Sometimes you don’t feel the right emotions. You can’t make someone love you in the same way you can’t make yourself happy when you’re not. Or sad, while we’re on it. Why do we feel what we feel? There has to be a thesaurus for the way you’re feeling, maybe an antonym instead of a synonym.
Sometimes you’re at a restaurant, a bar, with a handful of people who think they know you quite well but the truth is bubbling in your throat and that second vodka water isn’t helping. You swallow and pretend there are monkey’s in a barrel trapezing their way from your gut but you can’t say that out loud so you just say “I love this song.” even though it’s an okay song but you think the singer is a bit out of tune. Everyone will agree, and there’s a beautiful man who will smile because it’s a band he likes and he likes that you like it, too.
You can’t always be surrounded by friends at a bar, sometimes you’re in a car with a beautiful man and he’s outlining all the reasons he could get Natalie Portman to sleep with him if they were to ever meet. He’s trying to be funny but you’re distracted by the way your watch lands on your wrist when you rest it against the window. You tell yourself this feeling of comfort must be what other people want. It’s not boredom or disinterest; it’s comfort. The four doors lock you in and you’re secure, safe. Tucked away in a metal blanket with Lady Gaga on the radio and his voice echoing in your head. Add comfort to the list along with compatibility.
You have to travel with the beautiful man, too. Not far, just from point A to point B. You can’t always drive, because you live too close for it to be environmental- and because he finds friendship in the bottom of a beer. You have to walk from your place and he has to walk from his, but you can feel miles between that walkable distance. You might see him on the street before he sees you, but he won’t react. You meet up and take the headphones out of your ears even though you’d honestly like to just keep walking and finishing your favorite MatchBox song. You have butterflies in your stomach and tell yourself that it’s weird since you didn’t eat caterpillars earlier but you realize that’s a strange thought that you can’t say that out loud so you say “I love this weather”. He’ll agree that it’s a good temperature even though it’s a bit muggy.
You tell yourself being social is better than watching Sex and the City on your couch, because that makes sense. You’re emotionally invested in this person and you’re supposed to feel as if everything they do is for a reason. Romantics say you should feel as if the band from the Titanic is playing your heart strings like a violin even though that sounds almost painful and not at all like walking down the street with this beautiful man.
You’re alone with him in a crowded bar now. The beautiful man is across from you at an irish pub that sees more of you than your parents. What’s the appropriate length of time to stay? You see an old boyfriend walk out of the bathroom and you pray he doesn’t come to say hello because you’re with a different beautiful man and even though he’s not your boyfriend it might hurt his feelings.
The girls in the booth behind you are talking about their new makeup or how much they hate men or something equally stereotypical in their cut off shorts and crop tops, and you resent it when the beautiful man says “girls are idiots” but you’ll look away and try to stab an almond out of your bar-salad. You think about how much easier it would be to eat food if everyone just blended everything with a mixer and served it in a bowl with a spoon but that’s weird to say out loud so instead you say “I love that girls top” as one of the ‘idiot-girls’ gets up to go to the bathroom. The beautiful man shrugs and takes a sip of his beer, checking his phone. You realize he’s either looking for someone else to talk to or he’s looking at the time. You wonder again what the appropriate length of time to stay is.
The waitress comes for the 4th time and you realize that you don’t care if the beautiful man orders another beer or if you just pay and go. You suppose you’ve been charming, listening and asking questions, but you’ve just been making eye contact as well as lists in your head of different types of food you hate and celebrities you think are underrated. You’re supposed to care because he cares. He pays the bill even though you hate letting people do that because you want to be a strong independent woman; but the truth is you’re a little broke and he invited you.
Now you’re on the street again, walking the distance to your homes. He invites you over, and normally this would be when you go home but something about his nonchalant-douche bag shrug makes you want to spend more time with him. The monkey’s are all out of the barrel and the band has stopped playing, so you join him at his apartment. The darkness of his apartment helps, because you can let out your stomach bloat and don’t have to worry about the stress acne developing on your chin from gaining weight. It annoys you that all of his mugs match because you believe it shows a lack of creativity but the thought of him buying them makes you smile so you tone down the judgment and start to think about how easy it would be to find the indian in the cupboard since most of his are bare, but that’s not a normal thing to wonder so instead you say “I love that painting” and nod your head to the mostly blue, relatively avant-guard depiction of a lake that hangs on his yellow walls which you realize is probably a paint color called “daffodil of the sea” or “thunderburst” which you both hate and love and are still trying to figure out how you can do that.
The beautiful man is talking now but you aren’t paying attention because you are now distracted by his watch, making you wonder when you stopped wondering about your own. He told you he resented his father and that he gets hives from grass but you were more curious about how social interactions like this happen to other people and weather or not outtie belly buttons are from pulling too hard on the cord, but you definitely know that’s not okay so instead you go to say something but he opens his mouth and says “you’re beautiful, you know.”
You try to make eye contact but he’s too beautiful of a man so you look at the drink you forgot was in your hand and don’t even notice your watch. You have nothing to say because a beautiful man just called you beautiful and that’s not what’s supposed to happen so you can’t react based on social norms of reaction. You decide it’s a good idea to start telling the truth so you say “I know.” and you don’t mean it to be arrogant you’re just very aware of the definitions of beauty and that you fall under the category. He gets up for another beer and when you look at him your chest feels weird but you can’t decide if it’s the band playing or the monkey’s in the barrel so you go back to thinking about him buying ceramic mugs.
You sleep at the beautiful man’s apartment even though you have to get up early and you already gave him your wonders about your watch. You’re supposed to feel close right now. One minute you’re in a bar with your friends and an out of tune guitarist and the next you’re planning the next time you’ll go to the irish pub and sit across from a beautiful man. Thesun makes everything different because nothing is beautiful when it’s not in shadows. He’s miles away, metaphorically of course, since he’s an arms reach across the bed. You wonder how many other people have been brought home by this beautiful man and told that they’re beautiful. You want to go home and blend your food together and wash your face, but he rolls over and you like his warmth. You’re embarrassed because you know you grunt in your sleep, hideously unappealing grunts that your ex boyfriend used to think were cute until he stopped loving you. Some part of you knows it’s not the last time you’ll be in this beautiful man’s bed because everything fell together pretty simply and you hate complications. Comfort. Compatibility.
You’re walking alone and you happen to see the beautiful man not too far away, you know he sees you but all you get is a small wave in your direction. The night before he told you he resented his father and that his hearts been broken, but you decide to look at him as if you don’t know the last time he’s cried. That’s easier for everyone, and you assume it will aid with your want for simplicity. The beautiful man isn’t complicated because all the two of you have to do is be beautiful together.
You can’t always be simple with this beautiful man, sometimes it’s hard. You’re in his car months later and you know the feeling in your chest is pain and the monkeys in your throat have gone planet-of-the-apes-style and if you have a vodka water they’ll be too hard to swallow. Your words will come up like monkey’s and even though the beautiful man deserves every synonym in the world for insensitive asshole, you know you’re not that kind of person. You have been emotionally invested for a while and spent too many hours on his couch wondering about his watch, so it’s a little hard to take when you’re in his car this time and you don’t actually care. You want him to stop looking at you because he doesn’t deserve it not because you’re worried you don’t look right. You’re wishing you’d walked because his presence doesn’t feel as velvety smooth as it used to. You want to ask him if he believes loneliness can be cured but that’s a weird thing to say so you just say nothing. He’s still talking about another woman he wants to be with or how much of an asshole he can be, so you agree and say “I love this song” turning up the radio loud enough to drown out the beautiful man mid sentence. You look out the window and adjust your watch to face you on your wrist.