets, cans splashed dazzling potions into mouths and onto the kitchen floor, their coloured puddles mimicking that of a chemical composition, an unwelcome reminder of my lab class the following morning.

Half-empty Tennent’s cans would reside on pavements like luminous buoys anchored in a sea of taxis and students. Inebriation slowly loosened my flatmates’ grip on Uber etiquette, doors slammed accidentally and bottles clinked in the back seat. I watched the Uber rating diminish with each passing mile, the 5 stars falling all over the road, colliding with the tarmac to create an upwards trail of sparkling cosmic dust. Traffic lights illuminated the backseat in glowing greens and reds like the inside of some cheap Christmas grotto while phone screens painted faces in brilliant white as we ignored the enchanting cityscape we’d become so accustomed to.

Upon arrival, the club would already be a sweaty tangle of limbs perfumed with the familiar mawkish scent of beer and pheromones. After winding through the labyrinth of plastic cups we’d arrive at the refuge of the smoking area, an escape from club photographers and the dreaded plague of boys in skinny jeans. Outside, glowing amber lamps magnetised those underdressed for the wintry Glasgow air as strangers sparked conversation in unison with their lighters. The smoke spiralled upwards and settled in the November fog alongside conversations of great political debate and the quintessential drunken spiel about exs.  

As restrictions ease, social gatherings awaken from their slumber but their facade is of a different nature. I sit in the stubbled remains of a wheat field, 2 metres from each of my friends. Tractors stir and hum in the distance as they work into the night; sorting the sillage from the recent harvest. Conversation seems easier, there’s no random interjections from strangers and no deafening bass to shout over. So we sit and drink, the sun bronzing our faces as flies cut lines through the stillness of the summer air. We stay until the speaker cries the ominous tone of low battery. Then, in the darkness we navigate the twisting tracks and irrigation channels of the fields, blaming the non-existent street lamps when we stumble, not the alcohol. I return to my childhood bedroom, close the door quietly as not to wake my younger brother, and stare at the irregularities of the stucco ceiling.

 In the morning I wake up to a golden realm; as the sun shines through the paper-thin curtains. Before, I’d awake to see the familiar melange of nightclub stamps inked on my arm, the respective fading crafting an intricate mosaic on my skin. We’d lay defeated under duvets covers and assess the damage to our bank balances as if they were our livers. Instead, the cacophonous combination of power tools and the cries of nesting swallows spill through the window. However pandemic or not there’s one constant I can rely on- the familiar looming hangover to consume Sunday in all its entirety.

[Tiarna Meehan – she/her]

[Photo credit: JonnyMac26]

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