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The day dragged on the same as every other day prior with your face imbued in my mind like a mascot of defeat and despair, the image of what I once believed would bring eternal happiness now stuck hanging in the halls of my memory collecting dust where it once hung a banner of inspiration and joy, a trophy to all men. When the sun ceases to shine, when the moon fails to glimmer, when life takes on a perpetual sheen of gray the only pass time becomes an introverted assessment of our memories, the constant unanswerable question of where did it all go wrong? When did forever get so short? At what point did love become not enough?

But being brought up with the concept that love will always reign supreme given time you learn to push these incessant thoughts to the back of your mind to lay in wait till the time of your next inevitable breakdown. So I sat and desperately clung to all the passionate kisses, the romantic love letters, the daring adventures, the love making, the future plans, as if they were life itself. Just when misery became the closest thing to happiness that I could hope to achieve I received a text from the only person capable of curing my plight it should have revived me and brought me back to the living but instead it pushed me below rock bottom, the text informed me of a change in the dynamics of the situation, she was happily in a relationship with some guy. A million images raced through my mind, her holding his hand the way she held mine, her kissing his cheek the way she kissed mine, her loving him the way she loved me. The world had stopped spinning I was stuck in purgatory my chest got tight, my hands started shaking, my vision went blurry, I was swamped with an overwhelming sense of nausea I reached for the only thing that had sustained me this far, to my horror the bottle was empty chucking the bottle at the wall I scrambled for the carton of cigarettes, empty. I’m not sure how I made it through that night if truth be told I don’t remember anything after that point just the comforting warmth of nothing.

The next two months I wasn’t alive I was in some form of a coma, yes I was there I would hear you and I would answer, but I wasn’t there not a hint of emotion, not sadness, not happiness, just nothing. Word reached me that she had broken up with her now former flame, the relief was instant. It was as if someone had stabbed me in the chest with an adrenaline needle, I allowed myself the privilege of hope. We began to talk again, at first I was reserved till I came to the conclusion that I had to be the old me, the one she had fallen in love, with not the deteriorating carcass of that man. Like all great actors I had to convince myself of the part I had to be the part so I resumed my social life I think I even found myself again at least for a time. We talked about the old times and how we still loved each other and how we were meant to be. From there it evolved into me bringing her flowers sleep overs the stupid laughs the endless kisses, til the next devastating blow to my heart was dealt, she had a new boyfriend. My shock was palpable to all around my mutilated heart visible to all to see. Still I was ensured that we would eventually be together, then it dawned on me we were over our era had ended the fairy tale had come to a tragic closing it was never again going to happen, I was merely the half time show, the fluffer in between scenes, and thats when I decided once was enough for one lifetime.

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Dear J.

We met when I was in the seventh grade, and you were an eighth-grader. That was twenty years ago. There was always something between us; we were intense, you a Pisces, me a Scorpio. Ain’t it the truth. We talked, we laughed, we flirted, and I was scared. I didn’t know what to do with my body there in its wheelchair, didn’t know how to feel or be pretty in your eyes. But you were a kind high school boy, and said truly meaningful things like, “I really like when you wear that sweater, it makes your boobs look really good.” I am pretty sure we loved each other, in the sweetest, most longing kind of way. Time went by; we went on one date, to the movies to see Claire and Leo kill themselves for love, and you held my hand for the first time on the way home. It took another whole year for our first kiss, even after everything. I have never felt more special.

More time went by, we decided we were not for each other, met, dated, and screwed other people. But it was always there, that chance we had never taken, the secret refuge and promise of nostalgia. You always said you wanted to be married and a dad by the time you were 26, and you were. You are a great dad, even though you and his mom got divorced. Through it all we would touch base sometimes. We always knew the other one was out there, something good, something sweet, somehow ours. You used to call me long distance from overseas when you were in the service and you hated it.

More years went by, and I would hear about you, or see you on Facebook, and there was still that old pull. I asked you, out of the blue, to go out of town with me, and you wanted to, but had just started a new job, and couldn’t get away. But you wanted to, you said so, and I believed you.

You got a new phone this summer and texted me from your new number. We had maybe not really talked in ten years or so. You finally admitted that you had unresolved feelings for me, how much you wished we had taken bigger steps in our relationship, and how you thought of me so much. You said if we had gone out of town you would have taken your chance to make love,with me, and love and love and love with me. I asked you if you realized you are the person that other than my family has been in my personal interior life the longest, and wasn’t it great to know we still had each other in some way? You said you did, and yes, it was, and like me, you were glad and thankful.

We made plans to see each other shortly after that, when you were going to be in ____, an hour away, for a week-long work conference. We were going to meet here, at my house, alone and finally adults, on a Friday night. I cleaned the house from top to bottom and put on makeup. And all that day, you did not answer my calls or my texts. You did not come. You did not call or text, or make any contact with me. No excuses, no stories, nothing. I was sure it was because something happened with your son, or to you. You would never do that to me. Not the boy I knew, with those beautiful deep brown eyes. The one I had known for so long, and who maybe loved previous teenage me. I preferred to imagine you in some emergency, and was prepared to give you enough time to get in touch.

