Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cliffs Notes version: #MeToo, me three, me four, five, six, seven ate nine

I’ve written before about a personal experience involving sexual assault, how convoluted and confusing ignored consent can feel to women even after we’ve vocalized a shrugged off “No,” several times. I’m still not so sure what to call what happened to me that night, what name to give it, as though the proper, violent terminology may split open the soft parts of my skull, paralyzing me for good and for gone. I sometimes don’t think I’m capable of handling certain aspects of my own lived reality.

For all of my put-on self-respect and faux-strength, the truth is this: I still somehow default on defensive when I think of that night, as though the guy in question deserves understanding and compassion, like some of the blame — his inability to just fucking stop — really does fall to me. I don’t like to be conditioned this way, but it’s too painful to think in black-and-white when you can’t quite accept the totality of what the truth might mean just yet.

I rushed through a post about it for a writing workshop, surprised at how quickly the piece came together. I peppered it with humor before the big reveal, hoping it'd make anyone reading it feel similarly disarmed by the end. (And praise be to that monthly meet-up for helping me work through the worst parts of my short history.) It wasn’t the first time I’ve been violated and, comparatively, it wasn’t so bad — though perhaps it’s unfair to qualify any kind of abuse as Worse Than.

Almost immediately after I hit ‘post’ to my ugly and outdated blog, my inbox was flooded with texts from my women friends, some who I hadn’t spoken to in years. They worked on emotional overdrive at the outset, as women often do: “I’m so sorry that happened,” “What a piece of shit,” “Are you okay?” “I’ll kill him.”

It was overwhelming and, admittedly, too much, so I padded my responses with humor and feigned apathy, just the way I’d written my post, the way I often navigate the world. I felt deep pangs of regret then, wishing I could go back to where I lived before that public revelation of assault, wishing my mother could unlearn how unkind the world could sometimes be to her kid.

Only two of the many men in my life bothered to acknowledge I’d written anything at all — though I imagine Facebook’s dubious algorithm and a blanket indifference to my often lengthy walls of text may have had something to do with it, too.

One of them asked me about it directly, in person. He appeared concerned, and I felt guilty then, for inflicting this Major Moment on someone who didn’t need or want to know me so intimately. His face was soft and sad, and I felt bad, like it was my fault someone had voluntarily read something stupid I’d written. So I started in on the emotional recoup, on rebuilding the cement higher around my destroyed cell.

I deflected with bullshit nothings: “It happens to a lot of people, it’s not a big deal.” This has become my favorite diversion tactic — things could’ve gone worse and they have, for some. But he refused that narrative: “It does happen to a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay.” He was right, even if I never want to admit when men are right.

He told me he wasn’t sure how to feel by the end of my post, that I’d been seemingly flippant about something that, on paper, seemed textbook traumatic. I don’t remember the exact wording — I was as drunk at the time as I need to be these days when dealing with my darkest memories — so maybe I’m misremembering part of the conversation.

But I took those confused feelings as a compliment, as though my writing had successfully conveyed the warring narratives that fight to exist inside my brain when talking about this very specific instance of sexual violence. Because, even now, I have the same question he did back then — how the fuck am I supposed to feel about all this?

I think on it now and I feel like a coward. For the way I handled it when it happened, for the way I'm still writing about it now, for waiting until 1AM to post this. I feel guilty for feeling guilty, for making this so public, for making other people feel uncomfortable with my words.

I should make one thing clear, though: I don’t fault anyone who failed to reach out to me. Maybe you didn’t know or know what to say, maybe any contact would’ve seemed further invasive. I likely would’ve laughed it off, anyway, because I can only exhibit so much vulnerability before I shut down again. I am just as bad at endings at Stephen King is, so I guess I'll end this here. Just know that it happens and that it sucks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

best friends means

I have applied one of my favorite Joan Didion quotes to several frivolous losses over the years — the time Zayn quit One Direction, the time One Direction disbanded, every time Harry Styles released a garbage piece of disappointing new solo music — because I so often shirk vulnerability, trade it in for a cheap laugh, instead.

But I’ll use it in earnest now, because — like Didion’s beloved Nancy — my best friend, Romeo, is dead. “I close the box and put it in a closet," she writes. "There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.”

There are things you should know that will likely change your reading of this, depending on your own personal levels of sympathy and compassion in regards to pets: Romeo was a cat. He was my cat. He lived with my family, but he was mine. I knew him for 12 years, which isn’t even half of my life but somehow feels like all of it.

