On that One Friend

I hadn’t seen him in about five years when we were at that wedding. We got through the ceremony, to the reception, and we were sat next to each other at the table. And I think it took a grand total of three minutes before we were balls deep in a discussion of something political, or literary. 

Probably both.

And we laughed, and we danced and had a great time. At one point a couple of the girls went to the bathroom, and while we were touching up our makeup one said to me, 

“You know, everyone is betting you guys are hooking up tonight.”

And I know they meant it with all the kindness in the world and I know they meant it from a place of thinking he and I would be good for each other and I know they said it because we have chemistry and blah blah fucking blah. 

You know what also requires chemistry? The best kinds of friendship. 

The truth is, and it’s been discussed with him, many a time; if we dated, we would fucking kill each other.

To say nothing of the fact that we are wholly incompatible. We want fundamentally different things, in our partners, in our futures. We want to be in different places in the country, we want to experience life in similar and yet completely dissimilar ways. 

He came to spend the weekend with me on what would have been his wedding day. And you know what we did? Smoked cigars, drank a shit ton of whisky, and talked about books.
Because he’s one of my best friends, and that’s what best friends do.

I really, truly, do not understand when (cishet) girls and guys get jealous when their partner has friends of the opposite sex. 

Seriously guys? Do you just want your girlfriend to be with her female friends all day? More than likely, you will either end up in an argument over why you haven’t gotten her a big ass diamond yet (ITS BEEN 6 MONTHS, CHAD. WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?!) Or, she’ll dump your sorry ass because she’s been surrounded by the friends who won’t tolerate your shit. 

And girls, do you not want him to have the friend that he can go to and say hey it’s Lauren’s birthday and I have no idea what to get her please help me what’s the difference between a size 6 and a size M? (So much. So much is different.) 

We need balance and perspective. And that balance and perspective does not need to include romantic chemistry.

This friend and I, we’ve known each other for coming up 13 years. And we’re there for each other, we support each other. We edit each other’s writing and know not to coddle the other. We’re comfortable enough to actually talk about how we’re feeling and when we’re having a bad day, which isn’t something we do for many people. And so believe me when I say, we also know we’re never going to date. 

But I will happily wing-woman him, give him advice and brutal honesty when he needs it. And he will tell me when I need to raise my standards because the current fuck boy is treating me like shit, or when I should be patient and wait for explanations. 

I had a phone call the other day, with that same group of friends from the wedding, and I mentioned his name. And one said, you guys are definitely the “if we’re not married by 40, we’ll marry each other” friends. 

We’re not, though. We’re the friends who say, your partner needs to like me and my partner needs to like you so when we’re stuck in the old folks home together and we’re still debating trade policy they know to continue on with their bridge game because we’ll be here a while. 

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On Art

We’re not speaking right now

Your choice, not mine. You have admitted it’s not my fault

So I can’t tell you to your face, or even over a message

The song is beautiful. I’ve told you that before, months ago, when I heard you first perform it. But. I’m happy for you. I’m happy for the show and your single and.

Yeah

It hurts I can’t tell to you this. When you’ve told me I did nothing wrong. When you were the one that gave me apologies.

We were close, I do believe that. You lied and told the truth in equal measure.

I wish I didn’t care that you still look at my pictures. I wish I didn’t care that you blocked me from yours.

I want to share it, tell the world how amazing you are

But you’d make me feel pathetic for it.

Your song is beautiful.

Whether I get to say that to you or not.

On the Ride

It’s one of the first things they tell you, it’s repeated and repeated and repeated. By the instructors, the textbooks, the videos.

Keep your head up. 

Because the wind is blowing against you, even with your helmet you can feel it. The throttle is beneath your hand. 

Eyes on the horizon. 

Your first time riding a motorcycle, and it’s terrifying. I don’t care who you are. Even on a tiny little 125cc engine, you feel it go, how little it takes, and it’s goddamn terrifying to have that kind of power. You’re running through exercises, trying to remember everything they taught you. Trying to remember how to shift gears and how far out your bike needs the clutch and where the fuck are the rear brakes, anyway? 

And they tell you, don’t look at the ground, when that’s all you want to do. 

