I was in town for just a couple days. It was dark and the road was shiny with wetness from an earlier rain. I was running between plans, cramming much into a couple days, trying not to be late to meet my boyfriend’s friends. It was a little east in the East Village, a little past where I usually find myself. The street was a little quieter, a little calmer than the ones engulfing it. You walked right up to me, also alone, eager to see me, like a dream, out of years of the abyss, I appeared. I saw me through your eyes, through the director’s eyes. You were eager to catch up, tell me about yourself, who you are today, on this night. You insisted we meet up later if I ended up going out. Last I heard, you were dating a supermarket heir and had developed a red head fetish.
It was good to see you out and alive. I worry about you a little less now.
It must have been a book I read, around age 12 or 13, in which a necklace charm became a focal point for adoration, sparkling in the sun, when the story’s heartthrob glanced at the story’s sexy, confident protagonist. Throughout the book, a constant in an ever moving montage of the protagonist’s best moments, game-winning soccer goals, aced math tests, and movie outings with a giggling group of friends. That necklace was always there, always glistening around her neck. I think it was a thin, corny chapter book, designed to teach the reader SAT words in a fun context.
I adopted the bumble bee as my charm. I selected one smithed in rose gold to balance the yellow hues in my olive skin. I resolved to wear it every day until it became my signature, until the charm became a focal point for a charming admirer. Then I could move on to other necklaces.
I waited years and years, my neck locked in a tall castle tower of my own making, the clasp to unlock it gathering dust.
One day, he asked me about the necklace. He asked and received my practiced and prepared response; I’d told the story many times before about how “miel,” the Spanish for honey, shares a common etymology with Melissa, Greek for honey bee. It went swimmingly; his face was the picture of love: slowly settling into a warm expression, like rich, European butter spread over steaming toast, finding its place in the air bubbles and crevices to lie itself down and rest; the moment gloriously checking an item off my fate-list. All I ever wanted was a response like that.
I can’t remember the last time we cuddled.
I can’t remember that Saturday night, the feeling of your chest hair tingling against my bare back, your long arms squeezing me in. I can’t remember if I went to sleep quickly or slowly. If we were warm or cold. If we woke up easily or groggy. I tried so hard to savor each night, bathing in your navy sheets and dusty room, but I can’t remember the last time we cuddled.
Every boy loves Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I’ve given so many blow jobs to that movie.
I ate the grits. I ate the grits his ex brought back from Texas. Swallowing whole a steaming spoonful like cannibalism, devouring the remains of what I destroyed. I ate the grits, swaddling the microwave-warmed bowl against my bare knees, sitting on his stiff couch, facing the window, facing the world, through cracks in the curtains.
It’s weird to give your ex gifts.
Tomorrow, it’ll be a year. A year since we took the last selfies I have of us. My face pressed against you as we make silly expressions into the camera. It was a weird night. Our plans were kind of complicated. It’d been a week since I’d seen you. Almost a week since I asked you to think about where we were going.
It took you three months to answer that question. We didn’t take any more selfies in that period. But nothing else really changed.
It’s been a weird year. A lot’s happened. I’ve done a lot. I went a lot of places. I’ve erased you from a lot of stuff, but you’re still around.
You’ve met someone else. I wonder where you’ll be at midnight. I still miss you.
All the things in my brain that remind me of you
All the things in my brain marked off as things you’d love to do
The things in my brain rot as someone else discovers all the things anew
Now there’s two of us, walking around, thinking of you.
I hope she discovers all of them and shares them with you
I hope they bring you happiness as they ought to
But as you wander the world, finding things for her,
Pause now and again
And come upon a Melissa thing or two.