Romeo – so sweet he eventually developed diabetes – was born atop a wood pile in New Jersey, a fact my mother has repeated often over the years. He was the last of his litter to be adopted, a truth I’ll never understand, that someone could look into his orb-like eyes, so innocent and good, and still leave without him. 

But lucky me, my mother’s weakness persisted, despite several declarations there'd be "No more pets!!!" I was 17 when Romy came home and there we were, instantly bonded. This backfired only one time, when he caught and mutilated a giant cockroach and presented it to my sleeping body, littering the sheets around me with tiny fragments of bug. "Here," he seemed to say. "I did this for you." It was traumatic, but it was proof: Romeo loved me most of all.

I spent the majority of my time at home with him, the most gentle thing I’d ever met. He was so opposite the way I’d come to know the world — volatile, hostile, bleak. Romeo was warm, affectionate, genuine, kind. Maybe this is boring human projection and he simply was. But he was the only member of my family I actively missed when I left for college. I know he missed me, too.

I knew Romeo was sick months before the illness showed itself to everyone else. There were subtle changes in his demeanor easy to miss if your entire world fails to revolve around your cat. I do not blame my family for this. After all, I am the one who brings him up on first dates, which is probably why there are so few second ones. 

He once weighed more than our Thanksgiving turkey, but then the cancer came on quick and he dwindled down to nothing. It is too easy to lift him now. 

I used to make a point of telling people we were meant to be buried, to ascend to whatever afterlife could possibly exist, together. This is dark and depressing and obsessive in a way that is, to so many, unhealthy and gross, but I meant it every time I said it, because I always hoped I'd die first. I was so sure Romeo had a good 8 years left in him, and I don't see myself living past 35. Without Romeo here with me, I don't really see a shift toward the positive coming anytime soon.

So it is that I say goodbye to my closest friend, my beloved Romy. I'm so sorry we couldn't save you. You were supposed to live forever.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

insert questionable robin thicke lyrics here

Tall brunette creatives with a penchant for self-inflicted poverty — the romantic kind of poor, reserved for artists with trust funds and parental enablement — and a tendency toward overt emotional instability and maladjustment once made my heart go pitter-patter at a speed that cruised violently close to cardiac arrest. But that was before I consciously went against type, after years of going no where, in an attempt to abandon infatuation and fall for real. I did, eventually, trip down love’s thankless, empty chasm, once I finally gave up the ghost, but this isn’t that story. And thank god it’s not — may I never unravel like that again.

This one takes place in a bar, by the water, and then in my bed. It was humid and early July when I agreed to meet a guy whose app location indicated he was 300 miles away. "Do you live on the moon?" I asked. "No," he said.

I’m not so sure I believe in serendipity, but he happened to suggest we get a drink at a bar on my block, so I took that as some sort of otherworldly sign: He sensed where I lived so maybe he was magic. It turns out instead that I am dangerously forthcoming on social media, but I found his invasive tendencies charming because he was beautiful, in print and in person.

We met and we drank; the conversation doesn’t matter. I only remember his name when I strain for it, nearly a full year later, but he was dreamy and impressive in the way men are impressive when you've never been in love — he had that unyielding frenetic energy that acted as a me-magnet before I understood the limits and shortcomings of unhinged perma-passion. His hands were everywhere, all at once.

He brought me to the waterfront after I paid for our drinks, and he told me I was weird before he pulled up my Twitter account on his phone. I was unbothered by this mild revelation of light stalking, which he explained away with a wink and his hand on my thigh. He could have flayed me alive with a butter knife then, peeled off the thin top layer of my skin in one lengthy transparent sheet, and I would’ve stayed still for it all, if only he’d asked. His eyes were very green; I would never judge Ted Bundy's victims.

He made us listen to a Justin Bieber/Slipknot mashup, a song I haven't stopped talking about for over six years. I would like "Psychosocial Baby" to be played at my wedding and again at my funeral, at all funerals, at every christening and baptism and wake. I want to watch New York City plummet into the ocean as Bieber's prepubescent vocals are superseded by Corey Taylor's guttural screams, the track blaring from the mega-speakers across the sea at Jersey’s Prudential Center. The song and its unofficial music video are seven minutes long, but we watched the whole thing together in erotic silence. I think quite often about who will take it hardest when I die.

