on learning to like after you

green eyes has good teeth,

i should’ve been a dentist, he jokes.

seat mere feet from seat, four palms

two occupied with frosty clinking glasses,

(no salt on yours, he says, freeing one palm with a grin)

he takes off his rimmed glasses and wipes them,

“you look nice without those,” i say, he smiles.

your eyes were brown indoors and hazel in the sun,

your legs were short,

your shoulders, your gaze

cast towards your small quick feet,

your words sped when our tension thickened,

sludge-like with the absence of words until

our bodies found their ways to separate places.


Feelings best translate to the nightmarish segment of a childhood funhouse, the tunnel right before the end, it revolves in an ongoing circular motion, and through it you scamper like a gerbil in a wheel, attempting to remain upright on your two frantically blinking light-up sneakers, but the omnipotent presence of gravity trumps all. There’s an immense O-shaped beam of sunlight pouring through and perhaps your mother or friends or somebody is flinging a wrist left and right, casting a frivolous beam of laughter up at the skies, oh she’s so precious, look she can’t walk right!

Feelings best translate to the contrast between emotions upon placing Piketty’s Capital in my shopping cart on Amazon, and struggling past the first ten pages. Tackling Capital seemed like a remarkable idea until I realized my lack of time, patience, and intelligence. Feelings are my useless economics degree, and you are a 600-page Amazon bestseller. But you could be any book, really; you could be Harry Potter and I’d be both the robe-clad girl in line for Barnes and Noble at midnight, and the bible-thumper who thought Voldemort to be satan. You’d be Twilight and I, both the twihard and the English professor raising my nose at lowbrow literature; the soccer mom flitting through Fifty Shades, and the Jezebel columnist condemning its misogynistic nature. Through and through, you are the book, demand exceeding supply and comfortably nestled at the top of all lists.

Feelings are necessary and you are the sufficient; if it were diagrammed, it would parallel a logical reasoning argument like the ones on the LSAT. If I went to class, then I got out of bed. Getting out of bed is necessary, going to class is sufficient. If I think of you often, sometimes with no clothes on, sometimes with your lips on mine, sometimes with your arm around me or just even doing none of those things and talking, smiling, laughing, showing each other the things we know the other would like, and then maybe kissing on the lips and each other’s necks and quietly giggling about how nobody else would ever guess that this thing could be ours, then I have feelings. Feelings are necessary, you are sufficient, and perhaps one day those dizzying feelings will dissipate at last. After all, you are the latter half of an admissions test diagram, you are the wheel that challenged me against gravity, you are the geekonomics summer must-read I couldn’t handle. Because some things that once felt so radically innate, like asking to spend time with you, suddenly place me at odds with the bare bones of nature’s power itself, as though gravity is gracelessly rolling me off my rubber soles.

Oh god, oh dear god. I’m going to die alone, says the twenty-year old exuding word vomit from behind the safety-wall of plastic keys and pixels and Google Chrome and Cranberries-themed Pandora playlists

I’m going to die alone, she mutters, not surrounded by cats as every self-pitying female laments in her qualms to go with a glass of wine (box of Franzia?), but by ladies who wove back her hair when she fell to rock bottom, by men who gave her quick, friendly pats on both shoulders and voiced their faith in her strength. Words of promise were uttered but never once was promise delivered, she mourns from the bottom of a pit of self-pitying cynicism.

There’s a type, some sort of it quotient that drives women mad in a particular man, woman, significant other. A highly credible internet time-burning article claims that chocolate not only boosts sex drive, but that it in fact mimics the feeling of love itself; bite after bite, this is love.

She’s going to die alone, she mutters once again, her mother spearheading the memorial and waving banners that summon you, you, and you; friends of friends and acquaintances of those friends because the world is weeping in your loss, she’d say, everyone loves you too much. 

A death by too much love, alas love that was never met from both directions. Bite.

In high school English, her teacher used to draw calculated diagrams of romance in Victorian Literature, the way eye contact between two individuals attracted to one another would be a gravitational pull of communication more powerful than the tectonic plates themselves. That’s what constitutes romance, isn’t it? Locked visions, locked thoughts, unison. Novelist Chuck Palahniuk once said something along the lines of that those who love you, and those who you love, never quite align.

She says I’ve seen Victorian eye sex though, as English teachers and giggly nervous tenth graders called it.  Relationships and mutual love manifested in ways other than airy, flavorless Skinny Cow wafers because Hershey’s was sabotaging the slender waistline that he– that purely hypothetical he— could hypothetically love so much. I’ve seen shoulders squeezed and embraced and lips locked and hope explode and I wonder, just wonder, why crazy old Chuck was right about me and nobody else.

And ultimately she laments dying loved, surrounded by instilled faith vaporizing from the upper left ribcage cavities of those who loved her, and the lovers of her lovers, and even their lovers too, and their hope and faith in her could rise to the heavens but it would remain meretricious, flimsy verbose if in her passing, she had never understood how the Victorians did it anyways.