Weeks went by. No word. Casually, I saw a comment you posted on someone’s FB. With a sense of disbelief, I clicked on your name, because it meant that clearly you were right there where you had always been, and not forgivably run off the road, in a ditch and then in traction. And I saw your status, saying how happy and in love you were, and I saw your new girlfriend.

I just don’t understand. Did you decide it wasn’t worth it, that the chemistry was not enough, that out twenty-year history was not worth a returned phone call, or a straight answer? I will never know for sure, because I will never ask you, and because it doesn’t really matter. You aren’t who I thought you were. You are not the man you say you strive to be.

You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, but I’m not really angry anymore. I’m not hurt that you treated me the way you did this summer. I am very hurt, though (and you deserve to know and hear this) that you did not respect me or everything that had been between us. I am sad that I feel now that I never really knew you at all, and that when I look back on all those sweet, fond, innocent, exciting, charged, tender, funny, laughing, sexy, patient, stolen moments, they are tarnished now, and kind of empty. You have stolen away the brightness and warmth that you yourself gave me, and that I had made a part of myself for so long.

Goodbye. You made this choice. I don’t need to know why. But I hope you stay gone. I won’t try to find you.

A.

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You and me. We’re like a hot, bright firework.

It doesn’t matter that the hot part is over, and was over more than 10 years ago now. The hot part where we just shot into the sky and fucking exploded and fell in love way too quick and both got really scared about how intense it was. How we were saying it to each other wide-eyed and incredulous, writing it to each other on paper making it real. We would get in your bed and stay up literally all night making out. We couldn’t stop. We’d fall asleep for a couple hours with our faces pressed together and our hearts and eyelids fluttering and our tattoos smushing together into new designs and our breathing in rhythm all too-perfect-like. I’ve kissed a lot of boys and I still remember your kisses. If they hadn’t been so vivid and volcanic and all over me and impossible the next part might not have happened.

That’s the part where the firework is still happening but it’s losing its heat. It’s still sparkling and shimmering and still there…but the real explosion is over. All the little stars are moving away from each other but the idea of what was there still exists, filling out the shape. That’s the part that happened after you smashed my heart. You got more scared than me. You moved thousands of miles away. But then you came back. And you kept coming back into my life for years. We kept going through the motions as much as other relationships and life would allow. Sometimes we’d see each other every day. Our bands played shows together. For a while we were even neighbors. I never stopped wanting to kiss your face. Every single second we spent together getting coffee, watching movies, lounging around outside, talking about stupid shit like robots and our bands and our lives and relationships and how we wanted everything and nothing and were never satisfied…I could barely look at your neutron star eyes that I kept falling into for years. We both knew it and didn’t know it. You apologized for everything from forever ago. Said you were wrong, scared. Our hearts were both bloody on our sleeves but we didn’t want to ruin each other’s lives…though we came so close so many times…every time you threw pebbles at my window or put your head in my lap when we were sitting on a bench or showed up drenched in a rain storm at my door. Every time we hugged so tight and so long when we parted, your face buried in my long hair, your eyelashes flicking my cheek. I think you held me like that to keep our lips as far apart as they could reasonably be in an embrace. My heart would pound so hard I thought it might knock you over. We shimmered and sparkled around and outside ourselves.

I got married. And that’s the part where we turned to ash. You told me once you thought we’d have ended up together for good if I’d never met my husband and I still agree. We’re grown up now. The universe still keeps cleverly throwing our daily orbits together, over and over again. But it’s cool now. I run into you often. I don’t have a heart attack anymore. I’m just happy I still get to see your face while the ash whirls and falls around us and quietly settles on our cheeks and eyelashes, in our hair, on our hands, on the ground.

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I think of you often, but not as much as I used to. I really hope you are well out there in the emptiness of the desert, if that is where you are now. There were so many rules about what we couldn’t talk about, because of your job or your ex-wife, or whatever. I tried to follow them all, and be as good to you as you were to me. And I tried to tell myself that I could have sex with you without being emotionally involved, even though I knew it was impossible. I loved you in the way a young girl loves a man, a man who was so careful and patient and sexy. That is to say, I loved you too much. I wanted to love you with my heart and soul and I could only love you with my shy stiff damaged body. And I did and it was awesome. You let me please you and tease you and kiss you (never enough;I love kissing you).

We talked, we laughed, we teased, we flirted, and then we would go to bed. I only ever saw you in my dorm apartment on campus, but it was okay. You wanted me, and I didn’t understand why, but I wanted you too. You were an absolute gentleman every time, always so careful of me, but never afraid to put your hands on me, to move me around when I couldn’t do it myself. You had magic hands, everywhere at once. The first orgasm i ever had, I couldn’t even breathe.

You taught me, patiently, how to please you. I love giving you head, and I love giving head because of you. If I saw you tomorrow I would give you head without question. One time, you touched your beautiful big dick all over my face. It was the most erotic thing, I think, that I ever experienced.

