The florescent light seems to make you glow as you count out quarters and nickels.
“Another dollar…. What does that make?” You look at the cashier, no shame in your eyes, only excitement that you have so much money in change.
“Five, six, eight, ten, twelve… Twenty-two.” The cashier looks at you, you only owe three more dollars.
“Alright, that should be good. You can put the rest on my card.”
We walk into the dark parking lot, groceries in hand. I’m still a little stoned and can taste the wine and cigarettes on my tongue. We get in your car and you ask me to choose a station to listen to on our way to your house. A beautiful voice sings about maps being poems, “Because you’re mine, mine, mine. Because you’re mine.” You say that this helped you get through the hardest part of your last breakup. I apologize, I didn’t know, should I choose a different channel? You tell me not to worry about it, that this song is pretty.
We carry the groceries from the three am humidity into your air conditioned apartment. Franklin and Mary Jane perk up to see what we’ve brought home, but for the most part mind their own feline business. You bend down and scratch Mary Jane’s neck, “Mary Jane!” You do this every time you pass her.
We put away the cream cheese, ice cream, chocolate milk, and fruit juice. You ask me what I want to do? I say it’s up to you. “In that case, you go down stairs and get naked immediately!” We giggle like lovers and I oblige. When we finally fall asleep it’s six in the morning.
I wake up on and off throughout the day, from dreams of Italian vacations and the sun shining on my face. I roll over and you ask if I need anything, I say I do not. You ask if I’ll do you a favor, “Depends on the favor.” “Will you scratch my back?” “Sure.”
You roll over and unwrap yourself from the sheet you’re cocooned in to reveal your pale back. I run my nails down and back up again. Your skin is incredibly soft. I run my hands down your arms and chest, your neck and shoulders. You sigh a sigh of contentment, roll over to face me, and throw your arm over me. We lay like this for a minute, and then I face my back to you and wrap myself in your arms.
When we finally roll out of bed we realize it’s 2:30 in the afternoon, but you can’t tell in your bedroom, it’s so dark it seems the sun is just rising. We go out into the humidity to smoke and drink coffee.
This isn’t love, obviously, but it’s hard to not want it to be. When you make bagels for breakfast and wrap your arms around me in the morning. When you come down the stairs with two spoons and a pint of Dutch chocolate and we curl up in bed and watch stand up. When in the dark of your front step, cigarettes between our fingers, you ask if you can kiss me. It’s small moments; it’s staring at a Jackson Pollack painting for twenty minutes. It’s drinking red wine and smoking a bowl and watching the news. It’s moments.
It’s what lovers do, except we weren’t in love. But I wanted to be, or pretend to be at least a bit longer. I just wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, LOVE ME! FOR JUST A WHILE LONGER, LOVE ME! FALL FOR ME! YOU! FALL FOR ME! YOU, STANDING IN FRONT OF ME AND BREATHING WITH ME AND TALKING WITH ME, FALL FOR ME! I’M SCARED AND ALONE AND TIRED AND YOU TASTE LIKE WINE AND WINSTONS AND YOU’RE SAD AND I’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU, PLEASE!
But it’s not socially acceptable, I don’t think.
When will it be my turn to be in love for real? Not in love over distance, not unrequited, but to walk into a room and someone look at me and say, “There she is, there she is.” And me to look at them and say the same, “There he is, there he is.”
Is it even possible, or was I right at the age of 16 when I decided that love is just angry and dark and mean and selfish? It’s hard to know for sure.