I’ve been leaving hidden messages for Connecticut in the blog just in case he is reading it. This feels both cathartic and cowardly, like whispering your darkest secrets to someone while they are sleeping, and I know it’s some passive-affectionate bullshit, so last Friday I finally just text him some love directly. I write that he is the first thing I think of in the morning, and I hit send just as the sun is coming up. It’s the closest I’ve been able to come to telling him what’s actually going on in the spooky, haunted space under my hair. Connecticut’s response: That’s nice to hear. Have a good day. The unenthusiastic punctuation alone makes me picture him giving me the side-eye while scuttling away, one hand protectively over his penis like I am going to eat it.
I think he’s scared of me.
It’s OK; somebody has to keep it in park, because I have also been feeling closer to Sketch than usual, hiding out more often in his apartment. I’m in the process of buying a co-op, by myself, without a husband or a partner to blame any bad decisions on, and apparently a mortgage is Magic-Grow for all my fears and resentments. Historically, I’ve always been a renter, one that wanders away from said rental unit after meeting a man I would prefer to sleep on top of. I’ve never attempted to get a security deposit back or do any of the things that regular people do, and all my belongings have gotten left behind on more than one occasion; I’m on my fourth toaster for no reason other than that it has seemed like a lot of trouble to dump out the crumbs and wrap up the appliance safely.
It ‘s hard to think about shutting down my apartment, these five rooms I split with Sketch until he moved out three years ago. I didn’t change anything after he left, although I know you are supposed to. You are supposed to repaint, fuck somebody new in the kitchen, burn sage. Instead I just let my books colonize the spaces on the shelf he once occupied, gradual and inevitable as an oozy spill, and left everything else the same. People come in and they ask me about the murals Sketch left on the walls, and I try with limited degrees of success to explain my ex-boyfriend to them.
Sketch. Every time I see him, I wish I had extra arms to wrap around him. On Saturday we press our foreheads together for a while, so we both look one-eyed to the other person, and then we walk arm in arm for forty blocks to some vegan restaurant, trading the details of our week and talking over one another. I confess to him how terrifying it is, the whole buying-an-apartment thing. I keep waiting for someone to come and tap me on the shoulder with that Are you fucking kidding me shake-of-the-head-and-accompanying-thumb-gesture that used to greet my entrance into certain New Orleans bars I had been 86’d from. The fuck out of here. It’s ridiculous. Sketch has been feeling the same disoriented way, going through his 200 hours of yoga teacher training. This week they had a trauma workshop in which they were asked to supply all of their uncried tears, and they had to traverse the studio on all fours pretending to be elephants. This from a man who once stared down a life sentence from the confines of his cell. It’s weird, how two lives can be lived in the same life.
“It’s crazy,” I repeat for the tenth time over mounds and mounds of kale. Sketch has been buying all the dinners lately so I can save the money I need for my down payment on the co-op. We’re supposed to be going to contract this week or next, which is crazy. I don’t feel like a real person, I feel like three monkeys in an overcoat trying to impersonate one. And one of the monkeys is in heat. “I mean, I was a homeless person.”
“Right? You lived in a car. And now you’re the opposite of homeless. You are homeful.”
The next day I wonder why he brought up the car. I don’t generally talk about when I lived in the car. It’s not my favorite memory. However, I did just write about it in “Sex and Driving.” Has Sketch been reading the blog?
I wonder the same thing about Connecticut. They could both be reading this, at this very moment, a thought that slows me down in mid-sentence in Sketch’s apartment, naked but for his hoodie, listening to his broken shower head drip and trying to get something down on paper before he wakes up. Sometimes I lay in bed with Sketch, and I text Connecticut, checking in on him because he’s had a rough week. Selfishly, I need both these men. With Sketch, it is all sex and history, geologic layers of inside jokes and comfortably grooved conversations that you only get from knowing and loving and fucking someone for almost fifteen years, and with Connecticut it is still the rapid-fire exchange of texts and phone calls that you only get when you’ve known someone for eight weeks and you want to hear their whole story and they’ve never touched you.
Connecticut and I are friends, but I also love him, a thing he wouldn’t know unless he’s reading this. In which case, just kidding. But not. And Sketch I love and I want, and I tell him this too much, I repeat it like a losing but passionately believed argument, one that’s too hard to elucidate.
I feel connected to both these men, and I fantasize about them working out a schedule with me, like parents, who has to take care of me when. Between the two of them, I have the perfect boyfriend.
This is ridiculous, of course. I don’t need anyone to take care of me. I am a grown-ass woman. It says so on my mortgage application. I went out for a driving lesson yesterday and I picked up my friends, who trust me enough to get into my rolling murder machine and chat and laugh in the backseat. My death count is still zero, and I’m getting better at changing lanes; I’ve almost got it figured out now, how to look in the mirror, but also look forward at the same time, trusting myself enough to roll forward. And if either of the men I love are reading this, feel free to give me a clue; I’ll be watching for a sign.