I tried this, after the first day of class, to look up more when I was driving my car, walking around the city, etc. My posture has been dreadful for years, and it’s only thanks to 2 years of bodywork and ballet that it’s starting to feel less grotesque to hold my head where it’s supposed to naturally be. 

That being said, I still, far more often than not, look down more than ahead.

And trying it, the wind blows at my eyes, making them water, making my left eye stream, (it’s never the right, for unknown reasons, like only half of my brain is experiencing some traumatic event). It pulls against where my triceps want to go and makes the constant pounding across my forehead worse. And it feels unnatural, like I’m staring everyone and everything down in some perverse contest of self importance. 

All that is to say, you remind me of riding a motorcycle.

Because I am fucking terrified of everything you make me feel. 

I told you this, one bourbon filled night, that you scare me, that having this love for you is frightening beyond measure. And you held me, my head against your chest, and told me of course it was, the fear was a part of it, and you understood. You were scared, too. 

Do you remember the night, lying on your living room floor, you looked at me and said, “I didn’t think anyone could tie you down,” ?
And I told you, “I want to call you mine.”
The cutest, most wonderful smile spread across your face, and you pulled me down to kiss you. 

I knew, I was in for you. 

But you know that you are a first for me.
The first “I love you,”
The first of so many emotional steps.
And those are much, much bigger than any physical thing we could possibly do. 

You ride on a bike, and the wind is flying past you, and you’re holding onto a machine and trying to remember to look up, to not be afraid, when in truth it is new and horrifying and why did anyone think you could do this and give you a license to do this and let you loose on city streets? 

I have survived you leaving me once before. And I keep hearing things about this girl who had you then, and try to keep my bitterness at bay. But the more I hear and the deeper into you I fall, the less restrained I become. 

I hear it in your voice, in their voices, when you all talk about her. 

Everytime you say she called, or you have to tread on eggshells because of her. 

I hear the hurt in you. And the more I care about you the angrier I get. Not just at her, but at you. For choosing someone you knew would hurt you again, and again, and again. And in that process, hurting me too. 

I understand, if you had been happy, then we would not be ‘us’ now. But I think that would be easier to swallow than knowing we both went through hell just to wind up in the same place. 

Keep your eyes on the horizon. That’s where you find your balance. 

Except, we’re not in the same place. I became somehow simultaneously more jaded, and more vulnerable to you. Found the ability to be open and tell you that you, who you are and what you give me, is what I want. Is what I’ve been wanting. And you not just found your way back to me, but are even more of what you were and who you are, and have opened yourself to me too. 

I love you, and I know you love me too. We can say this to each other, now. 

Look up, look up, look up. 

I remember the first time, on the back of your Harley, holding on to you for dear life, knowing you wouldn’t let anything happen to me. And you told me afterwards, that with the seat placed as it was, I didn’t have to hold on, I could let go. 

I will survive, if you leave me again. I will not cause scenes, or chase you down, or show you any of the hurricane that would be inside me. But I would also never come back again. I think a part of you knows that. But I can’t help remembering, when you give me glimpses to a future that might be ours, that this is not new to you. These feelings that are so true, promises made in a moment that could disappear as fast as it came into being.

I hate that I still feel this way. That I can’t let these feelings go to just believe in you, and in us. 

I want to feel the engine beneath me and soar up the hills. I want to look out to the sky and enjoy the ride, without fear, without a sense of impending doom. 

Loving you has been less scary, with every passing day. 


I can only hope the bike will be the same.

On A Drunk Text #2

Does the liquor bring my name to your lips 
The taste of smoke 
The sweetness of the oak 
Does it remind you of me 

Does drinking make you think of me 
Of your whispers in my ear 
My skin under your hands 
My softness against your strength 

Because I think life has done me an unkindness 
In that those people that meant the most 
Came back, eventually
In one form or another 
The grief both dissipated and compounded by a never ending presence 

And time flows like honey 
All at once, more quickly than you anticipate 
Then slowly, drip by drip 
And I’m watching the end of the spoon, waiting, as it crystallizes before my eyes 

Waiting for your message 
Your call
Your anything

Why am I only this eloquent when I’m not sober 
The words, the emotions, buried
Like the French long forgotten in that December so far past 

Je voudrais parler avec toi
Je voudrais passer de temps avec toi
Parce que tu me manques 

And I know you will come back 
Eventually
But you know I will leave
I have left you before
Forgotten you in summer nights
Shut you against the cold of this city

So I’m left with that song
The lick of the guitar
The taste of rye an assault against my throat
Your name on the tip of my tongue 
And swallowing it down and down and down 

And pretending I don’t miss you
Until you appear again, with that simplest of questions
“How have you been?”

