Addiction, Boys, Breakups, essays, Fantasy, Men, Queens, Want Monster, Writing

The Reformed Werewolves Club

images-78Are you supposed to feel this insecure three months into a new relationship? I guess no one ever looks down until they are halfway up a ladder, and when I chance a look, I feel sick. Because he matters to me now: I eyeball Connecticut, across from my parents at brunch and I wonder I wonder if I look too old for him, and if that is what everyone is thinking, and if it is only a matter of time until he thinks so too, and the whole structure sways vertiginously beneath me.

He meets my family, and at brunch, he gives my parents too much information; they ask how we met, and he launches into the long tale of how he was retired from dating when he met me, had been for a while, and then how things were sort of bumpy at first, and how he had told me on our first night out together that his dentist was hot and from this I had concluded that he wasn’t interested in me.

I can still remember how disappointed I was that first night. That’s how he got the name “Connecticut—“ named after the state he’s from, where people are regular and do not like me. He hates this name, has requested a new one for the purposes of this blog. So far, no dice.

Connecticut is not regular, and he does appear to like me, but still, I never feel like I have a good hold on him. He feels slippery, like any moment he might need to get his teeth cleaned and realize that loving me is a mistake.

With my addict-head thusly jammed up my own ass, I go out to speak at a 12-step meeting in midtown; I was nominated to speak at this fundraiser in October, and there are people there with clipboards sitting in the folding chairs and coffee fug, scoring my story on a rubric. It’s not a good enough story, I know it’s not good enough. It’s ordinary and I stumble over the words. A man with a clipboard makes a notation when I freeze and look at everyone for a long time, forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing and why I am here, my back a run of flop-sweat. When I was little, I was in some performance where I self-consciously pulled my dress up over my head so no one could see me. Stood there hidden, showing my underroos. This feels sort of like that.

When I get home, my apartment smells like grilled vegetables; Connecticut has magically made there be dinner out of the ingredients for dinner in my cabinets. I keep a lot of ingredients in the house, but only he knows how to put them together; left to my own devices, I will eat the same vegan grilled cheese sandwich night after night. While I was out, he hung my mirror; he hooked up my DVD player.

And I don’t know what to do with the certainty that I do not deserve this, any of this. Who sent you? I want to bark. Why are you here? How long, exactly, are you planning to stay?

When I look at him, I feel certain that he will be gone soon. He is like a snowman someone built on my lawn. In June. Inexplicable and temporary. I’m scared to get used to him being there.

Are you supposed to feel this insecure in a new relationship? I do not know. Maybe it’s the thing that keeps me from taking him for granted.

But in the middle of all this fear, I become aware, suddenly aware, of how many other interesting-smelling people there are around.   Deal messages me, letting me know he’ll be in New York soon; I never got the chance to fuck him while I was single and that doesn’t seem entirely fair. Also: I’m going on a field trip today with my students, and one of the chaperones is this sexy divorced father, who I think was waiting until the end of the school year to invite me out for coffee. I go on Facebook and stare forlornly at the long, golden limbs of that hot yoga teacher; she is wearing a bikini, and she is upside down, and she looks delicious.

But I am somehow in a monogamous relationship.

I look at myself in photos on Facebook and think I am unbearably ugly—the way my mouth hangs crooked on its nail, the tendons in my neck taut like rigging. I am old and uneven and I exercise too much. When I feel this way, I usually go looking for someone willing to try to persuade me that I’m wrong. Me, along with a million other girls I see walking around Astoria, all bright lipstick and short skirts and thumb-shaped bruises on our muscular thighs, waiting for someone to tell us we’re pretty enough.

This weekend, Connecticut and I are driving to New Haven, where I will be meeting his family, even though I’m not to be trusted in polite social settings, and even though people from Connecticut don’t like me. It’s a pretty good sign that we’re in something solid. But when he tells me that afterwards, he’s going to drop me back at my place and go home to his, because he’s tired, and is that OK, I tell him that it is. Of course it is.

It’s fine, to be alone on a Saturday night, with incoming text messages that offer me opportunities to feel wanted, to touch and to be touched even if it’s only our emojis that rub up against each other. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to turn into some addict-werewolf that rips her pants off and runs out into the night baying for attention.

