Dear ______,

I know that little about me makes sense to you. I know, too, that in this script I am supposed to shrug despondently and tell you that little about me makes sense to me, and I understand your confusion. I am supposed to say that. That is my next line. I am supposed to deliver it with a weary care, a note of  sadness.

It isn’t true and I’m so very tired of lying.

There is a pathology to my emotions, a precise science to my highs and lows, my wild swings from a place you know how to find and that wild country beyond. I have studied me my entire life, I have gone beyond my doctorate, I am an expert in my field. I know how to repair myself, and I can map out the more important place, the area that shows you how not to break me.

When we met I thought about writing you a technical guide to the thing that I am, but I know that things like that are in the category of reasons that I never win. It would make perfect sense and someone else could know me, too, I could have a colleague in this, my life’s unwilling work, but to give you the book implies a belief that you want to know. I am far too frightened a field to ever suggest such a thing, even when I believe it may be true.

This is one of the most important things that you do not know, this fear that leaves me wild-eyed and breathless behind whatever I am pretending to be. I am afraid of all the things you think I might be afraid of, but I am afraid of so much more.

 I am afraid that you will not like what you learn, that will find behind the skin of me a blood unbearable, a thing that is so many things you never needed to know. This I suspect you know, and know you suspect.

 I am afraid that this machine that I am was manufactured to live landlocked with love. I am afraid. I am afraid.

But I am also afraid that I will not want you studying me. I will not want you wanting to know all that I know, all the ways the tiny wires connecting the meat of me make me the things that I am and will be. This is where my science becomes as cruel as science tends to be, and makes the scientist mute. I can’t tell you that I fear I am only saying your name in reverent tones and while sweating because I need to say something, I need to know someone else’s name and believe that they know mine, and you are here. You are here.

I am afraid that I am always right when I am afraid, and I am afraid that this tested result is consistent.

 I am afraid that you will never ask what I haven’t told you yet, and it isn’t simply fear that makes me know that if you don’t I never will. I could tell you all the ways I work, all the things that leave me on the ground two steps too close to the edge and unable to work my way back. I am afraid that you are just another you, and not something different entirely. I am afraid that I know all of you now, and there is nothing new to learn, I am afraid that you are only what you are and not any of the things I think you could be.

I am afraid. I am afraid. I am afraid. I am accustomed.

Compulsive overeater. That’s what the doctor called me. She called me that right to my face, and I couldn’t respond, I couldn’t say one tiny thing in response, because I was too busy being stunned by how wrong she was. And wondering what she had on under that white coat. I mean, I could see her pants and her sensible shoes, her beige blouse, but what I was wondering about was what was underneath that. Not so far under that we’re talking about her bones and organs, the way her blood flows, not even so far that we’re talking about skin. Just one layer under the beige and the brown. I was wondering if under that was black and lace, and I have to admit that I was hoping desperately for the answer to be revealed and be no. I wanted the answer to be more beige and more brown, huge beige panties and a tiny brown bra that I could make her leave on while I was fucking her. I could just bunch the beige in my hand and shove it aside as I shoved into her. 

This is what I was thinking when I was busy being shocked that she, a doctor, could be so wrong about me, a patient. My mother says they call us patients because we have to have patience if we want treatment. That seems like assigning them a characteristic that they do not have, a sense of humor. I think a lot of what we call paranoia is just believing that human characteristics can be applied to something that is not human, which maybe they can, but then you add believing that you know what character traits they have and why and nothing makes sense anymore. That’s what I think. My mother says a lot of things that I think this about, but instead of telling her I just hug her yellowed paper skin to mine and say something soothing, and I don’t let on that I am also thinking about what is going on under the nightgown she is always wearing. I don’t let on that during the touching of my skin to her skin I am wondering if she still gets wet, if that is perhaps the one part of her body that I could touch and not think about dead leaves. 
You asked me what the doctor said. That is what she said. She said that I am a compulsive overeater, and I was too busy thinking about her bent over the table where I am sitting in a too small paper gown, bent over and waiting for me, bent over and spreading herself open so that I could see that she is ugly, too, to realize that this would be my only chance to tell her that she was wrong. I am not a compulsive overeater. I am constantly eating food because if I don’t, I will eat me. The only way to make sure that I don’t is to make myself too large to be consumed so easily. 

