LETTER: To you, as I realize this is poorly timed, by Heidi Eugene

Editor Staff, Letters, March 27th, 2015

"first surprising things about dating someone of the same sex"

kaethe butcher art nailed magazine
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Do you ever wonder how, and why, certain thoughts come into your mind? Standing in line, feeling not drunk enough, I keep thinking about when “pussy” stopped being a cat and morphed into something much more devious. I don’t know why I’m thinking this. I don’t know why I’m even in this long line, out in the cold, for an expensive gay dance club, actually. Or I know, but I don’t know if it’s my best decision. When I finally get in, I find you in line for the bathroom. You give me the sweetest welcome, a long drunk kiss. It’s Saturday night. We have been “hanging out” for two months.

A question for someone else: How would you describe the person you’re infatuated with? So difficult, to do it with accuracy and without sentimentality (which is embarrassing and boring).

While you’re in the bathroom, I get a drink and wander over to the dance floor. I’m already happy with illusory weekend joy. Everyone here is friendly and clad in green light. You wander over, grinning and swaying, looking amazing in that gray T-shirt. It’s my gray T-shirt, actually, borrowed earlier this evening before we parted to join different friends at different bars. It occurs to me that I would like to see you wear all of my T-shirts.

A note: This is one of the first surprising things about dating someone of the same sex: the [intimacy]/[jealousy] of wearing each other’s clothes and [wondering if they feel cozily wrapped up by you]/[silently comparing the fit].

I’m practicing my dancing. I want to be aloof and sexy, but out of a lack of skill and the jokey habits of insecurity, I always end up doing something stupid, like the robot. Even so, you dance close to me and sometimes lean in to kiss me, apparently not repulsed by my dancing. I like being drunk with you.

“You should hang out with us more,” says one of your new friends when we stumble back into their circle. You have been inducted into this friend group by your new roommates, you are in a different world completely since breaking up with your boyfriend two months ago and moving out. You’ve been trying to help one of these new friends decide whether to write “social drinker” or “often drinker” on her online dating profile.

I feel caught in an uncomfortable situation. Do they see me as the girlfriend? We’re not really each other’s anything, I want to yell to your friends over the din of the music. We’re not labeling anything.

A reassurance to you and me: Sometimes, it’s okay not to label anything. It can be freeing to owe another person only your kindness and affection and respect. Of course, you may also feel confused and more than a little anxious (and by you, I mean me). That’s okay too. This will pass(?)

I recently read in one of those chin-up-young-people type articles that the brain doesn’t stop developing until age 28. This article told me that my feelings of directionless in my career (I don’t have one), the occasional urge to slap myself for being an idiot in social interactions (yes), that’s all normal. Most of all, it’s normal to feel lost when it comes to romance. As we grow, we sometimes grow apart from our partners. Bla bla bla. Everyone has read this kind of article. What good is knowing something is “normal” when it gnaws at the pit of your stomach? The impossible dual urges to avoid commitment and to find a way out of aloneness is heavy in the sweaty, vomit-y dance floor air of gay and straight bars alike.

An exercise: Pick someone you care about. Try to imagine everything they will think about today. The things that excite them, stress them, grieve them, comfort them.

If you called us “dating,” which you don’t, I would be the second person you have dated, and the first girl. Five years with your boyfriend. Everyone, including me, saw the two of you as the picture of real love. Tall and beautiful like fucking JCrew models. You co-owned a cat and never fought, as far as anybody could tell. I imagine you listening to NPR together in the mornings, drinking Intelligentsia and wearing soft white robes over your flawless bodies. Then it ended, out of sexual incompatibility or restlessness or some indefinable 22-year-old brain chemistry. You and I started hooking up occasionally, on weekends or late drunken work-nights. This began when you said, I’ve always wanted what I think I should want and I said, what do you want? and you said, you, and that was more than enough for me.

A request for advice: Was this stupid of me?

