After months of it being easy, I’ve been struggling to write. Everything coming out of this keyboard right now sounds like a lie or like an excuse, like some bullshit you would offer if you were stalling for time. Partially this is because the blog has recently been subjected to some unexpected scrutiny, and as I live the kind of life that pairs the psychotic questions, Why won’t you look at me with what the fuck are you staring at, I’ve been left feeling paranoid and stalled. I’m stuck in the in-between space, like some embarrassing item hastily crammed halfway between the couch and the wall when guests arrive. Ask me how I am and I panic.
It’s easier to report on what I’m doing than how I’m doing, and what I’m doing is thinking about Sketch a lot. Last night I talked to him for an hour, our conversation once more a vast web of in-jokes and private references, allusions, pronunciations of words regional to the two of us. It is deeply and profoundly comforting to talk to him, although we resolve nothing. I can’t even report this conversation to my friends, because it will go like this:
Me: I talked to Sketch last night.
Well-Intentioned Friend: What did you talk about?
What did we talk about? I have no idea. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention, it’s just that it wasn’t the kind of conversation you can synopsize, at least not with any degree of honesty.
Our only plan for going forward is to have a weekly thing that we do together, something other than sex, although that is the thing that I want to do with Sketch most: to go home with him and have him pound me flat. I miss the tone of voice he uses when he talks to me in bed, low and inarguable, telling me things to do. I miss the taste of the inside of his mouth.
Instead, we’re supposed to come up with a weekly shared activity, and I’m pushing for some kind of do-goodery. I can picture us cutting carrots side by side to feed the homeless, or walking a pack of worm-riddled dogs for an animal shelter. Even if we can’t figure our shit out, at least we’d be doing something. We need a task, something to keep us focused. We need a goal: I idly entertain the idea that we could train for something together. A marathon, or a swim across the Hudson, a dance competition.
“So, you’re back together?” people keep asking, trying gamely to follow along. We are not back together, I explain patiently, we’re just sort of talking again, sometimes. This is the in-between place, and I stand shifting in front of my phone with time to kill.
Squeeze, the adorable man I met in Paris, finally made it to New York, and he and I exchange a brief, painfully polite volley of texts before he lapses into silence. Although this makes my life easier, I hate the way I find myself justifying and making excuses for his disappearance. He just moved here, he must be really busy. Or maybe he still has jetlag. Or probably something happened to his phone. I make a big show of telling people that I am awesome with rejection, and I appear to be because I court it so avidly, but in reality, I draw the same conclusions every other woman on the planet does: the adorable man did not text me back because I am inherently unlovable and will never have a partner who will give me what I need because I am not pretty enough.
Rejection doesn’t feel great, and in this sticky environment inappropriate crushes flourish like bacteria. A man I work with, or men the generation beneath me, or someone else’s boyfriend are all fair game.
Someone else’s boyfriend always looks better from the outside of the relationship: planning a surprise for you, doing your chores, showing up at the sort of social engagements I have to weather alone. Flowers bloom on your desk, and I see them on Facebook. You don’t report the other things, the fights and the misunderstandings, the frustration of being tied to another person who doesn’t do exactly what you want every single hour of the day. I only see the ice sculpture your boyfriend carved you for your birthday. And I am jealous.
I have to watch myself around these boyfriends, because I want to get in close. I wouldn’t sleep with your boyfriend, not unless you were into it and maybe not even then. But I get in too close. You have your arms around each other and I am trying to insinuate myself in the middle where it’s warmest. Some of the affection might fall in this direction, or I might learn how you manage to make it work with a person without breaking up every ten seconds because you both think there might be something better just over the horizon.
I have to watch myself, because these days I am starved for attention. I get asked to participate at a reading series in Queens next week, and I knock my chair over in the rush to email back YES, YES to have the chance to hear someone say my name and maybe clap. And then, yes, because I am crazy person, and because I want more, and because I have the insatiable need to know and to be known, I invite Sketch to come too. He agrees to come and hear some of these things that I have written about him, and I hope that maybe after we will know some new things, or at least I will be closer to one side or the other. I overthink everything: the things I write, the words that have already come out of my mouth, the ways I love. At some point, the only thing left to do is to pick a direction at random and head for it like it’s the right one.