It’s only three AM, but I’m considering staying awake forever. Not just for tonight. Sleep and I have this love/hate thing, it’s the kind of intense you know could be for real. We could go the distance, fists flying, fists fucking, fisted flailing. We could be real. I don’t understand it when people tell me you can’t love what you hate – how can you love what you don’t hate? What do you hold on to in the middle of the night when your lover is still gone and the light left hours ago, and they don’t answer the phone, and you call and call and you call and call and you call and call, and at some point you stop leaving messages but then you start again, and you try not to sob too much, but then you end up screaming and you can’t for the life of you figure out whether it is better to threaten or to beg, if you can’t hold on to hate? What do you hold on to on those long and ugly nights if you are not holding on to hate to hold on to sanity to hold on to this stupid relationship with this person whose face you just want to break into pieces, you just want to shatter, you just want to slam into the concrete like it was a pillow while you fuck them from behind? If it isn’t hate that makes love possible and tangible, I don’t know what it is. 

 

 

Anyway. It is late here, or maybe it is early. This is one of the many things I have never been able to fully understand, like if you should tell people your horror stories so that they will feel sorry for you, like the one about the time when you were so, so young and so, so trusting and then your dad threw a huge marbled glass ashtray through the window, the noise it made was obscene but kind of perfect, and you knew you would never be quite the same again, you knew you would always know that there was something violent right around the corner, or if you should keep them to yourself so that people will see you weeping quietly once in awhile and they will think that you are perfect and mysterious and so, so strong, and they will want to be like you but they will also not want to be like you because really they will also be thinking that you are so, so cold. Like that. I do understand whether it is early or late like I do not understand what to do with my horror. 

 

It is whatever it is, and I am not sleeping. I started out not sleeping because there was work to be done, but then I didn’t really do all of the work and I am still awake,  not doing the work, and the work is still not done and this is a thing. It might be a good thing and it might be a bad thing and it might just be a thing that is, but it is, undeniably, a thing. Instead I am listening to noises and drinking a beer that someone put coffee in (bless that person, I could not decide if I should have coffee or a drink, but then I found this in the back of the refrigerator, it may not have been mine originally, but it is now and I am grateful for this as I am grateful for anything that takes a decision and makes it something I do not have to make) and I am that kind of tired that is not tired, that kind of tired that wants to pretend that it is really not at all anything, not any kind of thing, it wants to pretend it is the opposite of tired, but it can only do that if the eyelids will sign a pact and keep to the treaty, and they are considering breaking it, the tired can tell. 

 

So I am almost sort of tired, and sleep is a long way off, because there are so many things that need to be done, besides the work. There are so many things to read and write and say and do, so many people to greet and hug and fuck and punch in the face, the gut, the groin, so many apologies to make, so many thanks to hand out. There is always so fucking much to get done, and it is this that makes me lie in bed for hours, staring at the ceiling and thinking about the way light works, because if I don’t think about that, I have to think about all the things I should be doing when I am lying in bed staring at the ceiling thinking about the way that light works.

 

When I am doing this I am feeling like I am 14 years old, and then I realize that I don’t really recall being fourteen years old, and I don’t really recall being fifteen or sixteen years old either. It isn’t that I don’t remember anything that happened when I was that age, it is just that I don’t remember what age I was when the thing I am remembering happened, and even when I think I do, I am later proved wrong. Time went non linear on me so long ago, and now there is no lucid chronology I can use as a point of reference. Even saying that time went non linear so long ago  feels like it could be an accidental lie, like maybe it was last week or a month ago or two years ago that it did this thing to me, and then I have to spend at least an hour (I think, who knows?) knowing that so long ago  means something different to everyone, or maybe it means something different only to me and I do not know that it means the same thing, a set thing, a set amount of time, to everyone else because this lack of chronology extends itself and becomes a lack of language to describe chronology, becomes a lack of everything everyone else has where time is concerned.

 

So it is what time it is, here, and it is what time it is, there, and the two are different things but also I am fairly certain that they might really be the same thing, and time differences are just a trick played, a lie told, a practical joke. I was in bed staring at the ceiling thinking about the way that light works, when I remembered the way that light worked when you were lying in the bed with me. It was exactly the same as it is now that you are not in this bed with me, and just there, in that moment, in that one uglydumb moment, I knew that I never loved you and I never hated you, and I think my heart might actually be broken forever just from knowing that.

 

I thought you should know, too.

