If you ask my mom what her least favorite fruit is, she will either say cantaloupes or bananas. This doesn’t make her special or anything. Plenty of people don’t like cantaloupes. I’m one of them. Plenty other people don’t like bananas. I know one of them. So, it seems reasonable to believe that plenty people, worldwide, do not like either fruit. What makes my mother’s dislike of these fruits somewhat special is that she liked both of them until I was born. I am the sole reason for her dislike of them. The cantaloupe thing started when she was pregnant with me. Cantaloupes made her sicker than any other food and she hasn’t been able to eat them since. The banana thing was my fault in a more direct way. I loved bananas when I was little. I wanted one after every meal. While that would normally be fine, I was so little that I could only eat half of a banana. Not wanting to waste the other half by throwing it away, or letting me have a not-completely-fresh half the next time, my mom ate the other half with me every single day. She cannot eat them now. She is sick of them. Still, throughout my whole childhood she ate that half, never once complaining or suggesting another fruit to me. That is love. It’s trivial and seemingly unimportant, silly even, but it is love in its purest form.
The man who fathered me, the one I called “Daddy” for seventeen years, could also be said to love me. When I was little he was the one throwing me up in the air and catching me in his strong arms, calling me his baby booze. He drew pictures for me and made me a coloring book. He let me play with his prized radios until I broke them. He carried me on his shoulders when my little legs grew too tired to walk. This was love, yes, but it was only in the daytime. At night he would bundle me up, walk me to the next building, and leave me with an older couple so he could drink and snort coke in peace. When I was older, he would sign the cards “love Daddy,” but never come to the events. This is a show of love. It’s empty and meaningless, and it is not love.
I have a best friend, who may read this. In school he was cool and popular and could have easily befriended anyone he wanted. For some reason I still don’t understand, he chose me. People told him I was weird and asked why he even talked to me. He never wavered. Our senior year we put on matching Halloween costumes and walked the hallways holding hands. He didn’t care who saw him in tights, or holding the hands of some weird girl no one ever really talked to. I smiled, not because I was holding hands with a cute boy, or my best friend, but because it was love. It was out in the open and real and it was love.
I had a friend once who used me every chance he had. Whether for food, money, rides, or homework help, he used me. This isn’t to say that I received nothing. He would talk to me when I needed help and was, at times, the strongest support I had. He had no qualms about talking to me in public, though I was strange. However, unlike the friend above, it was not real. It was all about the gains and it was not love.
I have a friend who I’ve known quite literally my entire life. We share stupid memories, scary ones, funny ones, and a million I cannot even categorize. Our relationship has hit plenty of snags, as we are completely different people with completely different ambitions. For a long time I suspected this would end us. It did not. Our friendship is every bit as strong as it has always been. One day, she will marry, and I will be her maid of honor. Someday before that we will get matching tattoos. I love her like I love family. It is lasting and it is true and it is love.
I befriended a boy once who was dark and dirty. We shared one very real, very unbreakable bond. We will always be joined together, no matter how we change. There was a time we spoke of matching tattoos. There was a while when I liked him. We texted each other “good morning” texts and naughty pictures. He called me pet names, like “lovely,” “darling,” and “sweetheart.” One September he said “You’re cute and I love you.” I was happy and excited and said I loved him too. Today I know that I do love him, in a way, because we are forever joined together. He will always be an enormous part of my life, even when we do not talk. But this is not the sort of love one dreams about. It is permanent and unchanging, but it is not love.
I liked a boy once who didn’t know his real name. He settled on a biblical name because it was the one life had given him, real or not. He slept next to me and I tried my best to keep his demons away. He disappeared sometimes and I pretended it was okay when he returned because I didn’t want to miss out on anything by being mad at him. He stole, he did drugs, he drank, and once he hurt me. Still, I defended him until I couldn’t anymore. It was youthful and it was reckless, but it was love.
