My computer has nearly had it. It’s sticky and clogged and that beach ball of Mac despair spins and spins onscreen. I am frequently informed that my Dropbox is full, which is like telling me how all the world’s bees are dying; I feel bad, but what am I supposed to do? Start an apiary in Brooklyn? Begin backing up? The cursor dangles just adjacent to my last sentence, and refuses to go where I tell it to go, like one of those carnival games where you have to shoot a target through a crooked sight; you can learn, eventually, to compensate. These words, for example, need to come out all on the first go, like a typewriter, because of the whole feral cursor situation. It makes me think a little longer on what I want to say. I deliberate, for a change.
My IT gifts extend only as far as restarting the computer and mumbling at it angrily, Be less shitty. This whole situation is not acceptable, because I need my computer. I have a careful fortress made of screens and electronic alerts set like bear traps and I need them, because unsurprisingly, I am the sort of girl who would rather text someone than talk to them. I would rather blog than go to a party. People are scary and I’m afraid of balloons. If only every time someone walked up to me at a holiday party, they could hand me a pad with their name and their intentions on it and invite me to write back in my own time, I would be much happier with all my social interactions around the chips and onion dip. The screen is a buffer, and a delightful one; I like myself so much better in electronic chat then in reality, the place where I am accidentally head-butting people when we both go to reach for the same item, where the hood of my coat got stuck in the closing door of the subway from inside of the car and I had to get off at a later stop that opened on that side.
Things are not working this week. My stomach is expressing profound dissatisfaction with the holidays, burping and growling and being a nuisance. Eating has always been a problem, and that sucks, because aside from drinking and fucking, what else is there to do with other people? In my head, I am still the girl with the steak and the doublewide basket of bread and the glass of Glenlivet, and I don’t know how the fuck I turned into this person who is bitterly drinking a horseradish juice and picking fussily at a quinoa burger, no bun. It sucks.
When I was twenty-four, I went to some hypnotist-spiritualist-charlatan type person who told me that there was a demon living in my stomach. On the metaphorical level, I still believe it: some sort of internal Krampus propelling me from place to place doubled over, dealing with the bad behavior of other people’s children, eating charcoal tablets to try to deal with it and burping black clouds. Some dark minion has taken up residency, and it looks to punish.
And I maybe need punishing. I am getting my flirt on this week with this guy I met in real life. Met IRL, and immediately fell back, retreating behind screens. I scroll through six months of his Facebook posts, handling them like sheets of glass, afraid of accidentally liking something from last July and looking like a weirdo. We lob texts at one another. I don’t know anything about him except that he is good at texing, and he writes and reads and does music, and this is a wonderfully blank canvas upon which to fling bright buckets of need. Every time I see a text from him, my heart lifts. Attention. It’s a Christmas miracle.
And all the meanwhile, I am sort of dying. I spend the night at Sketch’s, and we have the sort of gymnastic sex that makes your toes splay. I bruised my shin on a chair that was brought into the bed; it’s the kind of sex that co-opts innocent furniture. And it’s good. But after, my stomach hurts so bad I can’t even make conversation. When he asks me if I am OK, I nod, try to pull my white lips into a reassuring shape. I could be drowning, pursued by underwater bees, and I would still tell you I’m fine.
Definitely a demon, one that isn’t on board with all the fucking or the holiday cookies people are trying to give me. My stomach bows demonically outward, twinging on high-alert every time the phone hums. There is a sort of laser-sharp focus thing that happens when I like someone. Normally, I walk around sort of vague and forgetful, but when I like someone, and the texting thing is happening, I am on point. I am awake. I can feel the double-vibration signifying an incoming text from the next room, the way animals sense other animals on the savanna through the vibrations in their hooves.
But I find the suspense almost unbearable. There is something about thinking I might possibly have sex with someone at some point that makes me want to immediately have sex with them, because I can not stand the suspense of not knowing. I’m the same way with presents; I just want the cheerful wrapping paper that stands between me and the next disappointment removed and gone.
But life, much like my cursor, doesn’t allow for revisions. There is no going back. Once the pants come off, like gift wrap, there is nothing left but to look pleased and pleasantly surprised. So I deliberate, and finally just text this man a half-dozen dead-eyed Santa emoji, hidden behind my glowing rectangles, peering out and cringing at the mistakes I haven’t made yet.