Things Up To Now
I ain't a big believer in destiny. I don't think that that the big, black, indifferent cosmos gives a shit about aligning stars and constellations to bring you great pleasure or joy. But I have an inkling that sometimes — sometimes, and just for fun — the big, black, seemingly-indifferent cosmos aligns stars and constellations to fuck you. And when it does, it usually plunges for your weakest organ: your heart.
Fortune telling isn't one of my greatest strengths, but this time round, I'll read your palms. This is a story we all know, a hard shoulder we've all rubbed. You meet someone. It's magnetic. Your insides flutter. Whatever. Fill in the blanks. You know the feeling. You've briefed your best friends and maybe even your mother. As is inherent to human nature, you dream about being together, about true love and raising French Bulldogs. (Whatever. Fill in the blanks.) And this time round, you're prepared to give it a really honest shot. And then, welllllll, something goes wrong. I'm not gonna say what, exactly, because crystal balls are designed to be vague. (Especially this crystal ball I'm reading from. I'm running a low-budget get-up here. Work with me.)
Your girlfriends tell you that you've dropped straight into quicksand. Their advice is well-meaning but generic: You're drowning. You're hurting. This person is not good for you. You need to let that go. But whatever form of closure you go for, it still feels like that door is eternally ajar. It leaks a cool, sharp breeze that catches you when you least expect it. It hits you at bus stops, over the sink with a toothbrush in your mouth, while you're sitting with all your best friends. Sometimes it even comes at you while you're fucking someone else. It slices, mercilessly, through both the mundane and the beautiful: a no-fucks-given slit into your human experience. And then, suddenly, you're butting heads with that big existential question: what if? what if? what if? What if, maybe, we do have a future? What if, maybe, things will be different this time round? Well, since you ask, I suppose I'll answer. Clear the fucking table, I'm bringing my crystal ball in.
I give you an answer: this is the infinite loop. Once upon a time, when you first met your so-called match, you dreamed of a future. You spent sunny afternoons thinking about their kiss and their name and their hips riding yours. And every forty-five minutes, your mind snagged on thoughts of being with them. And then, instead of all that fluffy-clouded heaven, you got this. Yeah, this. A monumental clusterfuck of stops and starts; yes and no; nothing comfortable between love and hate.
You know, this happened to me. What started as a no-biggie fling turned into a head-exploding brainfuck. It went from light-hearted conversations in cocktail bars to drunken, murky, red-eyed Sunday mornings in his garden: "Peaches, I love you. Are you in love with me too?" Sat in his t-shirt on an easy chair, I looked up from my cigarette. Do I love him too? I wasn't sure. Seven months of push and pull. Weeks of blue double-ticked messages with no reply. Days of wondering if love is supposed to hurt like this. "Do I love you, Brown?" I asked. I racked my brain. "I'd rather not answer that." His eyes wet with vodka and feeling, he looked at me, and nodded. A quiet, mutual understanding. He took me back to bed. He held me, knowingly. He told me that we should dream big. "I can't wait to move out. I want us to be together."
But then, distilling all those units of alcohol, the universe looked down on me for a hot minute, and blared a spotlight on the sharpest part of my mind: why are we always talking about the future? I thought. What about now? Right fucking now? Morning sunshine bleeding through his curtains, I saw what I needed to know: this isn't it.
After breakfast, I went home and untaught myself everything I thought I knew. I scissored off that foolish part of my mind trapped in the infinite loop. Cigarette on my balcony, I take pumping moments to teach myself that I don't like him and that I don't want to be with him. But most importantly, I teach myself that I already got what I wanted. Everything I secretly asked for had already been delivered. The dish is on the table. (Baby, there ain't no desert.) So I tell myself to stop imagining what a future with him will look like. Because I already know: things will be exactly as they have been up to now. Bad.
(I'm not in love with you, Brown.)
An adapted essay from Conversations About Paradise, by Timea Suli.