You are like an itch in the back of my skull
A place I can not scratch without you there
No matter how much I pretend I’m getting over you

So, my love, tell me.

Is it just the bourbon talking

Or do you miss me too?

On Repetition

How did I do this to myself again 

How did I let myself fall into this again? 

And why am I still sitting in this bar, waiting for you to look at me and say you want to go home. 

I’m listening to your friend’s girlfriend talk about poetry and how classical music is more legitimate than others and speak of her nihilism so that you don’t have to deal. She’s talking to me about her art as if it means anything that she only writes in moleskins so you can play your goddamn pool game and I’m just sitting here like. 

The fuck is wrong with me. 

Because I want to leave. I want to leave and go home and remember what it feels like to cry. 

What the fuck have you done to me. 

I felt better when I was around you. I felt whole, I felt like a better, calmer, more fun, more relaxed version of myself 
But today I feel like I’m trapped in the spin cycle of a washer 
Wrung out like a rag, twisted and misshapen 

You asked me 
I don’t understand how I’m not hurting you 
But right now, you are. 
I feel like hell. 

And I did this to myself
And I’m doing this to myself the longer I stay 
The longer I let myself remain in this place where I am just inherently unhappy 

You didn’t want me here 
I can see that 
Can you tell me to go home? 
Give me something to do other than chaperone for the people you don’t like
Telling me to order your drinks, watch your shit, take your photos 

Fuck 

Why can’t I walk out the door
Why can’t I leave without saying goodbye 
Make you see I am the farthest fucking thing from okay 

How is it your friends know more about my life than you do 
People I adore, who will be gone the second I develop the self-respect to say no, I deserve more 

 It is so inherently fucked 
That you told me you hate yourself 
So you don’t want to commit yourself to me 
And I hate myself so much
But I just want to commit myself to you 

I don’t want to hate myself 
I just want you to talk to me like a fucking human being 
And that one thing I’d asked you for
To tell me when you’re done
To tell me if you’re leaving me for someone you loved
You can’t do.

So now, I sit here, rereading through these words, remembering my drunken self writing them and wishing they were more melodramatic than they were 


But this is the truth

I thought I could handle your heartbreak and I can’t
I hate how much I want you
I want to be stronger, and I’m not.
You told me you would hurt me, and you have. 

Are you happy you know that now?

On Separation

It begins as it continues as it ends

It’s a street sign that looks different. A shop sign that’s changed. The renovations have been redone. There’s construction lining blocks upon blocks that warble your senses of direction. 

And you come back, and you come back, and you come back 

And suddenly, it’s not your city anymore 

But you don’t think on this, as you arrive. You don’t think of what has changed and what is no longer there
Because you’re being questioned in a customs line
You’re being told these things flat out.


And if this isn’t your home, where do you go?
Because there isn’t here. It never will be, it doesn’t want to be. You don’t want it to be.

And maybe it’s not so much that you’re missing your home, as that home no longer exists.
It was a fleeting moment in time you can not go back to


Really, would you want to? To forget everything you have learned, everything you have done, and go back to the person you were yesterday?
Just think of what your bar tab would look like.


And you can long for what is gone, but maybe
You should not dwell on the feeling of your heart split in two
But rather,

Can you extend your heart to somewhere new? Can you love what this has become, and what that is now?

And one day, can you wake up when you arrive where you are going and say
This is now mine, too.

It doesn’t have to be today.

But someday

Maybe.

On Time

It’s been over a year since I saw your face

So why is it

That I’m suddenly reminded of things I thought were gone

Of that night in your garage
Of you holding me steady, your hands on my knees, my hips, as I try to balance, reaching for something high above me
Of the feeling of your smile

I don’t want you back
I don’t want you back
I don’t want you back

I hear a song,

And we’re back on your couch
We’re doing nothing, together
You’re telling me you like my legs
Your roommate is making us drinks

Four months after you left
I started seeing Someone Else.
And he made me happy, for a moment
And when he told me what you didn’t think to

When I felt the crack and saw him falling through
I held on like he was a man thrown overboard
Desperately trying to pull him back to me
When he’d wanted to jump in the first place

He wasn’t what you were
But I tried to convince myself he was
Because I couldn’t do it again
Couldn’t have the same reason twice in a row
Couldn’t be the inbetween

The rebound

The pause button

Again.