Probably. Almost definitely not. I’m pretty sure.

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(Side note: I think it’s impossible for a werewolf-girl to look sexy.  It always looks like a dog in a dress.)

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Addiction, Bad Things, Blogging, dating, Men, Queens, Relationships, Sex Addiction, Writing

Adulting is Hard

FullSizeRender-26I settle into my new digs like fog, my belongings dustily swirling around me. This newly purchased Queens apartment makes me feel like I’m in that movie where aborigines come into first contact with modern society; I am overexcited by the jetliner flush of the new toilet, and have made a god out of the dishwasher. I’ve always loved the sound of the dishwasher, it’s my favorite white-noise setting when I can’t sleep and need sounds to block out the terrifying podcast of my own thoughts. Now, I stretch out on the couch and listen to a machine wash all my plates. Where I once used the same toast plate and teacup over and over until they were too sticky to lift off the counter, I now select a clean glass each time I want a beverage.  It’s crazy.   I ride the elevator (the elevator!! It’s like getting a piggyback ride for you and your shit every time you want to go to the laundry room!) down to the basement to wash my blankets, and there are signs down here in 400-point font reminding me not to play in the laundry carts. I’m not sure how you play laundry carts, but now that they told me I can’t, it’s all I can think about.

Things are changing, but they also stay the same. Barely 72 hours of homeownership and I drop a decorative conch shell in the bathroom and manage to smash the ceramic toothbrush holder that juts out of the wall. IMG_3801.JPG  I have noted before that everything I own looks ready for a street rumble, dangerous and jagged. And yet it’s quiet here; my one-bedroom place faces the garden and there’s no one out there to fight but this one asshole bird that makes a mating-racket at one in the morning, and maybe myself.

I move in on a Saturday, Connecticut and these four dudes I emotionally blackmailed carrying my furniture down four flights of stairs, shunting everything out of the apartment I shared with Sketch for years and years and into a moving van. I feel like I should leave a message written in all the bedbug powder I’m leaving behind, some kind of warning to the next inhabitants: This apartment is haunted and also bugs live here. I run my hands over the murals that Sketch, my charismatic nightmare of an ex-boyfriend, left up on the walls; I kiss them on the lips. I love you, I tell the paint.   The ghosts, in return, say nothing.

Love him or not, this week I unfriend Sketch and his family on Facebook so that I can make the announcement that Connecticut and I are in a relationship; then I stand back a little to give the Internet the space to react to this weighty news, covering my ears and waiting for the blowback.

The Internet shrugs.

People are busy living their lives. There are adults here in my new complex, busily doing laundry and not playing in the laundry carts, and I feel disguised among them, clearly fraudulent and yet proud of myself anyways. I fix a mortgage over my head and blink out of the eyeholes. No one screams when they see me coming, although I do get a couple of odd looks as I pedal my piece-of-shit bicycle, dead leaves ticking in the spokes and the frame tacky with duct tape, down the sidewalk. My name is on the miniature license plate.

This is important, because this week I’ve been finding that I don’t exactly recognize myself. A week of living here, and this is the first time I’ve opened up my laptop. What if I can’t write here? What if writing was contingent on living in that sticky, haunted walk-up, a punk-rock Miss Havisham waiting for Sketch to come back for me? What if I have unwittingly traded in the place where the writing comes from for a dishwasher and a normal boyfriend?

Connecticut comes over, and the next day we drive to a Target to look at rugs for my new apartment, and I help him pick out a dress shirt for work, and inside, Tippy is screaming that she doesn’t even know what is happening here. Who is this adult and why am I wearing her pants?  I bike past the old place to drop off my keys with the super, who surprises me by giving me a stiff, one-armed Ukrainian hug and wishing me luck, and that’s it; I feel like there should be some ceremony here, some number where the entire ensemble comes from the last ten years comes onstage for a final song. But there is nothing. I look at my phone, because if Sketch was to call me at this moment, I would answer. I don’t know what I would say, but I would answer.