Likely emboldened by that unencumbered sonic bliss and my clear willingness to ignore my own gut instinct to flee, my date then dove into a detailed plot description of Nekromantic, a 1987 German exploitation film where a man fucks corpses and bathes in his own cat’s blood to deal with the fact that his father killed his pet rabbit long ago. We all cope with trauma in different ways, after all. At one point, the male lead watches a horror movie which makes the film very meta and smart.

Before revealing its end to me, my date paused and laughed and then he kissed me, pulled me onto his lap and kept kissing me. I let him do this.

Would you like to know how Nekromantik ends? Well, OK, here: Our protagonist is an inconsolable necrophiliac who ultimately stabs himself just as he ejaculates one final time, which is very romantic. We should all be so lucky to die doing what we love most.

“I didn’t think you’d let me kiss you if I told you how the movie ended first,” my date told me later, though he was wrong. Someday I will not need to feel wanted.

We walked back to my apartment after making out on a bench I haven't sat on since. He held my hand the entire way home. I think that was my favorite part.

Things accelerated from there, once in my room. No one needs the gritty details, though I am inclined to give them anyway. He didn't have a condom, so he asked if I was on birth control and trusted when I told him yes. This is because women never lie.

I realized too late I didn’t want him to fuck me anymore, but I don’t always know how to say no. I found my voice that night, but it was too quiet in the end. It’s like he went deaf right before he pushed inside me, as though all the blood had rushed so far away from his face that it left a violent ringing in his ears loud enough to drown out my meager objections.

And it's important to note my NOs were weak and lifeless, coupled only with some tenuous physical protests that ultimately petered out. I felt like a 33-year-old cat, made of dust and molasses, and I probably looked worse, as I pawed pathetically at his hands. “No, no, it’s OK,” he mumbled, offering definitive proof of his newfound selective hearing. I did say some of those words, after all.

I gave in then, but it wasn't because he was strong or scary or mean — I still wanted him to like me; I didn't want him to leave.

What he wanted was an artisanal hot dog, he told me, moments after he came, and Crif Dogs was only open for another 20 minutes. When he left my apartment — "It was nice meeting you. I had fun," he noted — I checked their site and saw they’d closed an hour earlier.

Some stories don't have an ending, and this one lives eternally inside my brain, where the unsavory bits and pieces resurface when I'd like to remember them least. Whenever I retell it, I launch into writer-mode, editing the ending to avoid becoming a burden. I guess I'll have to stop talking about it now.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare

Last night I dreamt I was putting lotion on my legs in an attempt to soften their natural sandpaper finish, but giant mosquitoes kept landing all across my limbs, where they struggled and then drowned in the thick goop. 
It reminded me of that peculiar lie Disney helped perpetuate via their Oscar-winning documentary, 'White Wilderness.' In it, a hysterical group of lemmings purportedly commits suicide by hurling themselves off a cliff, plunging violently to the icy sea below. The doc claims this is commonplace for these saddest of creatures, but actually, it is not.
Anyway, I woke up and immediately recalled the time I was at a restaurant in beautiful, overcast Milan, where I sat down to a plate of pizza -- only to discover tiny fruit flies slowly and painfully drowning to their deaths in, around and beneath hearty slices of mozzarella. Please do not be jealous of my brain or of my life, both so rich with drama and experience.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

since feeling is first

There’s a scene in this year’s season of terrible trash reality show The Bachelorette where the emotionally stunted JoJo Fletcher cuts ties with the aptly named singer-songwriter James Taylor. The persona James crafted onscreen is one of a kind, loving, decent man -- the simple, marrying type. You are the total package. You'll make some girl very happy someday, JoJo tells him in too many words, her eyes wet with fake Visine tears. You're just not what I'm looking for.

You expect the cameras to cut there, or for James to maintain his dignity, maybe get angry. He looks at JoJo instead, in all his sad-sack deflation, and softly says, “The sad truth is, I hear that a lot. And I’m like.. when? When am I finally going to find her?”

This is typical reality TV fare, a standard romantic trope realized in messy, public fashion. Just because someone checks all the boxes doesn’t mean they fit into the complicated chasm of your life. But the vulnerability is legitimate. There is no faking a wound that deep -- it's as though JoJo stabbed James with a freshly sharpened machete, plunged it deep inside his chest cavity and pulled out the fleshy innards. It is too much to watch, their final embrace. It's true that The Bachelorette offers an unrealistic fairytale to both its participants and its viewership, but James Taylor's loss still stings.

