I joined a dating app.
After all, I’m a terminally single lonely gay girl so I figured why not meet other lonely gay girls and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll all end up less lonely? It’s a pretty good idea, in theory.
… Right up until the point where I had to Pick Three Things To Describe Myself. You know, like “has a good sense of humor”, “adventurous!”, “loves kids”. Except I can’t say any of that because I have never had a sense of humor once in my life, my idea of an adventure is wearing pants out of the house, and I think children are disgusting, screaming sacks of protein and unfinished cerebral cortex best left to the care of others.
So, when faced with this particular dilemma I did what any sensible girl would do in this situation and asked my best friends how they would describe me. They had some good ideas. Warm. Intellectual. Vibrant… and the one that really stood out was “too stubborn to die.”
Too stubborn to die.
It’s hilarious, you can laugh at it, you should laugh at it because I’ve tried to kill myself three times in the last ten years– don’t ever put that on a dating profile by the way, don’t let them know you’re absolutely crazy before they get to talk to you– but it’s true. This body I inhabit is tenacious. Obstinate. Stubborn.
I was born 4 months too early and every time my mother touched me I would get so excited my heart would stop so the nurses made her stop touching me. At 3 I contracted meningitis and screamed so loud I scared off a horde of medical residents. By 10 I’d had 6 major surgeries around my cranial nerves. From puberty onward I would attempt suicide three times because I was and still am so goddamn tired. Last year I had a stroke. I was 23 and I almost died from a freak blood clot in my temporal lobe..
But here’s the kicker: none of that has managed to kill me. My heart continues beating in defiance of fate and my own free will. I’m not going anywhere any time soon. I guess I must not be allowed to.
I can’t put all of that on a dating profile, though. There’s a character limit. So I guess I’ll just have to go with “I’m reliable”.
I’m making a pb&j at midnight because I live alone and can do this kind of thing without arousing suspicion. I haven’t eaten a full meal in a week. The world has made me sick.
As always when I’m sick and tired I think of you. How it’s been almost three months since we last spoke. Almost eighteen since we kissed. How when Death came for me my mother turned you away from our doorstep and how I am glad and resentful for it. How you went from being the woman I wanted to marry to a bullet grazing my cheek en route to elsewhere. Late nights like this the scar stings. I do my best to soothe it with hamfisted metaphor and flourishes but I always fall short.
I always fall short.
I never read the letter you left on my nightstand.
But then you went and gave my mother a card for me in the wake of my nearly-dying. A card full of hallmark sentiments about freedom. “You just crawled tooth and nail from your death bed but don’t you remember how I broke up with you? Aren’t you happy I let you go free?” I’m paraphrasing but that is the spirit of it and I wish I’d never read it.
Would you have said the same thing at my funeral? Eulogized not my corpse below you but our relationship? Waxed poetic about the crushing kindness you did me by breaking my heart?
As if I would allow you to speak at my funeral.
I think I understand what happened now. When your feelings fill your lungs like tar you don’t know what to do about the slow pain of drowning. You wheeze about your selflessness and sacrifice and the undying love you bear others and never manage to cough up what’s eating you.
Lucky for me I’m not dead and I only miss you like this when I’m tired and hungry. Maybe that’s what drove you away. I smother the things I love when there is no clear line at the start of no man’s land.
First come the smiles, then the lies- last is gunfire.
Here we are. Alive and full to bursting. Me with cheap metaphor and you with unspoken tar.
Tell me, how does your freedom taste?
Your sweater is a beguiling shade of sage that makes light refract in your eyes just a little bit longer, seeming just that much greener, and you will never know how much this fact upsets me. The key you dropped into my climate-controlled-office-warm palm was cold, a reminder of the storm coming down off the mountain in the middle of May and I can’t help but wonder if your hands need to be held or if you simply need a better sweater. I don’t know if I could forgive myself for changing that shade of green. Perhaps it’s just that you need to keep your hands busy– idly rubbing, gripping the seams of your jeans, flicking the topmost left wheel of a skateboard while you wonder where your income will come from this June– they never quite gather warmth despite all that nervous energy. I couldn’t forgive myself for making them still.