 

That might seem cruel, but it is the only way to give myself a tiny piece of hope, you see. When I realized that I never loved or hated you because light worked precisely the same way without your presence as it did with it, I also realized that you might be lying somewhere, or maybe sitting, or maybe standing, and realizing that light was not even one tiny bit different without me, and then you would know that you never hated me and so you never loved me, and that is a thing I cannot bear. I simply cannot bear the idea of you knowing that, and so I thought if I told you this, that I never loved you and i never hated you, never, no matter what I said or did, the times we fought and fucked like forever, like forever and ever amen, the times I fucked you in the street, the times I held your hand and bought you ice cream, none of those times, none of them meant nothing but none of them meant three little words, I thought if I told you this then you would hate me and you would hurt and you would reach out and lash out and you would try to hurt me, and maybe then I could hate you. If I could hate you now, maybe I could love you now, and maybe loving and hating you now would somehow get lost and tangled in my lack of understanding of time, and I would believe that it was then that I loved you, then that I hated you like a thing I wanted to kill, and everything would be okay again, and I could go to sleep. It is the only thing I can think to do for us. 

 

Do you understand? I want you to.

 

 I hope this finds you well.Good night. (Is it night?) 

 

When I run into a coworker in the bathroom, and we’re both washing our hands, I won’t say anything if they don’t. But when they do, and we’re talking about whatever the weather is doing or how glad/angry/sad we are that it is whatever day of the week that it is, what I really want to tell them is something about themselves, something probably no one has ever told them because no one feels free to be honest but for christ’s sake, if you can’t be honest in the bathroom with your hands dripping wet while you’re awkwardly reaching for a paper towel, when can you? 

I would have told her that she desperately needs to have some fun before it’s too late, and that we never know when it will be too late and it’s possible that it will be too late by the time our hands dried, and that if she wanted I would take her with me. Somewhere. 

 

I never want to see you again. The first time was only not the worst time because of it’s promise to be the last.

I don’t need to meet you to know you. In my head, we’ve spent at least a dozen years inside one another, filled to the forever fucked brim with every little misery we could offer up together. Our minor happiness was only a brief fantasy, a shared dream that inspired a devotion that bordered on cultlike- we were never what we wanted so desperately to believe in. We were never capable of anything even similar. I wish I knew the way to make you see that we’ll rot in precisely the same pattern, alone or tied to one another, lockstepped and ever as lonely as we are at this moment. I CANNOT CONSOLE YOU, I cannot offer absolution in my skin or the seeming sinew of my limbs. I have nothing to offer you, and it could never have been otherwise.

What we had didn’t mean absolutely nothing, but we ourselves did. We needed so badly to believe in the possibilities offered up by what our child-selves didn’t know enough to keep. But, it seems to me that we will never be the right people at the right time. I know it seems insane that I’ve decided this without your physical presence ever sharing space with mine, but it’s a singular aspect of my borderline psychosis, this decisiveness.

And above all else, be decisive. Make your decisions like a decapitation. Cut off the head in one swift, hard motion, or you’ll never sever the stem. This, I’ve learned in all of your absence.

Absence itself is a physical presence. It is a thing to behold, but never to be held. It is also, curiously, my fate never to be held again, I fear.

This time, right now, is the best we could possibly have. I can’t pick up the phone and call you, I can’t make a solid date, with a time and a place and an assigned activity, because if I did, I’d be that one step closer to meeting the reality of what we are or will be, and I don’t think I’ll like you as much then as I do now. You will never be as perfect as you are now, with phone conversations and the ideas of you in my head, the ideas of us in my head.

 

Right now, today, you know that I think you are interesting, interesting enough to talk to at least and that’s something,  and that I find you not unpleasant to look at. I know that you must not find me revolting, as you seemed in no great rush to stop talking to me, and, already knowing what I think of you, you agreed that drinking coffee in the same place at the same time was, in fact, a better idea than not doing so. But we know so little past that, and I can build us better on that nothing foundation better than we will be built on our something. 

 

I’ve heard that people often make the mistake of falling in love with a person’s potential, what they could be but probably never will because no one is ever quite as good as we think they could be. That’s true, I don’t imagine people are just making that up to have something they can hold responsible for their inability to choose a good mate, although that’s plausible too, actually. We all want an explanation for our failures, and an explanation that makes us look hopeful and trusting as opposed to crazy and delusional is obviously preferable.

