of the boy who chastised me for not caring for my books well enough—for earmarking corners, drawing crooked lines, splaying the pages, straining the spine
then asked me when I planned to wash my clothes, so he could go to the laundromat with me
He asked to take my picture with his lomo cameras, twice, I said no the first time, the second, he changed his mind.
He said he didn’t want to take a picture of me in his room, among his things.
In the summer, he refused my offer of the use of my office, he said he didn’t want to intrude into my space.
I suspect that he understands me better than he generally lets on—
You don’t have to pretend with me, he told me once
—and maybe I resent him a little for that.
You understand each other more than anyone else, one of our friends said, one night when we three were drinking in Sarah’s.
Rather they two were drinking and eating Cheetos in Sarah’s while I sat in front of them, talking, performing a stereotype, while wondering why I sat there talking and performing a stereotype, when I could be reading or writing or sleeping…
You’re here because of him, our friend said to me.
You like him, our friend said to me.
Stop lying to yourself, our friend said to me.
I think maybe I wanted to punch our friend in the mouth that time.
That’s not true.
I wanted to look our friend in the eye and say, shut up, E., go home, you’re drunk.
That’s not true.
I wanted to tell our friend: You know nothing.
I wanted to hear our friend go on as much as I wanted to be not there.
Well, what did it matter, if what our friend said were true?
Tonight, I am alone.
I am generally alone.
I like to think.
Though I think if I were smart, I would be gone, I would
detach completely, I would move my body away. I would stop the conversation midsentence—wrote David Levithan.
One must either submit or cut loose: accommodation is impossible—wrote Roland Barthes.
Guess I’m not so smart, then.
I am a fool. What we feel in the solar plexus wrecks us—wrote Brenda Shaughnessy.
This morning I woke up with this line in my head: In thrall to encounters that stand in for sexual ones, we terrorize with sense-making.
Tonight, from Google, I found the poem by Prageeta Sharma, I found that the lines actually are: In thralldom to encounters that stand in for sexual ones,/ we terrorize with sense-making,
And further: it stands in for intimacy.// It stands in and suggests that all other kinds of feelings/ and declarations yield to it.
The thing about desire is that there is no there there, wrote Jeffrey Eugenides.
One night, he told me that Camus said, the modern man reads and fornicates.
Do you consider yourself a modern man? I asked.
He said, No, I don’t fornicate.
If I were to make a declaration, to him, it would not be of desire.
…except, perhaps, the desire to cut loose, to detach completely.
I’ve made my declarations.
I should not even be writing this.
I should be attempting a different essay.
I don’t know why I’m writing this.
Try to lessen overthinking, he told me, it’s just human pride to try to understand everything fully.
Tonight, it is raining again.
In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street, is how David Markson begins Wittgenstein’s Mistress.
I am finally all that I have, is how Jaime An Lim ends “Short Time.”