February 23, 2017

Texting you made me feel better, my sister told me, her face a soft, pixeled glow. Once you’ve told somebody what happened, you forget how it actually was. But Elise is in Durham right now, and I – I have always wanted to be practical, a quick study who knows what he wants and does what is necessary to have it, no hang-ups along the way. The process, I imagine, should be simple: look around, decide, take the first step and then the second, a few each day. Spend the rest of your time having adventures, preferably with the people you love or want to love, or reading a book you’d like to be seen reading, maybe in some unconventional spot. A study Bible, anywhere, even in a church, or The Communist Manifesto at a country club, or an obviously pornographic romance in the stateliest university library. (You know the sort of romance I mean, because the bare chests on their covers have caught your eye and you’ve regretted that but wished you could bring yourself to buy one all the same.) I have also wished I were touchable, the kind of person who loves to cuddle and doesn’t mind sleeping in his friends’ beds when he stays over too late or drinks too much, or both. But I find that even on the most comfortable first dates, after battering at some stranger’s walls with the usual arsenal of tireless prying questions – or, if that doesn’t work, demolishing my own with a spectacularly self-sabotaging confession – part of me hopes they will forget to kiss me goodbye. I almost dread the feeling of their hand on mine. Would it cause him more or less distress, I wonder, if I were to flash him instead of divulging over calamari that last night – a Monday night – I stared at the wall for three uninterrupted hours before turning off my phone, eating an entire bag of Bugles, and then going to sleep on the floor to avoid my too-short bed? (Yes, they have Bugles here, and if they didn’t I would probably have ordered them on Amazon because they are perfect for devouring in large quantities at inappropriate times.) I often say things like this in a rush – even the part in parenthesis – after just a few sips of wine. My logic is not clear. Possibly, I hope that if I am able to prove right away my incredible openness through frank, lawless conversation and a stubborn commitment to ugly (but never pretty or unexciting) truths, these men will fail to notice later on that I am not open and in fact have trouble being held.

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