A few weeks ago, I met a guy so far removed from my typical tragic type that I couldn’t remember why I’d swiped right on him in the first place. Tall, good-looking, kind, funny, smart, insightful, Australian. These are all adequate descriptors, and they are applicable to the side of him I came to know over the course of our seven-week whatever-it-was. But those adjectives fail to offer the total spectrum of what he became to me, in all his specific nuances and quirks, and they don't make a convincing case for the sorrow I've been steeped in since losing him. I am doing his character a lazy disservice.

I didn’t feel fireworks upon our initial encounter. There was no lightbulb moment, no explosive realization of compatibility, of Forever. There was, instead, total ease, comfort, warmth. Talking to him was like an overdue exhalation, like a soft hum. I felt no need to affect a more impressive version of myself that first night or the rest that followed, because -- at long last -- I was enough.

On our second date he walked me home from Manhattan, across the Williamsburg Bridge. He stopped short at one point, pulled me in and kissed me. We stayed entangled in each other for a while. His hands, tough and calloused from biking the lengths of the city, spanned the imperfections of my body, the tangled bird's nest of my hair. We were fully ensconced in the physicality of our mutual attraction, forever trying to pull the other closer. When he suggested we continue on, he put his arm around my waist and I sighed into him. It hadn't lasted long enough for me; these things never do.

Seconds later he paused again, incredulous, and said, "We're not even at the halfway point!? I stopped because I thought there was cause for celebration."

I let out one of my ugliest cackles then -- an unpleasant, grotesque noise, like a seal cracking its skull against the wall of a small tank -- and I put my hand over my mouth, embarrassed by how much space in the world I took up. It was one of a small handful of times I felt self-conscious with him. But.

"I like your laugh," he told me. "You're quite smiley for a New Yorker."

It was only true when I was around him. That was my firework moment.

"You're going to hate that bridge when you never hear from him again," my mother told me, two days later. She was right; I hope it falls.

Somehow, things continued on. Our similarly long work hours made way for late-night meet ups that lasted far longer than they should have, considering his early mornings. He sacrificed sleep to see me, but we all have different priorities.

He was funny, though his friends didn't think so. On our third date, he drew a cartoon dog on a card, slid it across the table to me and told me to keep it, joked that I should add it to the bedroom shrine I'd constructed in his honor. I admitted to having Googled him. He has virtually no Internet footprint.

In between dates I was an over-analytical mess. I will never be a detached cool-girl, my wiring is set to insecure and neurotic -- I keep track of the time between texts, the days without contact. He is not a drug dealer but owns a flip phone, which does not make for fast and constant communication, so we barely spoke between meet ups. I questioned his interest in me, I wondered how someone so good, so total, could really see me and still want to keep seeing me. 

But he did. "I like kissing you," he told me, more than once. Our physical chemistry was intoxicating, all-enveloping, at times too much. We often waited until the tail-end of the date to kiss, because once we started it was near-impossible to stop. I am sorry to those who drank near us, to anyone reading this now.

Things never quite progressed to sex, but he was hardly chaste in the way he touched me. He pulled me onto his lap at a West Village bar, put his hand up my dress, made me feel desired without having to say the words. He went down on me in the middle of West 4th Street on a self-dare, channeling a kind of recklessness he wasn't used to.

"I never do things like that," he said with surprise, each successive date later, "I still can't believe I did it."

Every time he walked me home, we'd make out in front of my building until the guy who parks his car in the lot next door would drop by to feed the stray cats around 2AM. It became a small inside joke: "I bet that guy is wondering where we are." I hope I never see him again.

Our taste in music didn't overlap, but he insisted on introducing me to the repetitive world of ambient electronic music. He made it sound poetic, appealing, meaningful. And to him, I guess it was. The fact that I -- an adult woman who has seen the now-defunct boyband One Direction live 20 times -- even attempted to understand his deep appreciation for a genre I will forever define as esoteric video game bleeps and bloops speaks volumes to how much I liked him and wanted him to like me back.

But he was right, a total of one time -- I connected with a single song, and I wrote up a short blurb about it for work. He was flattered, texted me two days later to tell me he'd sought it out on his own and re-read it. He said he loved it, that he thought I really got it.

