I’m not good at this. That should be painfully obvious. Like stepping-on-a-Lego-buried-deep-in-shagged-carpet-in-the-middle-of-the-night obvious. Like running-a-marathon-after-a-year-of-being-a-couch-potato-and-wondering-“What-the-fuck-was-I-thinking?” kind of obvious. It’s taking-up-the-Bird-Box-Challenge-and-taking-an-evening-stroll-on-the-expressway kind of obvious. It’s like reading-then-watching-every-adaptation-of-The-Diary-of-Anne-Frank-and-hoping-this-time-it-will-be-different kind of obvious.
I’m allergic to pineapple. And kiwi. But I will eat kiwi more times than not. Say, we’re at a fancy dinner. I’m dressed up and you’re dressed up and everyone’s dressed up. And there’s music playing, and people are swaying. But we’re not dancing because: (A.) I can’t dance to save my life despite bragging how I took a dance course in college (but that was years ago and it was modern dance) and, (B.) I’m too busy coughing up a storm because the spread contained kiwi and I rarely buy kiwi (you know, because I’m allergic to it) and I love kiwi (despite being allergic to it) so I still eat it and now my throat is raw like I swallowed a swarm of bees and they all stung at once.
Speaking of dates. My idea of the perfect date is staying home with a good book and some distance between us. It’s not that I’m not interested in you. It’s not even that I don’t want to know you. It’s just being around someone I’m interested in leaves me thinking of all the ways I’ll inevitably screw this up. Because you’ll say you’ll take me as I am, but in truth, you’ll take me as the illusion I’ve conjured up for you. Beneath this veneer, I’m a more of a landfill than a mess that needs reorganizing.
Depression hits me like a bag of bricks. I took antidepressants for a year, but they only made me feel less human than usual. Sometimes, I amaze myself with small feats. Getting out of bed. Dressing myself. Grooming. Manage to walk out the door and not run into oncoming traffic. It’s a voice inside my head giving a history lecture on all my failures. It’s the meteorologist forecasting the future ones. It’s a gallery of ex-girlfriends and possible love interests.
Being a father scares me. I have no point of reference because every father figure I had left me before I came of age. My grandfathers died three years apart. My own father is more a stranger than someone I owe half of my DNA to. And the years that we’ve been apart, he still manages to find away to remind me that I’m not something of value in his life. Despite all my reaching out, he mastered of the art of pulling away. And as a sickness grows in him, I can’t help but fear that this permanent loss of a man who never gave me a second glance isn’t something I’m prepared to handle.
I’m not sure if my jaded view of romance is a product of my parents’ divorce or my own shortcomings as an adult. Or if it’s because these days I put more importance in wondering about the next time I’ll eat tacos rather than wondering if I’ll ever allow myself to fall in love again. And that’s it, isn’t it? I get to choose when I’ll get tacos, but I’m powerless over my own emotion.
Asking me when I’ll get back on the horse is equally annoying as trying to set me up with someone (and that’s only happened once, and I shut that shit down fast). This is because it demeans my decision of being single. See, I have a type. You can call me shallow if you want, but the person must have read more books than the years they’ve existed. They must have a library card. A Barnes & Noble membership works, too. Better yet, be employed at a library or Barnes & Noble. And, yes, I confess there have been a string of flings and crushes. I’m only human after all. Please understand that I’m no stranger to being alone.
How do I write a poem about you and not give you my history? Because I like you and that scares the shit out of me. I know what it’s like to kiss the girl in the fast food parking lot and knowing there’s no future. I know what it feels like to wait for an answer that was never meant to be received. I know what it’s like to love someone for ten years and lose them. Most of all, I know the difficulties that come with being in a relationship with me. That I give it my all but ignore their feelings. That behind every I-love-you there’s an escape plan. Because I know love isn’t a flame, but that doesn’t prevent us from being burnt. I know the difference between saying I love you and being in love. Because I don’t fall for people; I plunge. Because I treat love like an allergy. No, an allergen. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, with you, love is like a kiwi.