I woke up at 6:35, opened my eyes to a palm-sized spider perched on the corner of my mattress, inches from my forehead. Sitting, waiting, trying to eat me. The smell of vomit permeated my nostrils. My back was to the wall, facing away from the mess. My world rocked as I rolled over, impassively took in the scene. Barf dripped down my brand new wall, starting close to the ceiling, near the naked light bulb, chewed bits of meat, mandio and sopa clung to the bare cement. How in the hell did my vomit get all the way up there? My brain fiddled weakly with the mystery. I sat up, the inside of my shirt was caked with vomit, my chest stained red with the remnants of wine and pork. I laid back down next to the spider and tried to cry.

Called Omar.
“It’s bad Oms.”
“Are you ok?”
“I don’t remember anything from last night.”
“You’re lying.”
“I puked seven feet high last night.”
“It is bad.”

I moved into my own house. A small room, eight feet by ten. I stuffed a fridge, a bed, a table, three chairs and a dresser into the tiny space with just enough extra room to pull one of the chairs out from where they were tidily tucked under the table. I felt so wonderful, so proud of myself and independent. I just had to celebrate. My first house, my first time living all the way alone.
I bought the wine, a little liter box, Rosado. Omar and I set a Skype date. Sipping from a tiny white cup, the only cup I have, I chatted with Oms, munched on a “to-go dinner” that my host mom had arranged for me and began to smile with the warmth of the wine. I felt like I wasn’t officially drinking alone since I had Omar right there in front of me, his little face glowing at me from the computer screen.

The night slugged on, the wine slipped down, somewhere along the way, I stopped retaining memories of what was being said.

I woke while vomit poured out of my mouth. I thought I was outside leaning against a tree with the wind blowing cool air across my face. That was a lie my brain conjured up for the sake of itself.

And then it was morning and I was facing the damage of drinking alone. The first, last, only time I would indulge in such activity. The knuckles of my right hand were skinned and raw. I’d slept with my door and window wide open. A count turned up 38 fresh mosquito bites.

The cleaning was a slow process. I scooped up the puke with a plastic bag and scrubbed the wall with a stiff bristled brush, tossing water over the cement with my only bowl. I swept the pinkish chunks out the door and rested. Showered. Scrubbed my chest. Rested. Stripped the fresh American sheets, now stained with my Paraguayan wine barf. They had been on the bed for a whole day.

I decided to drink some rehydration salts that I had stored in my med kit. Waves of nausea washed over me when I moved anything other than my hands. Mix with one liter of water, the directions read. How to measure a liter I wondered? I filled my blender until it looked roughly like a liter, poured the salts in. I waited and waited for the salts to dissolve, they didn’t. I blended them, worked like a charm. I tilted the lip of the blender to my mouth and drank, not bad, the salts were a bit salty, a bit sweetish, but mild. I swallowed and then noticed the tiny chunks of rust floating in the blender. The blade was rusty.

Called Omar.
“I blended myself some rehydration salts but the blade of the blender was rusty and I drank some rust flakes. Will I get lockjaw?”
“You’ll be fine.”
“How do you know though?”
“I don’t, maybe you will get lockjaw.”
“I think I will dump these salts out and make a new batch.”
“That’s probably a good idea.”

I dumped the blender full of salty sweet water into the grass and mixed myself a new one in my wine cup. Used a bombilla (a metal straw for drinking mate and terere) to sip the water, pushing my gags back down my throat. Gradually I noticed little rust flakes appearing in my water. The inside of the bombilla was rusty.

Called Omar.
“Again with the lockjaw.”
“Stop consuming rust.”
“I know, I know.”

Sitting in my house with the early symptoms of lockjaw gradually drawing closer, the water had dried on my wall and the stain remained. A splattery, drippy mark close to the ceiling. I tossed some powdered laundry soap on the mark, scrubbed it again. Sat on my bed gazing about the wreck of my room that had been so carefully, meticulously prepared and cleaned just one day before. How did this happen? It’s all I thought about, over and over. The moral of the story? There isn’t one, I’m still too hung-over to get there.


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