We went for the kiss—me and me—and we froze.
We got a frontline parking space at Target. On a Saturday night. A goddamn coup de grace to put halt to a hot, unhappy day of moving furniture and the graceless exasperation of literally herding cats. She ashed a cigarette over the car window. I rummaged through the center console in search of gum. She told me there’d be none—I was intrigued.
“I really think you should give her another chance.” Polyamory is not a trenchcoat filled with pockets—more of a see-through raincoat full of pockets. Everyone knows everyone. My kindness and my mistakes are made the public domain.
It’s mortifying in the short run but I’ve bought into maturity by the bulk; you know in sitcoms and rom coms when the protagonist just fucks up the same relationship over and over and never grasps why until they meet that one person who calls them out, and then now that they’re suddenly “fixed” they can settle down? I never experienced that. I have a constant chorus, a ticker tape of my equity—I’m in the know on what needs improving.
“I know your feelings were hurt, but she likes you and you should let it go.”
I’m running out of sidequests and subplot. I didn’t mean to imply that knowing where I need to level up made it any easier to confront my central defects. “Buying a lamp so my partners have access to light without getting out of bed” was a floater, maybe top 20 but not top 10 of the problems, but I had a panic attack over the purchase at IKEA so I, for a moment, didn’t need to panic over the inability to forgive people that is slowly isolating me from the world and my communities.
Strangely, an idle youth spent watching wrestling, where friends betray each other for no reason but to propel plot and audience investment, hasn’t bequeathed me a bevy of trust in other people’s intentions. I excise at first blood, holing myself up against the wall, screaming “back, you savages, back!” at any shadow of a brave hand or olive branch.
Woman fear being laughed at too—I am ensnared to entertain, even now, the notion that everyone is congratulating themselves and each other for hurting me, even if by accident—great shot, kid that was one in a million.
Last night I dreamed an ex of mine came to my birthday party—when asked why she was there, she would just repeat “I came to take care of you,” even as she had sex with all my guests and followed me from room to room to tell me how she got pregnant by her husband, who purposely broke us up in real life, that same real life where I miss her so much and know she’d like to hear from me. I woke up in a super adult turbo edition fit of tears. I just—can't.
I know I’m not easy to love, or date. I know this because I dated myself.
Three years ago, I met up with a woman from OkCupid at Beer Revolution. We wore the same dress (ModCloth’s soda fountain in cherry red), the same boots (Durango engineer boots for women) and mismatched cuts of pantyhose, severed at the thigh to make a stocking. If we’d traded, we might have each had a full set that could show off to our friends in home realms after the anomaly now corrected forcibly transported her or I to our home universes.
It’s none of my business what brought her to my universe. Maybe she’s a illusionist and the rabbits there shit the secrets behind magic tricks. Mi pesadilla es su pesadilla, chica.
We fondled hair—she’d let hers grow out and develop curls, I liked mine shorter with flowers in it—and defaced a novelization of an Audrey Hepburn film. Same height, same weight. We’d gone to (and been asked to leave) the same activist conferences. We were struggling with the desire to be a writer, but needing other people to hold us accountable for regular content. We’d regretted talking about with sex with our mothers.
Last week I asked my mother about forgiveness. There was a man—at least my father was convinced there was. They divorced because he was so convinced there was a man. And then there was a man, one who told my mother he had been assigned to Iraq, gave his truck and phone away, and exited my mom’s life with a promise to return and give her that fourth baby she wanted. A month later, he realized too late that he had totally lied about the Iraq thing when my mother saw him hanging out at her workplace.
Years later, she’s seeing him again, albeit casually.
“How do you let that back into your life, Mom? Impart upon me your inhuman tolerance for betrayal and punishment, witch!”
“I just had to let it go. It was eating at me and I had to let it go.”
Thanks, Mom. Oprah could have told me that. If I had a TV. Does she still have a show? I’m so behind on everything.
We snapped garters—me and me, not me and my mom—and traded elaborate stories of the near-future, where we would have the chance to tell people we were able to go fuck ourselves. We refreshed plum lipsticks and secretly ordered beer for each other—two lambic framboise, coming up. I bet our stretch marks would have lined up.
In my craft workshop there is a box of all my exes things—$400 shoes and flannel shirts and tiny butt plugs. The reptile in my head has yet to decide whether I’ll find it more “healing” (see also: spiteful and obtusely hurtful to others) to hold onto these items forever or make a disappointed request they travel all the way to see me so I can hand them their leftovers and lock the door between us—forever. If I ever find out where that lizard fucking lives I will burn their house down.
We went for the kiss—me and me, not me and the lizard—and we froze. We hadn’t shaved. Plans with had been made, friends would be waiting—this was an accident. If we’d bailed on our friends to make the maxim come alive, would any of this make it into a post-bang brag?
If I rescheduled, would I shave then? Or would I shy away, having conveniently left my legs and cunt rife with body hair as proof of how hideous and useless I am, only to find she had done the same, hoping that she’d get to focus her sexual energies on someone not wholly agonized with self-loathing. And I guess now we’ll have to check with what friends we’re meeting up with as an excuse to not have to confront our fear of sexual inadequacy with a new person so we don’t show up at the same bowling alley. That’d be embarrassing.
We split the table back into two equal territories. We slid our dresses back over garters. We finished our beers and took different trains to see our friends, though we were going in the same direction.
I don’t fear people because they’re bad, or rather always intentionally bad. I have trouble trusting myself—like an addict looking longingly through the window to the world they wish they could join, but afraid that the self-killing is what makes them complete, that they might not have the strength to even cross the street without it.
I’ve heard “forgiveness is not for them, it’s for you.” This horrific free fall into faithlessness, because I won’t trust myself to be strong enough to let people make mistakes, or even the right decisions that just cause me unintended harm.
I should give myself a chance. I just—I have a hard time opening up for her.
If you get what I mean.