These things have been repeated in my mind, in my words, for so long, it feels meaningless to even try to write them out

Not that you ever would

But

You could come back to me, tell me you’re sorry

But I would want to say no.

How could I trust you again?
I can’t live in fear of your mistakes becoming reoccurring nightmares

I woke up this morning
And I don’t know why I thought of you

It’s been over a year since I’ve seen your face
And I never told you then, and I certainly won’t tell you now
But I loved you
I want my love back
I want my time and my secrets and my vulnerable words whispered in the dark

I don’t want to erase you
But I need your ghost disappear
Vanish under the cover of a smoke bomb
And leave no trace of itself behind

I need my memory to let me go

On Looking in the Mirror

Love, listen 
You gotta own up to this shit too 

Because no, it’s not your fault that he’s a lying asshole 
But it’s on you that you said

“I’ll be patient.”
“No, don’t worry about it.”
“I promise it’s okay.”

When it fucking wasn’t okay. 

Because you are the one that prides themselves on being chill. 
On never being called crazy, or at least, not to your face. 

Because you have seen women, so many women, who let their emotions ride them and force men into that passenger seat. Who can’t let little things go. 

But those little things add up. Those little things mean something. And chill does not mean that you don’t have emotions. That you feel nothing. 

And because you’ve not been monogamous, you haven’t had a real, concrete relationship, you haven’t learned how to speak for yourself. To say, this isn’t right.
This isn’t how I should be treated. 
You’re not my boyfriend, but you fucked up. 

Instead you say 
You’re not my boyfriend, so I have no right to be mad. 
Even though you are.

And that’s on you. 

For setting the standard so damn low and being annoyed when even that isn’t met. 

Because my darling you deserve the moon 
The stars 
Flowers and hugs and kisses on the cheek. 
You deserve to have your hand held 
To be introduced as, ‘You know, that girl I was telling you about?’ 

Just because you aren’t monogamous doesn’t mean you are undeserving of respect 

Maybe if you didn’t act like you knew you weren’t, and didn’t deserve to be, his number one
He wouldn’t make you his number two

You’ve spent so much time bottling it inside, swallowing your emotions down, allowing tension to creep through your shoulders and to turn your muscles to cement to contain the feelings threatening to drown you. 
And when asked a question, instead of the answer you want to give, your flood may leak over, you may speak in nonsensical ways because you are not just batting with what you should say – you are battling with yourself if you should say anything at all. 

And through the mess you see what you fear the most. 
That look of 
‘You’re crazy.’ 

But now you’re sitting here wondering why he’s not texting you when you gave him carte blanche 
To treat you however he choose 
While you say 
‘It’s fine, I’m here for you.’ 
While you’re dying on the inside 
Wondering what you’ve done to deserve this 

And you did not ask for this level of jackassery 
You did not ask to be treated like shit 
But you did not demand better 
Because you felt you couldn’t 

That, my love, is what’s crazy 
You know you deserve more 

That someone fucking up your night and saying ‘I’ll make it up to you…Netflix and chill?’ Is not enough 

That someone saying ‘It’s just so confusing right now, I know she wants monogamy but…you’re just so cool.’  And then taking her on dates but ignoring you for days on end, is not okay. 

That someone saying ‘I promise, she means nothing,’ taking you home with them, then announcing on Facebook she’s their girlfriend is some cheap shit.

You are allowed to be upset. You are allowed to feel. And calling out this bullshit should not be your responsibility – but it is.

Because you have to be your own cheerleader 
Your own advocate 
Your own coach and overprotective best friend 

Because if you don’t set that standard so high that it provides you shade is this sweltering sunshine

Why on earth would he?

On Daydreams

I’m wiping down the bar when you come in. 

The door swings open, and I look up to say that we’re closing, I already did last call, but stop when I see it’s you. And I smile.

