All the Red Flags

People are getting together and breaking up all of the time. All of the time. Right now, there could be a man waking up with a surge of adrenaline, thinking today is the day — today is the day he will finally propose. And there could be a woman, half a world away, shaking off the fog and steeling herself to slip out of bed and silently strip her half of the closet bare. She could be thinking, today is the day — today is the day I will manage to leave. Make it beyond the driveway.

These stories could be unfolding at exactly same time. One heart so full it could just burst, one heart so skewered it can’t even hold itself up.

Do you ever think about these types of things? These are the things I think about while waiting for my coffee to cool, on a sunny Saturday morning.

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We’re all very confusing. Sometimes we’re not looking for anything serious, and then all of a sudden we’re looking for a not-floral, not-pink down comforter. Sometimes we’re come meet my grandma and then we’re just taking a little break. We’re interested, not interested. Sure, unsure. Mature, immature. Ready, not ready.

Sometimes we want old and familiar, sometimes we want new and exciting. Sometimes we want sickly sweet, sometimes we want slightly spicy. Sometimes we want both. Sometimes we don’t want to have to choose.

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I haven’t figured out what it all comes down to. At least not yet. Does it come down to the pair of legs you most want to disentangle yourself from, when you grope for the light and stagger to the bathroom in a half-sleep? Does it come down to the hand you most want to hold, while you sweat it out under the fluorescent lights in a too-sterile waiting room? It might come down to those things — I don’t know.

I do know one thing. That every fiber of my being is still screaming NOT READY. Not ready to try again. My arms wound tightly around my chest say it, my sweatpants circa 1999 say it, my curls slicked back into submission say it. Don’t look at me. Don’t — please. Please.

Not ready. Hell, by continuing to allude to ex-boyfriends, I even say it on here. I know just what I’m doing — I’m waving all the red flags, all by myself. I’m saying she’s-not-even-remotely-available and yikes-she-would-probably-write-about-us-on-the-Internet-anyway.

I have too many feelings, but not enough of the ones that count. The truth is I’m scared silly of intimacy. I…I like pie in bed. Pie in bed is about where we are.

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Will I ever be ready again? I don’t know. A guy bumped up against me at the gym yesterday and I nearly gave myself whiplash jerking away. If I were looking at me, I would say skittish, standoffish. And upon closer examination: self-conscious. Shuttered. I’m perfectly aware that I dim to dull, around guys. I can’t help it. I seem to save my lighting up for when I see a friend, for when I smell butter browning, for when I stumble across places full of fancy cheese.

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You don’t want me. These normal-width size 7 shoes are pinching my pinky toes. I don’t need a look in the mirror to tell me what you already know: I have powdered sugar on the seat of my pants. I drive like the grandma I’ll never have you meet, and yes, we can back up for a second — I do actually use expressions like the seat of my pants. I have calluses across the palms of my hands and I have perpetually soft inner thighs. (This might have something to do with the fact that I have a diet that oscillates between kale salad and every sugary sweet within a 5-mile radius.) I use my pockets for a purse and I’ve completely forgotten how to flirt. Sometimes I reach into the freezer for green beans and that’s just not what I come away with.

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There’s a girl over there. There’s a girl over there, and she’s open, angling, laughing, drinking. You should go say hello. I’ll bet you her bra matches her underwear. I’ll bet you she carries breath mints. I’ll bet you her earrings are new.

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I’ll bet you she would love to dance. Would love to know your name. Would love to go back to your place. Go on — go say hello.

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“I enjoy controlled loneliness. I like wandering around the city alone. I’m not afraid of coming back to an empty flat and lying down in an empty bed. I am afraid of having no one to miss, of having no one to love.” -Kuba Wojewodzki

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