There’s frost on my windscreen like a transparent sheet of glitter, and if it catches the moon at exactly the right moment, it lights up my entire street. Damn, I hate the dark mornings and the cold on my fingertips. I wait for the de-icer to dissolve glitter like rain drops in the snow. My mind wanders to you as I ease away from the curb. I matched with you last night. Do you remember how you felt when I responded to your message? February feels long but I feel settled here in the talking part. We fill our days getting to know each other, dancing between flirting and sexting and sharing intimate details about our family and our dreams. My God, I’m terrified of what will happen when you discover I’m not as perfect as I seem on my profile.
We’re huddled together in a 1920s-themed cocktail bar in central London, and you’re so close to me I can smell the cologne on your skin. Your bright green eyes fix on mine every time I speak, every so often dancing to my lips and back again. But I don’t give into it, not yet. We chase each other around the city, learning about each other and laughing, your hands on my thigh and my fingers in your hair, and we stand on the platform at Islington and you pull me into you, and the entire world goes silent.
You’re gone. You’re gone so much of the time and I’m crazy out of my mind and the back and the forth begins. Seeds of doubt are planted in my brain and you water them daily; sometimes I think they’ll choke me if I let them, and sometimes I do. You disappear to Barcelona for a week and I see dancing girls in rainbow disco pants on your Instagram feed. I imagine the two of you drunk on the taste of each other and I feel sick. I question why I fall for people who have no desire to catch me and I kill myself trying to be someone you might love and start hating myself instead.
Friendship feels like a band-aid slapped over my wounds, but I accept it because halfway with you feels better than nothing at all. I know you don’t want me, not how I want you, but you want pieces of me and I am willing to give them to you. Fucking you as my friend feels much the same as if I were to love you, and I wonder how friends with benefits benefits anyone because I don’t just want your skin against mine at 2 a.m. I want your laughter at 4 in the afternoon and Netflix and sweats and breakfast for dinner. This is not enough drains out of me like a last breath, but I’ll give that to you.
If you stand on the top of the hill in Alexandra Park on fireworks night, you can watch the entire city change colors, and I am standing here with you. The air cuts at my skin but I’m buried beneath your hoody and your arms are around my waist and I can’t help but feel warm, and I’m not sure if it’s the red wine or it’s you or it’s watching the city I call now call home look like an entire universe from up here. I think maybe you’ll ask me to be your girlfriend soon and I force it down as soon as it rises in me. I don’t want to disrupt the glass house you built for us, even if it only looks beautiful from the outside. It’s better to remain in something fragile than to fall apart when it inevitably shatters.
I’m drunk on everything and we both know I have no filter when my blood is full of alcohol. I ask you to be my boyfriend again but I am drunk now, drunk and frustrated, and I feel like I’m slowly being smoked out. And you are angry, angry because I keep pushing and you’re too stubborn and my God, isn’t the grey area so much easier to exist in than to just commit to me? I think about how I am all or nothing, and maybe I am nothing to you. But you are so good at convincing me the gray is crystal clear and I should just be happy with where we are right now, and I can’t stand to lose you, so I choose to lose myself instead. And heartbreak looks good on me—I’ve been wearing it for my whole life.
Your apartment looks different when I’m fleeing it and your eyes look different when they’re angry, and this emotion doesn’t sit right on your face as I pull on my coat and order a cab. I know I won’t be back. I know you like me but not enough, and I am seeking so much more than you could ever provide. I knew that all along, but when it comes to love, I never did know how to love myself.
You fire me an angry text as I clamber into the back of the cab, but you don’t follow me. I tell you once again that I want all of you or nothing, because this halfway feels like hell and I’m forgetting how it feels to be whole. I think about all of the cab rides we’ve had from outside your apartment into the city, how our palms rested in the space between us, our fingers locked as you made polite chit-chat with the driver. But right now there’s only the sound of the radio, and my thumbs are hovering over our Whatsapp conversation, and this feels like drowning and coming up for air all at once and I don’t know what that says about us.
But the silence that follows confirms everything I always knew—I only ever had almost all of you.