Instead I peddle away, wobbly. My adult self doesn’t quite fit. It’s stiff at the joints. Connecticut drives me to Bed Bath and Beyond, where we shop for a dustpan and a new garbage can. Get me the fuck out of here, Tippy internally rages. Connecticut and I go back to my place and fuck, and I talk him into peeing on me, because I need the bed, the bath, and the beyond. My inner addict and my inner adult duke it out for control, and when Connecticut and I go to Home Depot to buy the shit to hang my pots and pans rack, we also buy anchors for the bedroom wall to properly tie me down as a compromise.

I need to be restrained here for a little while. I’m not to be trusted, I want to tell everyone I pass. You can’t trust me to pay a mortgage like an adult. You fucking can’t trust me not to run. Sketch calls, and I let it go to voicemail, and I talk to Connecticut about the voicemail at dinner.  But I do not tell him: You can’t trust me not to hurt you.  But he does. Foolishly, the people here trust me not to play in the laundry carts, and it’s the trust that keeps me from climbing in and taking off.   It somehow staves off the impulse to ruin everything, before it all falls apart anyway, at least for the fragile moment.

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Breakups, dating, essays, New York, Queens

Mistakes I Have Made & The Ass-Beatings I Have Taken For Them

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Due to the length of this blog post, I felt a picture of my ass was in order. I’m just going to embrace the over-sharing today.

He tells me: “When you look at the MRI scans of an addict’s brain, going through withdrawal from drugs, and compare those pictures with the brain of a person in love, they look the same.”  I don’t need science to tell me that.

Kick’s profile proclaims his wordiness, and I had messaged him threatening to crush him in Boggle; he responds to my Boggle-boasting by showing up for our first date with an actual set he made himself on a 3D printer.  Loser buys the pie.   He beats me handily, and then we play a game where we can only talk in sentences that use words from the boggle board.  It’s amazing how all you can see at times like this are TITS and GROPE.

On the way home, we stop to pet dogs and kickbox trees.  He has hipster glasses and a hipster beard but he is not a hipster.   He has suffered losses this year, and I recognize the telltale signs of their passing in his hands and face.  We nod at each other like two cagey veterans passing in the street.

In front of my building, the garbage is skittering past and I am kissing Kick.  He kisses like it’s the only way to get air, a desperate, scrabbling quality, a lot of bumped teeth.  He pulls my hair a little too hard; he lifts me up, he snarls.  I wonder what that last girl did to him, and I want to rescue him, to share my lifeboat with this growly tiger of a man.

Our next date stretches to 24 hours.  We go out for Thai food, where he orders an entire fish, complete with the head, and identifies parts for me.   We each eat an eyeball; he skewers the head on his chopsticks like a puppet.  I like how he looks to the side when he laughs, like he’s checking to see if anyone is coming.   The conversation keeps swinging around to things I know about by delightful chance.  He mentions Stephen Jay Gould and I offer a merry opinion on punctuated equilibrium; he points to parts of my body and I can name those parts in Latin.

The nubbin inside your ear, for example, is called the tragus.  It is derived from the Greek word for billy goat, because of the little hairs that grow on it.   I only know things like this because Sketch has drawn mine, named these things, but I don’t tell Kick this, and when he looks surprised that I know things, I tilt my head like, what?

After dinner, we go to see a movie of interminable length, and he rests a hand on my leg.  I invite him up to my apartment for tea, and he spends time on the floor of my livingroom, scratching my rabbit behind the ears.   An inspection of my browser history would reveal web searches in which I cruise for pictures of hot guys with rabbits, a barren category.  My stove is leaking gas from one of the burners, and he fiddles with it for me.  I feel something, seeing this man apply himself to my appliances.

He spends the night, and I keep waking up and laughing, because it’s funny to me that this bearded stranger has his head on my Calvin Klein pillows.  The bed has moved far from the wall like a boat that has slipped its moorings.  I drift around with my tiger, comfortably lost.  In the morning, we walk hand in hand.  Two blocks from my house, on top of an old warehouse is a rooftop farm I hadn’t known was there. There are roof chickens, clucking and getting worked up at our approach.  Kick knows a sound to make that affronts them into silence.

