Or: "I Want to Critique the Ever-Loving Shit Out of Being Home with a Broken Heart"
“I want to write / her name into nothing for awhile”
- David Pritchard
It was a fleeting decision, to stare at the sun instead of her as she asked me to move out – to invite neon slinkiness dropped off from ultra-violet mesas seemed better than watching her tongue click out words I knew were coming and couldn’t stop.
“Alright, alright, alright” -- all I could say.
Trying to recover my vision, the tears might have looked sincere.
I had a habit of gathering the smoke of drunk cigarettes to saturate our kisses. Even in nice evening clothes. Even when we were at separate bars. Even when I was happy.
I had a habit of walking by her apartment after work. I was sad that she found this bothersome, always wanting me a little more expectedly.
I had a habit of trying to saturate the expected, like a magician with his cloud of smoke.
The first time we slept together after we had moved to New York was on a sweat-stained couch I was crashing on in a windowless living room in the middle of August. It was the start of a summer spent sweating in other people’s apartments: her sublet, her sister’s, my friend’s, my cousin’s.
We seemed to want to claim something, dog-like, knowing we could never return to any space we’d been before.
Maybe we were trying to create the science of feeling welcome in another’s universe, and thus each other’s, groping timidly in destabilized time towards the spinning edge.
We should have been a pair of sublime points shuffling across the hardwood towards a bed.
- I’m too drunk to talk about this right now.
- I just want a tuna melt.
- But that means talking.
- I just want to eat.
- I don’t want to watch you eat.
- So you eat, too.
- I’ll throw up.
- You always say that. Every time.
- It’s the smell that gets me.
I never bought her flowers. Why?
Maybe I was trying to appear more beautiful, for a time, and outlast them by virtue of them never appearing.
She had a habit of giving me little kisses. Like a fish. Even in intimate situations. Even when we were on the phone. Even when she was mad.
She had a habit of going through my emails to see if I saved ours. She was sad that I was not sentimental about dinner plans we made while pretending to work, or especially funny pictures of the people of Wal-Mart, or a train ticket for a weekend trip.
She had a habit of trying to sentimentalize me with little kisses, like you would a pet fish.
We never drove together. No hand-on-knee, no sing-a-longs, no hand-slide-up-the-skirt, no music-mocking, no drive-thrus, no gum-spit-littering, no back-seats.
I feel this lack of traveling, navigating our way in a road rocket to some nebulous dot on a map, might be why we didn’t, to steal my father’s words, “go the distance.”
What can she say that doesn’t have the coherence of wind to me?
I’m still blinking and tearing and seeing lightning bug twitches of light -- she asks for me to say something and all I can say is “alright.”
We went places we hated: zoos, steak houses, Chinatown, because it gave us something to hate with coherency.
Everything else sounded like a wind chime.
“Alright, alright.” And, “tomorrow, I’ll stop by.” And, “do you want something to eat, so we can talk?” And, “I’m going inside and may be some time.”
We should have been a million fish in a barrel, blown up with an atom bomb.
She’s drunk and asking for a tuna melt. And a waffle. I’m not drunk but hungry and will eat most of them. I tell her I love her most when she wants everything at once.
I always felt like I was on the cusp of obtuse. I always felt like she caught the light in obscure curves.
And later, little kisses under wanton streetlights outside the diner, smelling like a fish.
I don’t call her, even after 6 voicemails, knowing what words were coming, what words couldn’t stop.
Because I didn’t want everything at once.
My cousin says he replaced his couch. I don’t know if he remembers it was ours.
I almost didn’t either. Not until three days after we spoke.
- You just wanted everything at once, didn’t you?
- Sometimes. Those were the best times.
- Because something was happening and neither of us knew what it was. They happened even when they shouldn’t have.
We should have been a couple of arctic explorers, wandering alone into the icy night to save the expedition.
Alright. Alright. Alright – an expression of distance. Alright – the collusion of two false positives. Alright – a zero, unlike a force. Alright – the least brightest star.
I’m staring at the sun, looking for a little kiss suspended in its tears.
Kevin Grijalva is a California native living in Brooklyn. Please don't try to feed him a veggie burger, unless it's made OUT OF bacon.