On the night she found out that he didn’t love her, she first said goodbye to him and then walked out of the Starbucks, mostly dizzy. She then got in her car and sat very still, with the door not all the way shut. She drove home and turned the air conditioning all the way on. As she drove, she didn’t really move her focus, rather just stared at the yellow line in the middle of the black. Her headlights didn’t blink on until she was on the freeway.
When she got home, she gave her sister the green tea milkshake her boy had half finished and given to her at the coffee shop and walked into her bedroom. She sent a direct quote from the evening to her friend that she kept updated on the affair, and then got very sad, in the dark of her bedroom. She didn’t want to listen to music, or people talking, for that matter. And then she got drunk.
This solved the problem, for the most part. She remembered that she was better than a twenty year old who hits his head on cabinets and falls in love with girls that don’t see that he is absolute youth and recklessness and magic and energy. She got up and, because she was not broken, brushed her teeth, dropping her toothbrush only once.
She researched tattoos, and tried to convince herself the interest in tattoos was genuine and not just because she know the girl her boy was in love with had flash tattoos and piercings. She looked up quotes about being her ideal form, and then decided to go to the gym tomorrow, her mother’s birthday. This did not, ultimately, happen.
She hated him for looking at her breasts, and for not shaving for a couple days, and for smoking while skateboarding, her half-drunk cup of coffee in his hand. She thought about how his hair felt in her fingers, and held her right hand to her cheek.
She hated herself, and what she had done for six months exactly that night, and she hated how the worst things always seem to happen on anniversaries.
At some point, the music was turned on and she wrote some of it down. Then, the girl started to feel very, very old.
It was through observing his lifestyle that she realized the things she thought and was taught were devastating to quality of life actually mean next to nothing in the scheme of things. Tattoos have nothing to do with quality of life. They have to do with independence, and comfort in your own skin, and that has to do with overall happiness. It turns out you’re more likely to die of skin cancer than lung cancer, smoke accounted for. He had, only unintentionally, broadened her mind.
The worst part was that she found it increasingly more difficult, over the course of the coming weeks when they would wish each other farewell and she left for school, to remember the good parts about herself without him - who saw her virtues so easily - there to remind her what they were. ”
– my therapist told me to retell last thursday in a narrative format, and i liked it so much i put it on the internet.
on my flexibility
When we were kids, all pain was bad. We let our moms know about all of it. Because we were the
And our well-beings were the IMMEDIATE NEED.
As an adult, no pain is bad. All pain is negligible You still need to work to pay your rent and to eat and to stay alive. You stifle the headache, take a pill, and travel on.
Kids who have chronic illnesses when they’re young can distinctly recognize two types of pain: BAD PAIN and BENIGN PAIN.
Bad pain was what we told our parents about. Benign pain was what we stifled, because it is not the death sentence
and I do not SAY THAT LIGHTLY,
that bad pain is.
Bad pain is hell. It is fear for your life. I live in CONSTANT FEAR that benign pain will turn into bad pain.
Benign pain is like a woman with period cramps, which hurts, but for us, is not bad pain. All pain that is not BAD PAIN is negligible. So when I have a headache all day, or I step on a lego, it isn’t bad pain. It’s not scary. It is not a trip to the hospital, needles in your arms, bedpans and gowns and vomit sounds, and doctors walking in and holding yours and your mother’s hands.
When someone cancels plans with me I don’t feel my heart beating fast enough to shut my body down,
And when I’m embarrassed I’m not thirteen again, taking off all my underwear in front of twelve male medical students and doctors
And when someone insults me I don’t feel a syringe with adrenaline being inserted into my neck before I think of a response
I am a flexible person because all my pain is relative to the worst pain I have ever felt.
of course, there are millions of grey sedans
but that doesn’t mean i don’t check to see if every one i pass is yours
you see, you got your car brand new
no one had any memories in it yet
but we got to make ours there
it’s been two years and two cities and six text messages and one voicemail since
i put my box of cigarettes in your glove compartment
we kissed in the backseat
you drove me home
you kept my favorite sweatshirt of yours in the trunk for me
our work shirts in the pocket behind the driver’s seat
the spot where my lipstick
smudged on your hand
smudged on the passenger’s seat
of course, you’ve sold your car by now
new people kiss in the backseat
keep their cigarettes in the glove compartment
but you see, i still have my car
"how do you think karma works?" he said
"i’m a good person, why do bad things keep happening to me?"
he was wearing a new shirt
and was waiting for two months’ rent worth
in tax returns he deserved
in one of the most beautiful towns in the world
he said this to a girl that was falling in love with him
i’ve never missed someone as much
as i miss him when he’s not around
but i enjoy every second in a twisted, masochistic way
he would be alarmed to hear how many times a day i think of his face
and i remember how it feels to make him laugh
it makes me smile so much my cheeks hurt
believing in karma is hating those seconds
with a passion so strong
that you believe it is the universe’s fault they are painful
and not your own
he is complacent at twenty
he confuses his urges with goals
and he thinks he’s too young to die
because whenever he falls asleep, he wakes up
he thinks he’s been asleep
and expects his life to start
he is heaven
and worth every second i spend missing him
how does karma work? it doesn’t
life is not a zero-sum game
and for me
those seconds with him
(and those seconds apart)
don’t make me deserve his affection
or cause rejection to feel more crippling
they just make the idea of reciprocal feelings
(and reciprocal actions)
all the more sweet
i think that’s how maturity works
leaving my hometown
i’ve always assumed that i will not die of old age but i assume you think you will and i hope you know the corner of victoria street will always smell like driving you home and wiping ink off your cheek
I laid there still, watching as she unwrapped her legs from my left calf and fell asleep, her breath slowing and her shoulders relaxing.
Girls like her aren’t one in a million. Then there’d be a girl in every city so smart, so funny, so quick, such a goddess, and they would all how so much power I’m sure they would all know each other and they’d band together and solve all the problems of the world. All girls are amazing, but she was the right kind of amazing.
And those who accomplish such things don’t have time for mediocre academic men like me.
No, people like her have got to be one in a billion. There are seven of her kind in this world right now, maybe an eighth being born this second. And hopefully, seven other lucky men or women or whatever are feeling my confusion, my incapable, complete love for a person so great anyone can see she’s made of starstuff and floral shampoo and everything she’s ever read and everyone she’s ever met in her short life.
I imagined that perfect eighth child being brought into the world any minute and knew that my world was valuable by default for having one-eighth of Earth and Nature’s incomprehensable grace in it.”
– she’s made of starstuff