You were always being deployed; I was always terrified you wouldn’t come back. You did. Then you were very sick and I feared you would die. You didn’t. We haven´t spoken in years, but I wish I could tell you…You made me feel so beautiful, so whole, so enough for you. I never thought a man would want me. You couldn’t keep your hands off me. I’m so glad that you were my first. Even though I hardly knew you, I trusted you, and you are an amazing man. I hope you have someone with you who appreciates all the things you do and who you are. I do.

Much love and many thanks.

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Wow, you are totally married now. That’s weird.

I heard about you for years and years before I ever met you. You were a close friend of one of my best friends, and she had endless affectionate anecdotes about you from college. It always seemed strange to me that we’d never met since we’d all gone to college together and been in very close social proximity.

When we finally did meet, I remember being totally entertained that my friend was hooking up with you, her legendary college buddy. You had a girlfriend and apparently some kind of “understanding.” But you two only hooked up a couple times. Maybe your “understanding” was nullified? It was never totally clear to me. I was in a serious monog’ thing then, and I couldn’t help but act extremely aloof around dudes I found attractive.

I saw you again when I was back on the sexual upswing. I had just gone on a really fantastic first date a few days before and was feeling totally foxy, even though I wasn’t really on the prowl. But I saw you and went full tilt flirt. You still had that same girlfriend, but I’d never met her, so she didn’t really exist. The bike ride back to your house is still so vivid: me sitting on the seat, holding onto you for dear life, squealing as you pedaled down the street. We reached our destination, and I was still squealing. You grabbed me and suddenly we were making out on the hood of a car.

Every time you would reappear, you were exactly what I needed. After I’d been dumped by a dude who I was really starting to like, you invited yourself over to my house to make me an epic steak dinner. That was when I found out that you’d dropped out of college to become a chef for a while, before pursuing the zillion advanced math degrees you have now. Because you totally needed to be a sexier human being.

There was the time that you invited me to your “office hours” on the top floor of the math building on my old college campus. I bragged to probably too many people that I’d gotten to fuck a math professor. You seemed a little disappointed that it wasn’t the first time I’d fucked on campus.

But you always had this mysterious girlfriend character who lived like a million miles away. I remember saying to you that I really enjoyed messing around with you, because you had a girlfriend so it completely didn’t matter whether you liked me or not. It took the pressure off, so we could have fun with any of the where-is-this-going bullshit. You said, “But I do like you.” I replied, “That’s awesome! But it totally doesn’t matter. I like that.”

So I found out recently that you married her. And apparently you’re living on the other side of the country again. You’re like some kind of ephemeral creature. Even though you’re ostensibly monogamous, I’d probably totally still fuck you if you reappeared. Somehow, you’d probably still be exactly what I needed.

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Once you dyed your hair purple and I got so mad at you. You and your dyed hair
and black fingernails and Camel Red Lights and black coffee and cheap whiskey.
I flipped out because you were hanging out with these friends who wanted to
control you – make you listen to this music, go these places, do these things,
and mostly stay away from me. They thought I was hurting you. After a while
you thought I was too – you forgot all about how you were asking for it by not
understanding that we were over. Even though we weren’t really over because
we were best friends. This sounds messy doesn’t it? Everyone was basically
right. But I was still so mad at you for letting them control you. Like a little puppy with dyed purple hair.

Now she’s controlling you – all these years later. You’ve traded in your hair dye
and whiskey and black nails for chinos and margaritas, your old rock bands for
jazz and country and Jimmy Buffett, your cigarettes for golf and cruises. You
were an artist, remember? You took pictures and painted and wrote songs. But
you’re not allowed to anymore. After a while you forgot that you wanted to do
those things. You’re so forgetful. You always have been.

I’ve known so many versions of you and there was one I loved so much, that
seemed so real. Before the purple-haired you. It was a sing-songing, beach-
walking, star-watching, show-going, picture-taking truck-driving magical you.
But were you just a mirror up to me? To show me what I liked? Like you were a
mirror for them then, and a mirror for her now? You know what? That breaks my
fucking heart.

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Sometimes I play it cool with you, even when I shouldn’t. I think it’s because even though I trust you, part of me doesn’t trust how amazing it is being with you. Like at some point you’re going to decide that it’s too much trouble, or not going where you want it to, or… something, I don’t know, that would make you change your mind about wanting to be with me. Whatever, all I’m saying is that when we’re apart, I forget how much you love me, and it’s totally not your fault.

Oh, but being back together again… you had been back four long days before we got to see each other. I was a little nervous at first – damn that lurking, irrational anxiety. But after a little while that passed, and it felt so good just to be with you, talking and flirting and catching each other up on our summers, and walking together, your arm fitting perfectly around my shoulder. We drank wine and talked some more, and goddamn I just think you are incredible, you care so much about the people you love, even when it’s not easy, and I love that about you.

I thought maybe we weren’t going to fuck that night, we were both so tired and you were stressed out from the past couple days. Silly me – as soon we got in bed, it was on. Having you inside me felt like coming home. I think that’s why I had tears in my eyes. Thinking about the other night getting me this weird mix of choked up and turned on right now, actually. It feels so fucking good to have you around. I wish you were back for good, but oh well. I’ll probably be stoic about it, as usual, but really I am going to miss you so much.

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