You’re wearing a faded shirt, and those dark jeans I love so much. Boots that are not weather appropriate. Your hair is a perfectly tousled mess, but you’re already running your fingers through it again. 

“Hey,” You look around at the empty place, and stay by the door. “Are you closed?” 

I shake my head. 

“Not quite yet. You want something?” 

You nod, and try not to look too awkward as you sit where I point, a seat at the end where I can be close to you. 

“What does not quite yet mean?” You don’t open the menu I put in front of you. 

“It means, I’m shutting down, but can’t lock the doors for another fifteen minutes. So, it’s last call, basically.” I smile, you don’t. 

“I’m not-” 

“Shut up and pick a drink.” I keep working, cleaning, running mats and tools through the washer, and try to ignore your eyes on me, remind myself how to breathe, keep my heart rate down. 

You ask for the beer I already know you’ll want, and grab one out of the fridge, and pour a whisky for myself. I tilt my glass to you, and you tap your bottle against it. 

You keep looking around, not sure what to do with your hands. You tell me, “I didn’t think it would be this quiet already,” 

I shrug, and don’t say anything. I’m waiting for you to speak, to tell my why you’re here. But instead, you just keep drinking. So I turn around and keep working.

“You always close this early?” You ask. I shake my head. I lean against the shelves, looking at you, picking up my glass again. 

“I don’t want to keep you.” 

“You’re not keeping me.” I take a drink, needing something to do. I’m afraid, afraid you’re going to leave, afraid you’ll decide it’s too awkward, that you need the break of other people around, other things to be distracted by. 

“I’m glad.” 

You say it as my face is turned, and I don’t hide my smile. Five minutes to go, and I’m counting the cash in the drawer. I move around to the front, decline your offer to help, and bring the sign in, turn off the outside light, and lock the door. 

And now we don’t know what to do. 

Because we need to talk. We really do. But neither of us want to. Neither of us know how to. There is so much there that we don’t have answers to. So instead, you ask me how much more I have to do before I can leave. I tell you, not much, and finish what I need to finish. You’re nursing your beer by the time I’ve finished and clocked out, but I need another whisky. Badly. Need something in my hands if you’re here, looking like you do. You smell like smoke and something else I’ve never quite been able to place. 

I sit down in the seat beside you, and the corner of your lip tilts up in a smile. 

“Do you usually have after hours drinks with customers?” 

I shake my head. 

“Emma,” You don’t know where to start, I don’t know where to start. But you’re here, and I want you to be here. And that’s enough.






But this is my problem.
I don’t know what happens next.
I think of you and how you’ll look and what you might say, but I don’t know from here. 
Because in my mind, this is where it ends. It’s you being there when I need you to be there. To show me that you care. 


But this is not our story.
This is not you. Or anything you would do.
And I know this.


But when it’s late, and hot, and I’m about to lock the door
I wonder what it would be like if you were there, hoping to be let in.

On Distraction

If I fill my calendar 
With drinks 
Coffee 
Lunches 
Work 
Training 
Sex 
Then I won’t think about you
Right?  

If I scan through apps like it’s my job 
If I search for something, anything, that’s like you but not you 
Then will I finally forget you? 
Will the memory of your touch flee from my mind? 
Will I stop looking up when I see someone who looks like you, not want to flinch away from them, because I see you in their eyes, their nose, their movement? 

And if I keep my brain occupied enough, paint my nails to stop myself from biting them, focus on everything that is not you, then each day should be easier. If I let the days become a blur, will it take a month, two, three, before I can go back to the places you took me and the drinks we had together and not care? 

And with each day I don’t hear from you, will it be easier to forget why I wanted to hear from you in the first place? Remember that you are replaceable, that you were the placeholder on the road to something better? 

Or, is that how you think of me? As a temporary solution to a problem you wanted to ignore, to be cast aside when it was convenient? 

I will never know. 

Maybe with time 
My resentment 
And my anger 
And my hurt 
Will fade

And I can think of you the way I want to 
With a fondness and dull ache 
Instead of the bubbling of something I don’t know how to process when your song comes on 
Or when I see your book on my shelf 
The bottle on my counter 

So I’ll preoccupy myself. 
And forgive myself that I need time, and probably will for a while. 

And I will hope you don’t show up 
Making me start all over again 
Unless you’re there to stay.