 

This is not that. I am not falling in love with your potential, as I don’t even know you well enough to know what you might be capable of if you truly exerted yourself. Rather, I am falling in love with our potential. I am falling in love with the idea of us in a café, passionately discussing whatever it is we might feel passionate about that day, with us on a beach walking in the rain, with us making people uneasy in the most wonderful ways, with the way you’d push back your hair and I’d smile because it gave me an excuse to look at your hands, your perfect hands, with the way you’d use the hands to hold mine in public, as if to tell me and everyone else that I was with you and not anyone else. These are the ways I picture us, and if and when we do go to get that coffee, it’s not even remotely likely that we’ll live up to that. I won’t fall in love with you, you won’t think I’m beautiful in the morning with no make up on, and we’ll quickly enough become an obscure memory I’m able to dredge up from time to time.  We’ll be forgettable sex and a wasted week.

And even if, even if I do fall in love with you and you do fall in love with me and we don’t sink into our respective anonymous holes in each other’s minds, it won’t be the way I see it in my head. You won’t bring me flowers and I’ll find your hair in your eyes annoying instead of endearing and the holding of hands in public will be just one more thing we can have a petty disagreement about, and in the middle of all of that there will be beautiful things between us, but they won’t ever be as unmarred as they are where I’m standing right now. 

I can’t remember the weather the night we met. I want to say it was cold, but how would I know? Drunk is the best jacket, after all, and I was, as is so often the case, either drunk or well on my way. I can’t remember the weather, but I remember that I was on the verge of being rude. It seems sometimes that I am always either on the verge of being rude, or being rude. 

 

Maybe it was the whiskey, the weather I don’t recall, the strange city we stood in, or the quick glimpse I caught of the lines around your eyes. Whatever changed my mind, it changed it fast, and I decided without deciding, without knowing that a decision had been made, to be charming instead. Or some version of it. 

 

We talked. What we talked about is another of the many things I don’t and won’t recall throughout however long we know one another. It could have been important, it probably was. But if it was, it isn’t, and if it wasn’t, it still isn’t. It hasn’t become any part of whatever story we’re writing here, and it’s too late now. I know you just a little still, but that little tells me that you don’t recall either. 
You know what I was wearing, and you know what I was doing when you first saw me, but you don’t know what I said to you. You were watching my lips, but you weren’t reading them. Then, when your lips were on mine, a circumstance I may have caused, I wasn’t speaking anymore, and the words I wasn’t saying didn’t matter any more than the words that I was. 

 

I was full of whiskey you didn’t buy me, and joy you didn’t bring me, and something told me I would know you. 

 

And so I do, after a fashion. 

 

It kills me, as it always will, that you think you know me. That you think you can read me, and predict me. That you believe you have figured me out, and that you are never going to be right, because no matter how well I get to know you, I’ve already figured out that you will never get to know me. I’m not really certain why that’s the truth, but it is. I can’t figure out if it’s a lack of interest on your part, a lack of willingness on mine, some blend of both, or something more ethereal, something I can’t put a finger, my lips, or a name to. 

 

You told me not to fall in love with you, and it couldn’t have been less necessary. You are stunning, all wide shoulders, dimples, that smile and the eyes that make the smile never die. You are witty and sly, elusive and in the moments that you do exist, you make the world shrink and expand in time to some music only we can hear. But you are not a man I will fall in love with. It wasn’t likely, but when you assumed that I might, you killed the possibility in it’s sleep. It didn’t toss or turn, it simply died with a quiet sigh, and it was for the best. 

 

I want our now to be, and I want our now to be better than we think it is. I want our now to be adventures and excitements, I want the one thing I will not have. I do not want you to be my forever, I do not want you to fall in love with me and I do not want to go back and lazarus my being able to fall in love with you back into existence. I want, instead, for at least a moment during which you realize what I am. What I am capable of. I want you to look at me and know me. It is more my fault than yours that that is impossible, I am always, almost accidentally, telling tiny lies even when I am not speaking. I confuse myself, and I hide what is best about me. It is always this way, but given the limited nature of time, there is no time for you to find out what I am like when it ends. You will most likely never find out what happens when something is broken inside you, what happens when the sunlight hits and I feel we need to enjoy the world more than anyone else. 

 

Despite all this, I see something ahead, if not far ahead. I see something that won’t be unforgettable, but won’t be forgotten, either. 

 

 

 

I’m still looking forward to now.