Later that week, New York City schools are closed due to snow, and I lace up boots and forge a path for his dirty, cluttered apartment on the Upper West Side.  The apartment is bursting with travel artifacts, take-out containers, the smell of his elderly cat.   We prowl Central Park like foragers, climb trees and jump fences.  He shows me where the raccoons have vanished into their den, just the way the two of us disappear into his apartment.    We watch kids playing hockey at the ice rink, pick our favorites to root for.  It is cold.  You can count the degrees on one frozen hand, if you take off your mittens.

We wrestle in the snow, not far from where kids are hurtling suicidally downhill on dollar-store sleds; he demonstrates ju-jitsu holds and I get snow down my pants.  When I wrap my legs around one of his arms, he pronounces this a mounted crucifix and praises my instincts as a fighter, and I am inordinately proud.

There is much in this man that I find praiseworthy and touching, and delightful.  But he gives me the backstory of his last relationship (accidental pregnancy, personality disorder, chaos , newborn daughter spirited away to Wisconsin) , and I know that we are playing at a relationship.   I go back to work on Monday, and do not hear from him all week.   It is relationship-light—none of the emotional calories, and it leaves a funny taste in your mouth.

We are like people meeting for the first time at an airport.  Our destinations are miles apart, continents.  We are on the clock, and can only fall in love until our flights are called.  If I wander away for coffee, he may be gone when I return.  I attempt to convince myself that I am all right with this.

He has so much emotional freight that his friends call him Bilbo Baggage; his hurt spills out on the floor like a shittily packed suitcase.   I try to help him push things back into other things, both of us with these yawning empty places; we complement one another not with what we have, but with what we are missing.  We compare scars and offer commentary, and we cling to each other under the blankets.    He has a scar down the middle of his chest, a keloid thick as yarn that I can find in the dark, but listing to the side like a slash—the one side of his chest expressed as a fraction over the other.  He will not tell me what happened.

Sometimes, I feel like one of those paid seat-sitters who keep the rows padded out at the Oscars while the real people are in the bathroom.  This is relationship filler.    But I can’t help it.  I want him.   He comes over and stays and stays and stays and even now, I write with him in my bed.  He is naked but for a ski hat he has pulled down over his eyes because my room is too bright (It reeks of morning person in here, he says).  His body is going towards middle-aged fat; he has the widest feet I’ve ever seen that weren’t in a Flintstones cartoon.  He looks like someone I could not knock down.  He is inordinately proud of his gigantic penis, and sends me a dick pic one otherwise cheerless Tuesday evening.  My first sext.

Different theories I have for the scar on his chest:  a fight with a unicorn, an accident involving a sea battle, a narwhal, a marlin, the place where they took his heart out and left a note in its place.  I’m still working out what the note might say.

Here are some things you should not do when you’ve got a new man in your bedroom, and you’re trying to drop anchor:  Do not tell  him the darkest chapters from your past just because those stories are the most interesting.    Do not try to show off your flashiest yoga poses, because you are guaranteed to fall on your ass.  Do not think you can brave the purple waters of BDSM without a safe word.

But I keep going back.  The weekends pass sleeplessly, my laundry piles up and spills over the edges of the basket in a flood of my nicest underwear.  There are red flags, and more red flags, and I ignore them, skating out singlemindedly to where the ice gets darker.   During the week, I am mentally doodling his initials in my notebook; I reread our texts.  I wait.

My friend Nina tells me about a hormone your body produces during physical intimacy, oxytocin.  The joy hormone.  I wonder if my body creates more of it than normal.  When I’m with him, my brain is lit up like Las Vegas and I can barely hear the murmur of warnings from beneath the clang of the slots, a freaking jackpot of sex and attention.

We go out to eat at Country Kitchenette in Morningside Heights.  He eats his breakfast and a good piece of mine as well.  I am still hungry, so I order more food.  While we wait, he takes my hand, draws it to his lips and bites down on it, crushing the little bones and sinews so hard I cry out.   Back at his place, he hits my ass hard enough that he leaves a raised handprint, counting coup on my white body.  I photograph the raised handprint, feeling a strange mixture of horror and pride.  My underwear says BADASS, right across the back.  I walk around him wearing them, and they are a dare, a challenge.  He looks at me like an animal, all snarly and snaggle-toothed.  His parents had let him decide for himself if he wanted braces or not when he was a child; he decided not, and his teeth leave irregular marks in my skin.