On the dance floor, you move with a dizzy and dizzying loveliness, dipping and swerving with the perfect amount of hip. Small, secretive mouth. Grecian nose. Incredible ass. That’s how embarrassingly infatuated I am, to attempt to describe your ass and your “Grecian” anything. I try to downplay it. What would I want from you, if everything was on the table? I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t want you to push me away, I never know what you’re thinking, I feel defensively sure that all you know of me is the shy, passive side I can’t help putting on with new people. We are still almost strangers with each other.

A game: If you were going to write a poem for someone, would you do it in the style of the Romantics or the Modernists? Sentimental or puzzling? Idealistic or doomed?

One of your friends notices you stumbling and taps me on the shoulder. “You’re taking care of her, right?” he yells over the music. I go to order us waters. I like taking care of drunk people. I like doing anything with a clear purpose. When I come back, you’re flipping him off, a teasing grin on your face, telling him you can take care of yourself, thanks a lot. This is true—you can. I hand you the water. When you hand it back to me empty, I put it in my purse. It’s a plastic yellow cup with the name of the bar printed on it. I’m excited to take it back to my apartment, which currently has a shortage of cups.

A reminder: At 23, you do not yet have everything you need to be a fully functioning adult. You have to be creative to get what you want. For example, if you don’t have a rolling pin, use a beer glass to make your piecrust instead.

Say what you will about the shortcomings of youth–the financial insecurity, the lack of professional power, the general chaos of it all—the sex is incredible. I have never before seen and will probably never again see a body like yours. And I’m not so terrible myself. The way our bodies slide together is not to be taken for granted. We’re good. I’m constantly thinking about fucking you, but it’s not in the quiet moments after sex that I feel closest to you, it’s in moments like this, stumbling to the coat check where the club attendant will tell you that if you have lost your identifying coat tag, there is nothing he can do for you.

A personality test: Are we alone in the world?

My mom, who is hundreds of miles away and always does her best to hug me over the phone, tells me things like, just be patient and the world will show you your path, and, I have every faith that you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. My guess is that your mom is the type to give similar advice, although I know for a fact that you do not believe in fate or souls beyond the cells and synapses we are composed of. I’m not a romantic or anything (I tell myself), but I do like to believe in something connecting all of us. A sort of blanketing, protective ghost. This is what I rely on, anyway, when after three blocks you ask the cabbie to pull over. It’s 2:30 in the morning, and we never got your coat back. You vomit into some bushes while the cab screeches away.

A poll: Do you prefer ominous, ongoing queasiness that may subside, or would you rather just throw up and get it over with?

We get in and out of three cabs, your nausea dragging us again, and then again, from warm enclosed space into the dark unknown night. What’s it like to leave something so stable as a five-year-relationship, so young? You are not the type to talk in length about your emotions. Am I as reactionary for you as a physical impulse? I would understand, I think. It’s hard to leave behind a vision of your life with someone. Everything afterwards might be blindness for awhile. It’s hard to believe that things get easier. They might not, for awhile.

A warning: Sometimes I imagine being really understanding and gracious in the face of rejection, and then I feel comforted that because of this, rejection won’t ever arise to test me. This is magical thinking, I know.

A month ago, over popcorn made and consumed at the end of a similar drunken night, you told me that you really liked me but couldn’t make any promises. Then, with a kernel in your mouth, you said, “but can we agree that we’re having a fabulous time?” I think those were the kindest things you could possibly have said to me.

A promise or at least a hope: Everything will work out okay.

When we finally make it to my place (you have lost the key to your place), you lean against the wall to kick off your shoes and then fall into my bed. I brush my teeth and take off my pants, crawl into bed next to you. You sigh, a small sleepy sound. I don’t want you to go. But I think you will, and I’ll know that it couldn’t have happened any other way.

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Header image courtesy of Kaethe Butcher. To view a gallery of her work about the erotic relationship between women, go here.

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Heidi Eugene letter nailed magazineHeidi Eugene is currently trying to make it/fake it in Chicago. She is an MFA student at the University of the South, and is working on a collection of essays about entanglement (whatever that is).

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Staff

More than one editor and/or contributor was responsible for the completion of this piece on NAILED.