You know there’s little to love. Just an open palm waiting to hold yours on those Tuesdays you might just tell your boss that speech you’ve been rehearsing for years. Chinese takeout sprawled on the coffee table, crowded boxes around cheap dollar bargain candles makes them tower like the buildings in midtown. Like your living room houses a whole world in a miniature city.
Her picture is there next to yours and the stark contrast is blatant. She is bright and always leaning, her still smile moving like the wane of a wax stick. Yours is reserved, meaning but trying not to. A little sadness dampened in the twilight of your eyes and crows feet.
“It’s too hot for movies about fish,” She whined at The Shape of Water.
Your apartment always had open windows because air conditioners are fucking expensive. And our generation may be complacent with all the opportunities available, never having to have had walk ten miles barefoot to get to school, but when the WiFi is down and the housing market crashes- we make do.
“Run a cold shower,” You said, always the pragmatist. Incapable to see any conversation as anything other than a back forth of searching for solutions. Ever the architect, building systems wherever there’s a hint of chaos or dissatiafaction.
She loves and hates that about you and does this thing when shes had enough- throws her arms in the air and lets the wind take her. Stage falls stage left to the sweaty elbow sofa, groans as of she’s been shot or generally tired of your shit.
“We could get an AC?” You said, softly kissing the hole in her basketball shorts that are actually yours. “Think of all the energy we’d waste and hard working children in China we’d be supporting.”
“Goddamn commies,” She chides, tracing a shape on the wooden floor her top half dangles from the sofa.
She is afraid of conflict but likes hunger games, to play the satire of being awful knowing you obviously mean otherwise. The third and final girl you’ll ever love, which is a good thing. The feeling wasn’t as stupidly hot blooded as the first, careless as the second, or hopelessly astray as the little ones whose name you pretend not to remember in between. That was the year you peaked, emotionally; your very own golden age and platinum summer.
She took you to the beaches in Guatemala and you learned how much you enjoy lazing away in the sun with a good book local hand-rolled cigarettes. You dragged her to Amsterdam, the south street seaport docks and all your other dark and lonely haunts. It was a confession of sorts, somebody else had to see all the terrible places you’d been, even if you only told her some of the stories behind the monuments of your misdeeds. She commented how they all had one commonality, one motif. They were somber places that made her reflective, made her think. And you felt better about your past because of her, because maybe that’s the why behind all those bar fights and 4 am wanderings. Instead of mischief and a terrible sense of not belonging anywhere.
“I want a picture of you,” she said. So you flipped the camera on your smartphone, crossed your eyes as best you could and hit send. She laughed.
“No, a real one. Something to write your name, the date, and how you make me feel on the back of it.”
Slowly slipping into the smooth routine of duality- two worlds, one small Manhattan apartment, a twin xl mattress and the kind of sex you will eventually only remember fondly and never masturbate to. You couldn’t, there were too many feelings mixed in those concoctions to derive solely pleasure from. Her picture no longer on the coffee table, but high on its pedestal above the refrigerator. The death of her father looming in the tresses of that bold and endless Summer. When you couldn’t bare the weight of her sadness while on the verge of reconciling yours. And so you retreated, as you always do. Not to the beaches but those dark, familiar, and terrible haunts. Because the ruin you know is safer than the one you don’t.
“What do I get out of it?” You asked.
“My satisfaction,” She replied.
And you were more the type to find another job than quit dramatically anyway.
“Sounds like communism.”