I slept on the couch last night. I felt like a visitor to my own life.
The night before a stranger held me. Tightly I could feel his heartbeat, I dragged my fingers across his chest. I wanted to be far away, be immersed in a moment while he told me all his brokenness. I can’t make you whole, I thought. I am barely pieces glued together moving through the days. I have what I create, running from intimacy, cutting connections before they begin.
Always leaving he said, always leaving. I can never be gone fast enough while he told me about his summers in Vermont. He told me about his accounting degree, how he’s waiting to hear back. We are twenty-four, always waiting to hear back. What do we do in-between? Because it’s the in between we feel safe, we feel lost, we feel more than we are ever willing to admit.
The boy was whispering his goals into my hair, but I don’t believe they were his. I told him numbers weren’t for me. I didn’t like rules. Instead preferring to make them whatever I felt. Numbers don’t understand feelings, so perhaps the perception is reciprocated. When his spreadsheet can cure the evil I’d like to know. If he designs an algorithm to create safety, I’ll be right there behind him.
I hope I see you again, he said. And I wanted to laugh. Because hope is a verb. A cognitive process. Something I barely understand when my roommate explained it and my poetry become confused. I stared at my painting as it rested against the wall. He was still talking, something about a lake and rain and a kayak. I wanted to ask him what he’s created, what he likes to do. If he does anything intrinsically.
But I was so irritated with my painting. It wasn’t perfect, it kept getting worse. The opposite of creative is perfection, when it’s the process I should care about. I lost sight of what I was doing. Caught up in what it could’ve been, not what it was. He had stopped talking, I hadn’t noticed. He shifted and asked what I was thinking about.
What’s the opposite of a moment, I said. Help me find numbers to describe my thoughts when I can’t articulate them with letters. I wanted him to leave, but his eyes were blue and he had a six-pack. He was not whole, however, there were broken pieces underneath his chest. I wanted to tell him no amount of crunches would make him anymore of a person. That perfecting his outside won’t fix what’s on the inside. But, instead I closed my eyes and shifted into his chest.
Earlier in the night, we agreed we both only liked sports with clocks. And I wondered if that’s why it appeals to me. I’m always so sure human connection is going to end. He told me about a recurring dream he has. He walks around, lost in his home town. He tries to ask everyone around for directions. He realizes someone is walking next to him, or following him, a person without a face. No one can speak as he walks around in circles. It always ends with him finding his way to his street, distance doesn’t matter in dreams. The faceless person stands next to him, but he isn’t able to walk to his house. His legs become heavy, his feet become glued. That’s where he always wakes up. I told him maybe the faceless meant he needed connection.
He said maybe. We fell asleep.