when i was a kid my friends used to say
if you love something then “why don’t you marry it”
which meant that by eight i was already in a polyamorous
relationship with a nintendo 64, kickball, sister, and my favorite substitute teacher – the only one who had
the decency to ask me how to pronounce my name.

pronouncements like “i do” were only a formality back then
when ‘love’ was a shorthand to describe an invitation for company
‘marriage’ was a word we threw like
a paper airplane: no weight, let alone destination
figured it would end up somewhere beautiful
like our letters to the tooth fairy and all the stray balloons

part of the wisdom of childhood was
a refusal to accept the limitations of a body
a practice of compassion
that was open and earnest
(even though we’d go home and ring doorbells that always seemed to sound
like our parents screaming)

we married the jump rope
simply because it made our heart beat faster

married the hula hoop because
it felt good to have something hold on
and keep coming


this is not a love story as you have
heard it narrated in the past
there is no one moment.
no sudden revelation.

love was something far more discrete
that i found myself stuck inside of
like a blindfold
a brown skin, 
a man’s body, 
and a name sometimes
even i don’t know how to pronounce — 
these symbols we inherited not written in our own hands but rather stuffed in our throats
like prophecies we mistook as truth
because they appeared to come from our own lips

this is a story of growing up.
which is shorthand for
convincing ourselves that nothing matters in the world but love and forgetting everything else along the way

so when i said i loved you what i meant was
i am sorry for using you
but this word was inevitable
after you called me handsome and we shared numbers, secrets, and sheets
this was a programmed equation:

1 loneliness + another = delusion
meet his lips at 45 degree angle
from eleven inches apart hold on for
approximately 67 seconds and pretend
that it feels like forever
pretend that it will make 21 years of dreaming find proof

when i told you that i loved you what i
meant was i have learned to hate everything else
stopped believing in the tooth fairy and other dreams because
words like ‘fear’ and ‘loneliness’ cemented our throats until we could not speak past them so even though we were talking we couldn’t really understand what we were saying through all the rubble so instead we just kissed the way they do in movies hoped that our tongues would remove the blockage.
clung onto one another as if this connection alone could hold all of our chaos so deeply that we actually crushed underneath the weight of our arms and finally understood why they call it
 ‘breaking up’ 


i am no longer a kid
which is just shorthand for saying that
i am much taller
but still earnest enough to recognize that
what i have gained in stature i have
lost in truth because
i have forgotten how
how to express a desire for intimacy in a world whose only constant
is its own asphyxiation
which is just shorthand for saying that
i am twenty two years old and i could tell you a couple of love stories but all of them end in the same flavor of sadness and you would probably get bored because they taste just as stale as yours.

could tell you about how my colleagues have started using words like ‘settle’ and ‘down’ as if there is something wrong with flying. 
could tell you about how my friends these days say that they are happy and in love until they are drunk and in my bedroom weeping

how we have been taught to consume
what gives us joy
to the point of destruction


taught to pronounce the good parts
but still cannot manage to name the violence


the reason we did not work out is because i loved you too deeply
which meant that i forgot about everything else
clung onto you
instead of opening my arms to all of the friends, stars, and paper airplanes
that surround us

so i am trying to remember a practice of compassion – not consumption – a way of relating to the world that is not selfish or
possessive. when i hold you what i am doing is trying to make a collage out of all of our ligaments and lies and i am trying my best to make it beautiful in a way that’s not artificial but rather persistent like friendship and movie nights and breakfast. like sister, mother. more about the ugly, boring, and irregular. the scenes in-between the kisses – the ones we have been disciplined to ignore.

which means that the most radical happiness we had was when we were five years old and could distinguish between love and loneliness. which means that i am breaking up with love and propositioning the whole entire world instead.

to the friends who put up with my shit for years /
to my mother who nurtured my politics /
to the city that keeps me awake / 

i am sorry. i am back. i am yours. 

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