I liked another boy once who was broken from a bad relationship. At the time, I was even more broken. He outgrew my hand and I thought that made him special. We went on walks and ate chocolate together. One night, we got too high and had sex in a closet. The following weekend we never left his bed. This went on for almost a month before I thought to call it a relationship. The comfort we took in each other grew and grew and we smiled and called it love. Looking back I see that we used each other, and I see that it’s okay. It was beneficial and it was comfortable, but it was not love.
These are the stories that make me believe that there is love in this world, and that, in some ways, I have already found it. In more ways, I am still finding it. Today I know a boy with true blue eyes and arms covered in tattoos. He talks of love and marriage. For now I smile and laugh, but maybe one day I’ll talk the way he does. I can’t say. Today it isn’t love. It is attraction and it is desire, but it is not love.
I am content with this. I like knowing that I have the chance to watch something grow, or fizzle out and die. It isn’t about the direction this takes, it’s about the fact that it is actually taking a direction. It has potential. In the meantime, I get to enjoy the signs that it is growing. I can see him tell his friends that I am pretty and that he loves me. I can hear myself talk about his eyes and his talent. Though this has yet to develop, it is real because we enjoy not only each other, but the pride we take in each other. Isn’t that part of what this is about? Wanting someone is one thing, but when you can be proud of someone else and the fact that you have some connection to that person…when you want to make that person your own so that all references to that person (and there will be many) include the word “my.” Well.
That is love. That is what I secretly (or not so secretly anymore) want. I want someone who wants me. Who takes pride in me. Who fights for me. Who wants to love me openly and wildly.
Tonight you are with your girlfriend. You are making her happy, making her laugh, and making her feel special.
Tomorrow night you will be with me. You will make me feel sexy, happy, loved, and special.
The following night is your six month anniversary with said girlfriend. I will not hear from you all weekend. I will be pretending I don’t exist. You will send me texts when she’s in the bathroom or asleep. I will get excited to hear from you, and text you back until you stop responding.
Why am I doing this again?
Because as much as it hurts, you mean more to me than anyone else who is not my mommy. I love you more than I hurt because of you. I’m not sure if that makes it okay. But I know that you are special. And that I was incredibly lucky to find you when I did.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”—Steve Jobs via YMFY @ ImprintCultureLab. (via tobia)
Two thousand, seven hundred and fifty five miles. That is where you are.
Nine hundred and forty five miles. That is where you will be.
One thousand, eight hundred and ten.
You are the last thing I ever expected. Five years ago you were unreachable. Untouchable save through the speakers. Distant even then, held back by technology and noise.
And now you are in my pocket. You are in my hands. You are at the Grammys, surrounded by starlets and still telling me that you want me. That I’m pretty. That you would share anything with me.
Soon you will cut through the thousandth mile, the eight hundredth, and finally the tenth, and join my coastline again. Friends will tell me to see you. To date you. To kiss you. My fourteen year old self will tell me to do the same.
But as long as my nineteen year old self is ruling my thoughts and actions, this will not happen. You are something to write about. You turned what I thought was a tangent into a secant.
Of crying myself to sleep with this Peter Pan DVD.
I haven’t heard from you all day. Because you’re with your girlfriend and I have to pretend I don’t exist, and pretend you won’t be saying you love me later and pretend you won’t be sending me pictures of your dick even later than that.
The thing about pretending you don’t exist is that after long enough, you start to feel like you really don’t exist.
“I wish I could be a girl again, with the chance to live my life again. I have suffered so much more than I needed to. And the joys I have felt have not always been joyous. I could have lived differently. When I was young, a boy bought me a ruby bracelet. It was too big for me and would slide up and down my arm. It was almost a necklace. He later told me that he had asked the jeweler to make it that way. Its size was supposed to be a symbol of his love. More rubies, more love. But I could not wear it comfortably. I could not wear it at all. So here is the point of everything I have been trying to say. If I were to give a bracelet to you, now, I would measure your wrist twice.”—Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”