He did this a few times, alluded to thinking about me in the interim. He said he wondered whether 'Ali' was short for a longer name and came up with two possible options, though both were wrong. He said he brought up my work site to his friend, asked if she'd heard of it. He said he'd clicked on a Kardashian story there, knowing he'd see my name next to it. He told me about the times he considered texting me but ultimately decided against it. The buttons on his phone were so small, after all.

He was attentive and present in a way I don't even expect from my closest friends. His memory was sponge-like -- he made sense of me, in all my inarticulate, scatter-brained inelegance and remembered every single thing I told him in vivid detail. I thought it was evidence of significant interest, the painstaking way he listened to my bullshit spillings over, as though he gave a flying fuck about who I was at my core. I am not used to being heard. I realize now it's more likely he has a good memory.

He showed me his parents' house on Google Earth, gave me a virtual tour of his hometown, Bendigo. It was charming and sweet, and offered some small town backstory, though he gave plenty of himself to me as it was. I told him Australia looked like South Jersey.

One night, he discovered he'd left his keys at his office back in Manhattan. I offered to reschedule but, undeterred by the possibility of a stolen bike, he insisted on seeing the evening through to its end. He warned me he'd have to leave by 11 to ride back into the city and then home again, but he stayed with me until 1 AM. I really thought he liked me.

We continued to see each other, but like a bed of sloths wading through a vat of melted tar, things progressed at a glacial pace. At one point I brought this up, said I'd like to see him more often. He said sure, we'd get together whenever we both had the time. But I felt something shift, an unease in his demeanor I mistakenly chalked up to as surprise, at the time.

"Did I just fuck everything up by saying that? Did I scare you off?" I asked him.

"No, of course not. This doesn't change how I feel," he lied, like a liar. "And besides, you should never not say something in fear of scaring someone off. Never demand less than what you feel you deserve."

He did this often, spun my negatives into positives in a way that skirted the edge of condescension without ever quite landing there. He made me feel good about myself without expecting anything in return.

He reassured me with a kiss. Then he kissed me again. He ended things a week later.

I picked a bar with a pool table for what became our final date, because early on he'd told me he played in a league when he lived overseas years ago. "Get ready to be stunned," he texted back.

I got to the bar first, and was immediately struck with a precognitive, weighted sadness, like every person I'd ever known and loved had dropped dead all at once. I still feel that way now.

Conversation was easy, as it always was -- we talked about death, nightmares, travel. He taught me how to play pool, succeeded in giving me one more pleasant memory of Us, one final thing to invoke his memory every time I see it: A pool table, present at the vast majority of average, shitty dive bars that pepper my ugly neighborhood.

He offered to walk me home after, and we paused at a real estate office to gawk at the absurdly high prices. It costs too much to live in New York City.

As an unobservant sack of shit clearly unable to read the room, I took that moment -- seemingly lighthearted and playful -- to invite him to my birthday.

"I think we need to talk," he said, and everything stopped short around me.

"We're a good match," he continued, gun cocked straight at my chest. "Not a great one."

Before I continue on, let me paint a picture of the inside of my brain for you. You live in The Sadlands. The weather: perpetually 98% humidity combined with a light mist. The embarrassing spoken-word part from that one Halsey song plays on loop at all times. You do not own a pet because they begin to slowly suffocate to death upon arrival and you are forced to watch. Soylent Green is people. You have never felt happiness because you live in a trash heap filled with rat feces and dead bears and you work in an underground sewer that exposes you to lethal doses of radiation everyday. To get to work each morning you must walk down a street littered with shards of glass and withered husks of skin. Your shoes are made of felt. You always walk it alone.

One day, someone shows up and asks if he can anchor himself inside you and you agree - equal parts desperate and curious. Things quickly change; the clouds part. Your setting becomes Disneyland, New York City, the suburbs of Wyoming - whatever makes you happiest. And the best part is you're no longer alone! There is a multitude of shared happiness that fills your heart until it feels swollen to near-eruption.

And then, some time later, it bursts. Your heart has been skewered and you are bleeding out. Your lungs have been punctured; they're filling with blood; you're drowning. Your world descends into the before, but it is suddenly worse than the before, because he leaves with parts of you that you'll never get back. Your world is worse than chaos because it is still and because you're aware.

He said wonderful things to me then, as I stood there in silence, mouth agape like a dead fucking fish. It's as though his mental thesaurus had landed on the word 'special' and he applied every fitting synonym he could think of to me to compensate for breaking my heart. Rare, unique, uncommon, he called me before moving on to the banal: funny, smart, interesting, charming. Great conversations. He said I made him feel comfortable in a way that was atypical for him. That I had a calming presence. That from the moment he met me, he felt at ease. That he was shy around most people, but never around me. That he hadn't felt a connection this strong in a while. That no matter how tired he was from work, he looked forward to seeing me each week.