We walk down 44th street in the interstice between Astoria and Sunnyside, and I tell him that I have rechristened it Rape Boulevard because it’s so dark and spooky and industrial and deserted, and he pushes my head hard against the side of a parked van and starts to unbuckle his belt.  I seem to have lost the ability to make decisions; I float in a sea of oxytocin with my eyes shut.  But someone is coming down the sidewalk, and he lets me up.

There is something about the undivided attention of an abusive man that lights me up.  He is so riveted by me that I grit my teeth and find a way to dig it.  I don’t tell anyone, because if I did, I would have to stop.  On a subway platform, he sticks a dirty finger in my mouth, like a fishhook, pulling out the side of my face from the inside.  It hurts, but I laugh as I tell him to never do this again.    We go ice-skating in Central Park, and he tries to knock me down.  He pulls me down icy stairs; he flicks snow in my face.  Someone’s beautiful mother tells him that’s not funny, and I kind of love her, and he calls her a castrating bitch behind her back.

Ten years with Sketch, and I never once heard him refer to any woman as a bitch.  Not even me, not even when I was being a bitch.

My friend Rita always coaches: awareness, acceptance, action.  I realize that if he was treating a friend of mine this way, I would call in an airstrike.  Reluctantly, I begin to unpeel my clenched fingers from the oxytocin tap.  I call one friend and talk, and then another.    I tape a note to my favorite picture of myself,  a framed shot of myself in mountain-biking gear, halfway down Death Road in Bolivia: No one mistreats, disrespects, or judges this girl.  I am braver than I reckon, and I do not believe all the things that I think.

I call him, and it takes two and half hours on the phone to call it quits.  In the withdrawal that follows, I would have relapsed back into his bed, but I can’t suffer a call like that again.  I choose letting go over being dragged, but it leaves me feeling deflated, flat.   February drags out in a cold and sour note.

I did finally learn what the scar on his chest was all about; he did it to himself, when he was a teenager.  He wanted to have an interesting scar to make up stories about.  For all his flaws, his petty rages, his arrogance, for how hard he hit me and how ugly our final conversation is, this is something I can relate to.

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Breakups, dating, Queens

I Went on a Blind Date, and This Happened

The night Sketch told me he wanted to move out, I had my hair in a terry-turban and I had already taken off my eyeliner.  It was after ten on a school night, and I had hung up my armor for the day.  At my brightest at about ten in the morning, I get duller as the day wears on; I live with perpetual social jet-lag. Personally, I always imagined there would be a fire to accompany a life-change this seismic, and I would be wearing stiletto gladiator boots, but nothing burned and I was wearing slippers that looked like they were made from the pelts of slain Muppets.

He left, and I moved through the ensuing weeks like a woman living without something vital, like a circulatory system, or a face.

A great thinker of our time, Louis CK, has observed that coming out a long-term committed relationship is like coming out of a time machine.  It was 2003 when Sketch and I got together.  Three Doors Down and Matchbox 20 were the chartbusters.  I had a cellphone that looked like a television remote.  Texts were something you deconstructed for college classes.  I’d never heard of Facebook, and my email address was @hotmail.  No one I knew met guys online; there was just meeting random weirdos on the subway or at the dentist’s office.  I hooked up.  I took hostages.   I was twenty-something, and I wore feather boas to the office I worked at, instead of a scarf.

Now, I’m stepping out of this relationship and blinking, like it’s my first exposure to daylight.  What is this thing you call OKCupid?  And I want to smash things with the enormous bone I imagine myself to be carrying, a Neanderthal amidst the social media.

But everyone knows that the only way to get over a decade-long, meaningful love affair with someone who was both life-partner and best friend is to immediately get under someone else.  And my friend Lita was ready to hook a sister up.

I told her I was kind of feeling Asian guys and she claimed she had someone perfect in mind.    I was already building up a sexual ubermensch in mind—an Asian man with a K-Pop haircut, impeccable manners, and an interest in early American history.  We would have explosive sex and tour Civil War battle-sites together.

