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211 pages, Hardcover
First published January 4, 2011
That first night, you took your finger and pointed to the top of my head, then traced a line between my eyes, down my nose, over my lips, my chin, my neck, to the center of my chest. It was so surprising, I knew I would never mimic it. That one gesture would be yours forever.
I'm not going to even try.
"I don't normally do ths kind of thing," you said.
"Neither do I." I assured you.
Later it turned out we both had met people online before, and we had both slept with people on first dates before, and we both found ourselves falling too fast before. We comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say which was: "I don't normally feel this good about what I'm doing."
We do not divulge our histories chronologically. It’s not like we can sit each other down and say, “Tell me what happened,” and then rise from that conversation knowing everything. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re dividing ourselves into clues.
These kinds of fights can never be won — even if you’re the victor, you’ve hurt the other person, and there has to be some loss associated with that.
Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life.
I can’t help but admire your capacity for creative vengeance. And at the same time, I am afraid of it.
That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? When you’re single, there’s the sadness and joy of only me. And when you’re paired, there’s the sadness and joy of only you.
Doesn’t it strike you as strange that we have a letter in the alphabet that nobody uses? It represents one-twenty-sixth of the possibility of our language, and we let it languish.
The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in the third grade.
The scratch on your neck- did I do that?
This brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read.
Maybe language is kind, giving us these double meanings. Maybe it's trying to teach us a lesson, that we can always be two things at once.
Knit me a sweater out of your best stories. Not the day's petty injustices. Not the glimmer of a seven-eights-forgotten moment from your past. Not something that somebody said to somebody, who then told it to you. No, I want a yarn. It doesn't have to be true.
I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte's Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn't when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.
In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren't these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?
We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.
Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.
The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.
Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.
It’s always something we have to negotiate — the fact that my parents are happy, and yours have never been. I have something to live up to, and if I fail, I still have a family to welcome me home. You have a storyline to rewrite, and a lack of faith that it can ever be done.
Nights when I need to sleep and you can’t. Days when I want to talk and you won’t. Hours when every noise you make interferes with my silence. Weeks when there is a buzzing in the air, and we both pretend we don’t hear it.
Sometimes desire is air; sometimes desire is liquid. And every now and then, when everything else is air and liquid, desire solidifies, and the body is the magnet that draws its weight.
I can't help but admire your capacity for creative vengeance. And at the same time, I am afraid of it.
It scares me how hard it is to remember life before you. I can’t even make the comparisons anymore, because my memories of that time have all the depth of a photograph. It seems foolish to play games of better or worse. It’s simply a matter of is and is no longer.
I have never wanted a lover. In order to have a lover, I must go back to the root of the word. For I have never wanted a lover, but I have always wanted to love, and to be loved.
There is no word for the recipient of the love. There is only a word for the giver. There is the assumption that lovers come in pairs.
When I say, Be my lover, I don’t mean, Let’s have an affair. I don’t mean, Sleep with me. I don’t mean, Be my secret.
I want us to go back down to that root.
I want you to be the one who loves me.
I want to be the one who loves you.