Everything he said he felt about me sounded like the beginning of real romantic affection. His sudden dismissal of whatever we had made no sense, though I recognize feelings seldom do.

I tried to turn on the analytical part of my brain, pinpoint his disinterest. I asked him what it was about me that was so wildly unappealing it warranted undoing the past two months we'd shared. I wanted to hate him.

"There are so many appealing things about you," he responded. "I can't think of a single unappealing one.

"I genuinely believe you're a total catch," he continued, before skewering my heart with a rusty butterknife. "Just... for someone else."

At points I tried to appear detached. But anytime I attempted coolness, cruelty ("I don't need you to touch me," I snapped, as he tried for physical comfort when his words failed to land) I immediately regretted it. None of it was his fault. None of it was mine. He just didn't want me anymore.

We talked for an hour, and it devolved into repetition: How wonderful I was, how rare, how special, how unique. Like a fucking Chupacabra. How I should call all the shots in my dating life because I am so great, so incredible. How he didn't understand why I'd ever been ghosted. How he's probably looking for something or someone who doesn't exist. How, unlike him, I'm not hopeless and will find someone deserving of my affection. He failed to understand that I had.

I chalked it up to my appearance. I am not beautiful, I cannot even fake pretty, but at least I am aware. That, I could understand. But: "I find you very attractive," he said, when I asked if the problem was my face. I wanted to stick both thumbs far into his eye sockets and press down, hard. 

Words are hollow when the proof of their validity is eternally pending. How wicked to be told several wonderful, poetic things about your character from someone who matters to you, only to have your actual self-perception — weighted with negativity and self-loathing — realized time and again, instead? To be awakened to the reality that you, in all your complicated multitudes, may never be the right fit for anyone, no matter how you try and shrink yourself down.

He said he was tempted to keep seeing me each week, that he enjoyed our conversations and my company so much he could've kept things going for a while. But that it wouldn't be fair to me. That I would eventually realize he wasn't worth it, and by then it would be too late. It was a very elaborate excuse to get out of my birthday party.

He made declarative statements that weren't true: "You're angry." "You're upset with me." "You're pissed."

I wanted to be, and I'm sure he wanted it, too. I prefer volatility, an ignition of volcanic emotion that helps you burn faster through the sorrow. I wish I'd touched him with scalding fingers, rendered him black ash. But I just wanted him to hold me, to take it all back. I wanted him to stay.

"I'm not upset with you," I told him, and I wasn't. "I'm just sad." 

He walked me the rest of the way home, insisted on holding my hand while he did it. This was his one cruelty, his refusal to let me pull away. 

Earlier he'd said he wanted to see me again, to stay friends, as though neither of us had ever wanted to fuck the other. That he didn't want to lose our specific connection. I want to believe this, because it lends significant validity to all the decent things he said about me. That I am rare, unique, special, worthy and deserving of the kind of love I'll probably never find. I feel the same way about him, he's unlike anyone I've ever met. But I have enough friends.

When we got to my door, he held me too tightly for far too long. I asked him again if he genuinely wanted to keep in painful, platonic touch and he was adamant, "Of course I do."

"I don't know if I can do that," I told him, as quietly as I could. "But I'm really going to miss you."

"Then I'll see you soon, yeah?" Probably not.

I can no longer walk around my own neighborhood without remembering everywhere he touched me. Even the waterfront, a former source of comfort for me, elicits heavy grief. We sat together there once for hours, and he was vulnerable and revealing to the point of nakedness. It felt like a significant unburdening at the time; I'm no longer sure he felt the same.

The specifics of our beginning are mostly lost on me now, nearly two months later. Part of me is sorry I didn't write any of it down. Another part begs for amnesia spanning the dates I knew him. A final part wishes I were dead. 

But toward the end of our very first date he pulled away, mid-make out, looked at me and asked softly, "What do you want?" I wasn't sure what he meant, but I surprised myself with the answer. 

"You," is what I wanted to say, "All of you." 

But it was too soon to admit that to someone I'd spent a mere five hours with, so I kissed him instead. It didn't matter in the end, because he didn't want me, anyway. Not in the way I wanted him.