Now, the first date was a blind date, and for me, the first date is a highly narcissistic endeavor.  I can’t really make out this hot Asian guy beyond my enormous thought bubbles, crowding him out with such worthy ponderings as, Does he think I look hot? And Am I nodding too much?  And Does my face look like a normal “listening” face?  

The first date isn’t really about the person you’re dating—it’s about yourself.  I really dig this guy paying attention to ME!  I really like this guy’s unique way of LIKING ME!   Other thoughts are there, they just aren’t as important.

Over sushi, K-Pop brings out out a stack of about a hundred million photographs of his students to show me.  Afterwards, we go to the Gantries, a riverside park in Long Island City, one of my favorite places on earth.  We sit on a bench under a weeping willow tree, even though my legs are bare and it is too cold for bare legs.  There is kissing.  I had forgotten how dry your mouth gets right before someone kisses you for the first time, and I had forgotten how delighted you feel with the whole production afterward.

I was stoked for date two, although I had to allow that we hadn’t had a lot to talk about on the first time, and I was pretty much at-capacity with talking about work.   I asked my most trusted friend how many times I had to go out with him before I could sleep with him and she said nine.  I don’t know where she got that number from, but it made me feel like crying.

My date rolls up an hour after the time he was supposed to arrive for date #2 and he meets me on the sidewalk to give me one of those autistic hugs where your arms get pinned to your sides, and I know it wasn’t going to be a great night.

Sketch and I once bonded over conversations like which parts of the human body you’d eat first if you had no choice but to resort to cannibalism or which of our friends would win if they tried to beat each other up, and so I don’t really know how to act around normal boys anymore.  I told K-Pop he had a gorgeous skull, and he tilted it at me in befuddlement.

The first date had been a gimme. The second date?  The sticky mist of narcissism and self-doubt (I imagine it having a texture, like Aqua Net and cigarette smoke) parts enough for me to see this man.  And this is when I realize: dude is totally out of his fucking mind.

When he releases me long enough to get in the car, I suggest frozen yogurt—it is late, and the window of opportunity for dinner has slammed shut.  So we drive five blocks to the Yogurberry, where he proceeds to back directly into some man’s car while attempting to park.  The man looks like Santa, if Santa did crystal meth on the weekends and wiped up spills with his beard.  Santa is driving an ancient Mercedes, and he is pissed.

My date?  His Chinese accent grows more pronounced as he proceeds to bow and scrape with a thickening accent, growing fresher off the boat as Grubby Santa begins to growl audibly.

After cash changes hands and I allow numerous opportunities to walk away to elapse, we go to get frozen yogurt.  Now, I love the frozen yogurt place in my neighborhood.  There are skittle-colored lights and top 40 tunes and you can add your own toppings.    You pay by the weight.  K-Pop pays for his sundae, and then goes back to get more gummy bears, and we get yelled at.

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You don’t just get more candy because you want more candy. This is not a free-gummy-bear kind of situation.

It’s not K-Pop’s fault; he is stoned as fuck.  He tells me how much he likes pot.   Because he can’t drink, because drinking gives him diarrhea.   We discuss his colon and his love of marijuana over our frozen yogurt, and he takes out his pot vaporizer while the five-year-old at the next table looks at us with avid curiosity.    Now, I don’t drink or get high anymore—I used up all my drinks and drugs in my twenties.  So I was telling him how I don’t drink, and I how I hang out with mostly other people who don’t drink, and he tells me that I should really do is try substituting marijuana for alcohol.  And somewhere across town my sponsor’s head explodes.

So I say goodnight and walk myself home.  Only I don’t do that, because my boundaries suck.  Instead, I let him drive me home, knowing full well he only wants to mack on me in the car and pin my arms to my side.  But I let him anyway, because I’m like that.   So we’re out front of my building, and he kisses me in the front seat, and he tastes like jimmies and pot, and his chest and abdomen are rock hard, like an exoskeleton instead of a person, which is pretty sexy, and I like his hairless arms.

But I tell him I have to go.  He tries to convince me to get into the backseat of his car like we’re teenagers, and when I decline, he attempts to pour himself into my seat.  He comes over the gear shift and the cupholder, and ends up sort of half in my lap.  My inner sense of right and wrong looks on with horror and dismay.