I devoted years of my life to a boy and he does not think of me. I could die tomorrow and he would not mark my passing but my life is changed forever for having known him. Thanks to him I love the stars, the sea, the unknown. I fear it, yes, but I love it in equal measure. Because of him I am brave. Oh the irony! I should know better than to expect so much of men.
When I think of how I lost him, how I walked away from him because I grew so weary of the hunt, it strikes me that no one– not my best friends, not my lovers, not my kin– has ever loved me for those passions and traits I hold dearest to me. No, because their eyes glaze over when I talk about those things but! They love me for the ways in which I absorb and magnify their wonderments. Is it any wonder that I am a hall of mirrors? That I’m utterly at a loss for how to make conversation when I’m not being talked to? That I do not know what to do without instruction? Maybe that is why only a precious few can stand my presence, it is only those few who can appreciate their own company. They certainly aren’t here for mine.
There are days, rare days where my lungs are enough and these are the days I live for.
The eyebright days. Sunwise curlwild mindsharp toothsome days. Days when I write too much too fast to get ink on my hands —
— but somehow rake ink stains through my hair between every sentence anyway.
When I could kiss the Sun until she shook or anyone as long as they don’t put a stop to the words that couldn’t stop if I wanted them to. Days where it doesn’t matter whether the Sun shows her face because I am shining,
burning bright enough for all of us regardless of whether I’m happy
I am Hubris and that is enough
I am enough.
Death made me
a little giddy i’ll confess
brushing past on the ballroom floor, an
accidental meeting beneath
lead crystalglass refractions,
glance that i can’t
be bothered to return because
She left me
the courage to kiss
You walk back into my office.
Entire universes live and die on the fingertips of choice.
“I feel like an asshole–”
I stop breathing. Look you in the eye for the first time in a year smell the warm denim jacket skin unscented soap crushed lavender from across the room. In the winter of your pause I am in suspended animation living the memory of my arms around your perfect waist, soft, pulling you back into bed.
You aren’t looking at me.
I’m looking past every time you said I was something that could be fixed and into a future where kickstart apologies sputter into something bruised burning wilted growing up out of ashes the way forests do after wildfires.
“– I didn’t need that appointment after all.”
The splitsecond hairsbreadth moment passes.
“If” is the biggest word in the English language.
A collection of unsent letters written 2014 – 2017.
Continue reading “it just begins to live that day”
Today keeps getting better and better and I am telling you this without an ounce of cynicism or suave sarcasm. I woke up with the sunrise and my cat’s purring vibrating the pillow beside my head. I spent fifteen minutes taking pictures of bees among spears of lamb’s ear in the hopes of making a brilliant girl smile. The sun has been the barest kiss across my skin; she’s shy this spring but I do my best to encourage her. I spent another fifteen minutes smiling my own smile like a loon because of the smell of iron and sagebrush and salt beneath clean laundry and his arm around my shoulders. I could spend all day in the sun and I would never feel quite as warm and soft as I did in that moment. If I could I’d spend the rest of the day braiding my hair with honeysuckle and the scent of Earth I caught from him but instead I’ll smile and write and keep count of the gifts people don’t seem to realize they’re giving me.
Keep talking about the false binaries between research in the candlelit recesses of the library and
the vibrancy of lived experience in academia and
the ways we might rehabilitate the way our students narrate their own lives toward endings that disrupt the systems into which they were born.
I could die happy listening to you speak.
Is this what normal people mean by “lust”?
Stop crossing your arms with your perfect posture making me want to stroke your cheek.
Stop touching my touch-starved shoulder every time we meet. It makes my heart race. There’s skin under that cardigan, don’t you know that?
Is that a birthmark at the top of your spine? Can I taste it?
I have to stop mirroring your body language but if I stop thinking about your hands I’ll stop controlling mine and I might just claw my face off.
Maybe if I make myself small you’ll overlook me or, worse,