My right toe felt engorged and as though it had it’s own tiny heart, the painful result of my assault on the brick wall outside the bar. Miraculously, I had found my way into a taxi and as I sat on the vaguely damp leather seat, my mind wandered the streets of the city, looking for Caleb. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t care about the pale faced boy who had called me two days ago to tell me he missed the way my hair always got stuck in my eyelashes when I slept with mascara on. Two weeks ago I was sure that I didn’t want anything to do with him if it involved lips or hands or anything near my bed. Yet, I kept thinking how desperately I wanted him in the taxi, sober and nowhere near death, with his timid arm curled around my shoulder, my forehead nested against his neck. I had forgotten why it was that I was so supremely confident that he was nothing more than a body with eyes that looked dead half the time. I had a copy of the letter with me that I had dropped in his mailbox fifteen days ago in a dramatic declaration of my undying non-attraction to him. I needed to remind myself, so I uncrumpled the cranberry stained pages and began reading, moving my mouth along with my own words as light from the lamps and signs above throbbed in and out of the back seat of the taxi.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be me. As I sat in my kitchen tonight, with the oily skin I always have after a day where I’ve been awake longer than six hours, I explained to my brother my latest theory. It’s a doughy, not-even-half-baked type of notion; the kind that the stringy haired kid with a pock marked face who murmurs to himself in the back of the class would come up with.
“Sometimes, if I think I want something badly enough, and I obsess long enough, the universe gives me exactly what I want. I mean, what I thought I wanted. So, I must control the universe then. My manipulation is that good.”
I was talking about you.
He stared at me for only a split second before we both started laughing. My lips have been cracked since that day you made me walk from my apartment to the drugstore in the cold to buy myself Chapstick because I told you on the phone that my lips were bleeding. That made me feel helpless, which I hated so I threw away the Chapstick as soon as I got home. It hurt me to smile and laugh with my brother.
“What the hell though? Seriously, that’s not good is it?”
“No, it’s not good!”
“I know, I know!”
“We’ve got some bad habits.”
“Yes we do.”
But these bad habits: my delusions, my obsessions, my skill set of manipulation that borders on sociopathism, is that me? I’d like to think it isn’t because that wouldn’t make me anything but a plastic doll reciting predetermined phrases. But I have to make room for these traitorous pieces of darkness that sometimes surface if I’d like to keep this whispering voice of enlightenment within earshot because that is what is driving me to stay alive. It’s the only companion I’ve feared true abandonment from, the positive, proportional counterpart to all that is intrinsically bad about me. The better a person is at finding the precise TV station they are looking for, the worse they are at carrying on a conversation that isn’t centered around the plot line of a grainy daytime drama. With me, it seems like the more I am able to accomplish independently, the worse I am at interacting without becoming something independent of my innermost goodness. I thrive on dimness and living in a self-imposed moral fog, because it’s fun and dangerous and has proven to result in brilliance and disaster. However, I am by no means a person that intentionally seeks out opportunities to hurt people or myself but I’m fucking sure I’m going to hurt you.
So as I was thinking out loud in my kitchen tonight, the tea kettle hissing and my brother still laughing at my ridiculous attempts to explain why I am the way I am, I saw you (figuratively of course). I think that you are the greatest thing that’s resulted from my conniving and my wayward values. When I look at you, I see this innocent person who needs to see the good in me. I know that you’ve convinced yourself it’s there and I hope you’re right. When I want to know what I am or who I am, I think of you because you’re more than a mirror. I dredge myself in these lies and when I see you digest them, absorb them, let them become a part of you, and I see you become the living lie that I’ve been telling myself. I wanted someone to fulfill my self-indulgent fantasies and you were there, vulnerable and in love with the idea of perfection. I lied to you without even speaking a single untruth. I used my eyes; I can make them say whatever I want them to. But your goodness and your decency has kept me attached to the image of your face which is the first thing I see when I wake up. Then, I realize I wish you were actually there to be lonely with me.
What I am trying to say is that I don’t know who I am or what I want. I’m reckless, self-destructive, and observant of everyone but myself. At times, there is nothing more that I want than to be alone with you, in the dark literally and figuratively. Then other times, I see myself dancing my way into some stranger’s life just to feel the rush of someone new. I can’t do that, I tell myself, because it makes me that girl I don’t want to be. But I thought it. And I willed it. I just don’t know how the universe will respond to my latest disturbing inquiry.
What matters, is that I do want it. And because I want it, unabashedly and powerfully, that want is a part of me. I want lust, not love. What I don’t understand is why you want me and all my bad habits.
I do love you though, strange as that may seem. But please, don’t come over for a while.