Sometimes you have someone that makes you feel fully alive but you know that you’re more excited by their company than they are by yours. And then sometimes it is the other way around. Someone is wonderful. They treat you with perfect kindness and thoughtfulness and they’re brilliantly smart and sweet and yet you know that they for some crazy incomprehensible reason take more pleasure in your company than you do in theirs and it is almost too much to spend time with them because you don’t want expectations to build. It hurts both ways because that imbalance seems to always surface at the moment a connection has been forged, and so just as you are closer the blunder of this awareness begins to dispel something beautiful.
You told her she had a pretty face. I studied it. Too many Instagram filters. Too much eyeliner. I don’t think you ever said anything about my face. I think I had paid you all the compliments, hundreds like raindrops over your skin, I washed you clean. I left you emptied. Vulnerable. Vacant. Anyone could move in. I had to leave. You left first.
I should have gone to brunch.
I could hardly look at him. I stalled in my car. I stalled in the bathroom. My glasses were off so he could see my eyes but I couldn’t see the carpet at my feet. Silence. I’m not much into small talk especially when my head is loud. Meticulously observe every billboard to Broadway. We pull up to a bar with a cowboy singing and we drink and we drink and we talk. Now we are talking a lot. “You were a bartender. Make me something special I’ve never had.” I skipped ahead. It’s late now. Gin, cucumber, tonic water, lottery tickets, a swim. He has high arches. I have slender feet. I think he touches me for the first time. The couple leave. Back in the room we are both wet and I already made a mess with my things. He is a perfect gentleman, he helps me out of my suit. It has been a long time and my usual patience is gone. I want to be swallowed up like a shot. I want it to hurt and leave marks so that I know that I was here and it really happened. I want to be in one of his stories.
I’m 30. If you cut that in half I’m 15 and I’m reading loads of ghost stories and riding my bike everywhere in a little town. I’m running track and I’ve never kissed a boy. Five years later I’m in college and I’m kind of a slut and I’m depressed and I go to bars and I sit on the porch and play chess with my friend while smoking cigarette after cigarette. Five years later I’m in Korea and teaching, and I get really lonely and I go for runs past the factories and to the water that connects to China and is slightly yellow and smells like rotting fish. Five years later here I am, in school again, and I’m alone again, and I’m smoking again and I’m wondering what is next.