This was originally written in the spring 1998. I came across it last night and thought it would make an interesting addition to my nodes, since it is indicative of issues I've been dealing with for some time and have only now begun to work through.
"So where are we going today?" I ask the driver of a used AT&T van, my new poet friend, Chris.
"How bout Audubon Park?"
"Sure." I start unlacing my Chucks, dangling my feet out the window. Buildings roll by. Buckled sidewalks clogged with strollers and exposed roots of antique trees on a somber Tuesday afternoon.
" I wish that kiss had been awkward," he says as I study his profile to find that overconfident smile I always find. "I wish it had been awful. But it wasn't."
The kiss was over a week ago. I crashed at his place in the burbs on another night I should have just stayed home. On his way to bed, a bed he shared with Evangeline, I laid one on him. Neither of us mentioned it the next day and I had been congratulating myself for not having brought it up at all. I wasn't the one seriously involved with a cute, live-in bisexual. Hell, I wasn't the one with anyone, yet I had Chris and a string of other loosely defined men. "I'm sorry."
He laughs. "Being a little bad is OK."
He meant as long as we didn't have sex, he could tease me as much as he wanted and it was OK. I used to wish for this kind of ambiguity. I thought it was something I could handle since the only thing I did know was that wanting someone seriously didn't seem to work. I am in between most days. Chris hides the type of friendship he has with me from Evangeline, and that makes me feel awful, because I don't wish her harm, even though she doesn't really like me as a person. But I also know that I like Chris in more defined ways than he claims to like me, and I enjoy playing with the bounderies.
My new roommate's boyfriend Stacey gives a lot of perspective when I spill my stories about these men to him. He leans his head against the wall at the recitation of new names and faces they've not seen much of in the house, faces I've made a point to replace often.
"If you hade just a few consistant people in your life, you probably wouldn't talking about them so much, but because they're always new..." He rolls a Drum cigarette with one hand.
"That makes sense, I guess." I run my hand through what's left of my hair, wishing I had some clippers. Maybe I should just shave my head, start over.
"You need to tell Gage what you've told me."
"I know. I just hate to hurt him, even though he's a hypocrite. I feel like I'm the only one who can hurt him or love him, at least in his mind."
Now Gage is my only true ex. Almost a year now. After him, I've had nothing but the female bachelor mentality, whether the guys I am interested are aware of it or not. Gage and I have had sex a few times after we parted, but then things went sour and got sweet again. He wants to have sex with me again, after telling me that if I kept my legs closed I wouldn't have to worry about who I met at the R Bar, after telling me that our individual love lives were things were never to discuss between ourselves, after realizing that I am seeing someone else. I'm always seeing someone else. I will always love him, but it is that failing kind of love. I can't fuck him anymore, though; there's no point.
Same with Chris. We will never have sex, if I have anything to say about it. I can't say why, but I think it may be his legs. They're too big and hairy, like Barney Rubble. I wouldn't mind making out with him, but he sees that as being equally self destructive. He told me once that if we did have sex, he'd break up with Evangeline and show up on my doorstep the next day, as though somehow I would trust him. Please.
I tally the names every now and then. So far I've counted 14. Mostly one-nighters; only a couple were actual interests of mine. Well, to be honest, only one, and he broke my heart. Maybe this guy Jud, who I met at the Soap Opera a week ago, will be a second.
He was folding towels and watching me translate triple loader instructions. The one who called, the one who I wanted to call me. I joked with a waitor at work that to get my number from my hand is probably the only special thing I offer these days, since most guys get my number through alternative means. And they keep calling. John called for a week, and now he's saying he got a shirt of mine and don't I want it back? The shirt was left behind by another Jon, who I kicked out of my apartment once he got moved into his own. I had fucked my roommate while still with Jon, and obviously I didn't care about him, so why would I care about his shirt? But John doesn't know any of that, and it's for the best. I am a heartless bitch.
"What's with the emaciated torso you keep going for?" I had told Stacey that Jud and Gage average 140 in a deluge. Gage still wears his 8th grade size. I've even dated a thinner boy. David the Goth Boy. That one was awful. Wore dresses and shit. Ick. After him, I learned not to fuck where I work. They have to quit for me to get rid of them. Too drawn out.
Joe is married, one of my guy college friends, who emails me these manifestos of consciousness that come streaming from his 3am mind. He says I have men on the brain. The manifestos come in single spaced multiple pages. He helps me keep it light, talking of finite and infinite games. It was his injection of human interaction as play that enabled me to toy with the bounderies of both Chris and my ex. But now, I want out. I want Jud.
Jud, from Texas, with his Buddy Holly glasses and bleached, spiked hair. His silver watch and sweet way of touching my shoulder while passing my chair as I sit for no reason at the cafe where he works, drinking free iced coffees and trying to organize a pile of Chris' poems. He has asked me to go through them and put them in some sort of order, so I am doing it at Kaldi's and watching Jud bounce around. Jud, who hasn't yet asked about my past, who I've only talked to three times. Jud went down on me on the first date. He's sleeping at my house right now.
Someone, tell me I'm not like this anymore. Tell me I was never like this, that I can not be her anymore, so heartless, so empty. I refuse to believe that this is the best I can do.