Oh god, oh dear god. I’m going to

my mind is a perpetual reel of subpar justifications; it tells me i want the impossible, the foreign, the extraneous. love is that. love is all of that, and thus the far back reciptacles of my mind murmur that maybe, just maybe romance is the key to happiness after all.

the other thing my mind is, is a hypersensitive communicator of waves to whatever it is that my heart is, anyways. sound waves. light waves. phrases. the meritricious drop of some pulsating automated beat. brief glimpses of faces without glasses. the chord progression of a song that lets my heart do that little pancake flip– my beating lump of aunt jemima’s, sloppily rotating mid-cavity in this scantily dressed, decorated cadaver. beauty’s in the small things, in the way a few notes go, the way you’d tap my shoulder some mornings at breakfast and i’d turn, and you’d already be along your merry way. i saw you diana, you ignored me again?

you’re something like perfect, if i squint hard enough, you’re promising and delightful and witty and thoughtful; everything i’d ever hoped for in a guy. it happened once; my back against your chest, your arms holding onto my waist, you’d grab my hand and twirl me around and i felt unstoppable, your eyes hadn’t left mine once; i felt beautiful and unstoppable; other boys had tried to dance with me that night but nobody was quite like you, nobody. and our fingers intertwined and i brought my lips up to your face and you turned away and uttered no, i know i’d been out of line james, i’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry. i’m sorry she’s not a computerized image. i’m sorry i’d acted the way i did. i’m sorry the first time i’d ever actually felt perfectly at ease with a guy was with you. i’m sorry.

it’s the way those notes progress too, that goddamn song makes me so goddamn giddy, i’d posted it on facebook and you’d liked it a week later– if you find yourself caught in love, that’s what the song was called. i could never say i’m in love with anyone; i’m in love with the intangible, and the intangible is the idea of you, it’s the idea of anyone, it’s the idea that love is the one thing i’ve never tried and butchured, and therefore maybe it’s the key to happiness. right?

we drove back north on the turnpike the next morning, my vehicle x miles ahead of yours, behind yours. it’s funny how in new jersey, it’s illegal to pump your own gasoline. do you find that funny?

we waited at a rest stop, your eyes diverted from mine. i diverted mine from yours. i just want to know, don’t you find it hilarious that new jersyians can’t pump their own gas? isn’t it just a goddamn fucking riot? won’t you answer me please?

this is not a computerized image, this is in fact my girlfriend, you said. mike’s hard lemonade in one hand — although you’d mocked the others for drinking mike’s hard– cell phone in the other. she was the screen before you’d slide your lock code in, the first image that would show up on your phone.

are you drunk yet? you’re not drunk enough yet. you’re still too sober. have another.

we did.

if you’re going off to war, well i’m sorry love, but don’t be sore if i cheer the other team, ’cause killing people’s not my scene.

phone slid back into his pocket, and he set down his drink to wipe his glasses. but you’re so damn adorable without your glasses; that scene from a wrinkle in time popped into my head. i used to love that book. he found her beautiful without her glasses; don’t let them see you with your glasses off, he said.

he looked up. can you see from across the room? i snapped my head in the opposite direction.

he looked down.

i feel like i crave love as a response to the fact that i’ve done nothing but perpetually let myself down. i crave love because every relationship i have is a duty to fulfill and satisfy another. when i was eleven, i’d made a pact with myself to diminish my voice and obey every word my mother ever told me, not because mothers knew best, but because it was the only way i would be able to survive peacefully in the house. that to be her alliance, and earn her love, i had to disregard my views of who was right and wrong in the house, and focus solely on supporting her, agreeing with her, conforming to her ideals and expectations for me, because otherwise i had nobody to love me. my friendships have done little; i know so few individuals who i can open up to and trust; even fewer who can discuss whatever i’d opened up to them about. somehow, i convince myself that falling in love will resolve this. and i know i’m wrong. it’s completely illogical. but i crave the intangible– i only just threw away the pamphlets from my dream college halfway into my sophomore year. i dream of mediocre men with girlfriends, and thigh gaps that look unhealthy, and the bland universe of sex appeal and female objectification. i want to be loved, regardless of at what cost, but i’m terrified of love. i walk an asymptotal line with it; dance in tissue-thin shirts that show the brown and black detailing of my latest victorias secret purchase, but cower away if you text too much, facebook too much, talk too much.

you are security. you are safe, i asked you to hold onto my id that night and you did, we walked back with your arm around the small of my waist, my head on your shoulder, the last of a buzz eschewing profanities out of our mouthes at the other teams as we laughed. and we laughed, hearty hiccups from the depths of the crevices encased by our belly buttons and spinal cords, coughed up giddiness and sincerety, pressed the button and skyrocketed to the seventh floor of the hotel as bethedsa shrunk below us, the whole team coughing up joy, and as we sat on the bed, you leaned over and put your head in my lap. i don’t know why. and we just sat that way for a few minutes, he reached into his pocket and gave me back my license.

rhode island, huh?


we sat in silence, his head in my lap. i should get going, he said. we have to get going tomorrow. before the storm hits and all.

i miss you and i don’t, i’ve explained us to others and nobody gets it. it scares me knowing that what i want most is the impossible, that if you became possible, maybe i wouldn’t want you anymore.