Sometimes you can see yourself, sort of from the outside, like a spectator.  You feel all the feelings, but not too much.  You get up and walk out of the theater of the mind, the way I disentangled myself and got out of K-Pop’s car, and you leave those feelings behind.  That’s what I did.  All the things I felt about Sketch’s disappearance were there waiting to rush in and fill the empty seats.

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Breakups, essays, Queens

The Triumph of Hope Over Experience

It was one month to the day without talking to Sketch, days counted the way you count the number of days since your last drink or your last time gambling.  I itched and I fiended.   I dreamed about him, and woke up re-realizing he was gone. My friend Amanda changes his name in my phone from Sketch to Unavailable, but nothing helps me remember.  Maybe everyone going through a breakup has built-in forgetters, a convenient and highly specific form of amnesia, requiring Olympic-level feats of mental gymnastics.  All I could remember was what a powerful team we had once been.  Alone, I took the gold in self-justification.

There is a similar phenomenon that I have noticed in dogs.  When you take a dog outside, and its inclement—which in New York means anything from it’s raining in both directions to it’s snowing garbage—the dog will whine and roll its eyes up to you, as if saying, No, I wanted the OTHER outside.  The one that doesn’t suck.  I often feel this way when I am with my ex-boyfriend.  I want to see the OTHER Sketch, the one where there’s not an emotional refraction period afterward that involves laying on my bed eating chips and being sad.  And yet, as hope once again trumps experience, I go to see him, like any junkie haunting a familiar block.

He’s living in this posh Upper West side co-op now.   I feel rage now anytime I’m west of Central Park and north of 72nd Street and I want to start smashing things with hammers.

To put it in very New York terms, I have always lived in the kind of neighborhoods where the grocery store is C-Town.  For those of you not in-the-know, C-Town is a grocery store with many different generic brands of bologna and a bulletin board bedecked with shame-photos of shoplifters holding things they have attempted to steal.    Sketch, meanwhile, now lives between a Gristedes and a Fairway. Why does he get organic lychees while I am languishing in fourth-floor walk-up in Queens, where an old french fry decomposed in the lobby for months before traveling out the door stuck to the bottom of somebody’s shoe?  There is a bodega downstairs, and it was held up at gunpoint last week.    Things for sale in this bodega include potted meat, stale gumballs, and bread with dust on it.  It’s that kind of a block.  There’s a guy out front who cleans his ears and leaves the bloody q-tips on the sidewalk.

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The apartment next door has had this sad doggie-stairway-to-nowhere parked outside it for about six weeks. The woman who lives there does not even have a dog.  On bad days, it has become a fun little existential metaphor for my entire life.

Sketch has a doorman, the kind with braid on his coat, who addresses him as Mr. Sketch and takes delivery of his packages.  The only way to get  your package from UPS around my building is to lay in the wait in the bushes.

So I’m a little resentful.  Which is a new thing.  For the longest, I was just telling everyone, “I’m not angry!”  And then laughing weirdly.  But it was true.  Anger is not the first thing you feel when someone drops something out a window onto your head.   Shock and bewilderment are great anti-anger measures.  It’s only when you look up and see the gaping thundercunt at the open window who just emptied his bong-water, or pitched a bag of McDonald’s garbage, or dropped his baby, that you get pissed.

I have a friend named Jocelyn who’s been going through this tandem with me—her own breakup, her own fledgling attempts at dating.  And very annoyingly, these guys often send ambiguous texts, or they don’t call, or they just generally suck.  One of our favorite games has become “What’s really going on here?”  Why didn’t that dude call?  Obviously, it’s because the circus is in town and dude has been eaten by a lion.  Why didn’t Bend invite me back to his place?  Because he’s a crazy hoarder and he lives in a maze of pizza boxes.  Why is Joc’s ex showing up in pictures on Facebook with an attractive young girl?  Because the attractive young girl is the ex’s cousin, and she is dying, assuredly, of bowel cancer.

Neither one of us knows how to do this.  We are trying to build the plane as we fly it.

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