The key to love, my father told me, was to never love someone more than they love you. So when, after dating for five months, Christopher Moore was the first to say “I Love You”, I thought I had hit the “Love Jackpot”. I say this because, prior to him saying it at that very moment, I had never given thought to the possibility that I could love him in return. Standing in front of my apartment building, nervous and excited, facing him and his smile, I questioned whether love was the word to describe what I was feeling. High school love, after all, is quite trivial with it’s ins and outs. Nevertheless after weighing the theoretical pros and cons of love, I decided that I was in love, at least in some respects. He was handsome, smart, sweet, and I enjoyed his company. This is what I believed love boiled down to; four factors. Honesty, clearly, was something I overlooked. About a year and 7 months into our blissful love affair, after graduation had passed and we had spent the summer taking all the cliché couple pictures, Chris decided that he “just couldn’t go on lying to me anymore. “Jenine” he told me “this guilt is eating me alive!”. I imagine there wasn’t much of him left, as it had been “eating away at him” for 6 months. This is when I learned that there is no “key” to love; no guide, no tips, no 101 course, because love is lived and learned; never taught. Try as you may, to forgo the pain of love, you’ll find joy in knowing that it’s survive-able and moreover, sometimes the good outweighs the bad. No, Chris wasn’t the love of my life, but he gave life to my ability to love.
“Never” my father said “let love override your faculty of reason.” Easier said, than done. My next love was Jeremy Bishop. Before you ask, of course there were others between Chris and Jeremy. But this is a story about love; not “almost loves”,“semi loves”, and “could’ve beens”. Jeremy’s love was the worst kind of love. The kind that doesn’t have a reason to exist but somehow it does and you’re glad. Its sole purpose is to debilitate your mind, forcing you to follow only your emotions. While Jeremy was dreamy, I learned that the man of your dreams can sometimes be the root of your nightmares.
I met Jeremy my junior year at _________ University. It was a Sunday and I had been studying in the library for an anthropology midterm and decided that I would take a break. Putting my highlighter down & flexing my hand I stood up & headed towards the bathroom. As I walked through the stacks, passing my hand across the rows of books I’d never read, my friend Denise spotted me and waved me over. Walking swiftly I made my way to the table she was stationed it & gathered that she had been studying all day as all. Splayed papers, open textbooks, two highlighters, & her laptop with several window open screamed “cram session” to me. After having sat & talked for some time about school & it’s “scammagry”, I noticed that someone had taken a seat at the end of the table. You know those typical movies where two people look up at the same time & smile coyly at one another? Well that’s what happened with us…….minus the smiling. When Jeremy & I caught eyes it was more of an inquisitive stare down. I relented because who really stares at a stranger for lengths at a time? Apparently Jeremy does because every time I looked up he was looking at me or perhaps through me. Whatever the case was I asked Denise if she could “Excuse me for one second?” as I got up from my seat and sauntered over to Jeremy, running my fingernails along the wooden table that both separated and joined us.
He was brown skinned but it was a rich brown that I often found myself lost in. He had brown hair that was cut low to avoid maintenance & also to spite his mother who so much loved it longer. His eyes were almost black they were so dark, yet you never asked someone to hit the lights when staring into them. He had a slight dimple on the right side of face that only presented itself in the presence of his mother, its creator.
“I know you or something?” I said, to which he looked up & responded “No you don’t. But since you’re already here, I’m Jeremy. Nice to meet you….” he said moving his hand in that circular waiting motion “this is usually the part where you tell me your name”. He was sarcastic & forthcoming and I liked it. “This is usually the part when I’d say Jenine. My name is Jenine. Though I’m not sure it’s nice to meet you.” “Well Jenine, do you have HIST 256 on Mondays & Thursdays? I think that’s where I’ve seen you before.” “Well Jeremy, had I known you were a stalker I would’ve stayed at the other end of the table” “A stalker Jenine? Really? I think you’re mistaking my keen eye for details.” “I stand corrected then. I just had no idea I was noticeable to your "keen eye”, I said, making air quotes. He leaned in & said, “Maybe Jenine, just maybe there’s a lot of things you don’t know. I’d be happy to fill you in though. If you were ever free.” “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me, Jeremy, that you’re asking me out.” “It seems that way, because it is that way. But enough with this, would you be interested in going out?” “I’ll contemplate it.”
A week later Jeremy picked me up in his beat up silver 2010 Toyota Corolla. Got out & offered to close the door for me not because he was a gentleman but because I literally couldn’t close it myself. He told me he wanted to show me his favorite place in all of Brooklyn. We drove for about 15 mins and parked in DUMBO; my favorite place. As we walked to the pier he barraged me with every menial question from favorite color to top five movies. I stopped his questioning because I realized I knew nothing about him. “What about you?” I said. “Tell me something I don’t know about you.” “I’m a Taurus. Now back to you.” “Your sign. You gave me the third degree and in return you tell me your astrological sign??” “I’m really not that interesting. I kind of just go with the flow nothing special really.” “I could say the same about myself but you don’t see me spewing monotonous facts about myself” “That’s just it though. You’re very interesting. I see you twice a week & you never look the same to me. Always a different hairstyle, new lipstick, different outfit. You keep me guessing & well…I like that.” “Different outfit…Did you expect me to have the same clothes on like a cartoon character?”
Jeremy took my clothes off the way he took down my walls; slowly & intently. I never felt exposed or vulnerable. It was easy with him & who doesn’t like easy? The first time we had sex he kissed every scar and stretch mark on my body while he whispered beautiful and for the first time I believed it. This is when I knew I loved him; this is when I knew he loved me. We fell into a routine & inevitably, that’s how we fell apart. We saw each other four-five times a week in between work, school & our respective friends. I’d meet him after work or he’d meet me after class, we’d get some food or I’d cook, we’d talk, then go back to his dorm room or my house & somewhere in between there we’d fuck once or twice & that would be that. Talk, Eat, Fuck, Repeat. This, I should inform you, was the foundation for our dismantling. Jeremy grew tired of our monotony, I suppose, & because of that he started talking to a female customer who had “just so happened” to frequent his job. In talking they “just so happened” to find they had “so much in common” & somehow Jeremy’s dick “just so happened” to be in her mouth when I walked into his dorm room to get the spare phone charger I left there just in case. “Oh Mahh Gahhhh” is what Celeste said with his dick slighty tucked to the left side of her mouth because it wouldn’t have been polite to pull it out all together; though I’m sure there was no God she could ever call her own. Startled yet surprisingly indifferent I found my charger in the first drawer of his night stand now decoratively arrayed with ripped condom wrappers and I closed the door behind me.
Walking out of the apartment I didn’t feel anything but when I reached the stairs it hit me and when Jeremy came running out of his room, pulling his boxers up I looked up at him from the top stair I was sitting on & hit him right in the groin. “Shit! Ahh! Damn, J! Come on!” he winced . “Come on?? Excuse me?!? You’re such a fucking dickhead. Like what the fuck?” “I know. I know. I’m sorry babe. You gotta believe me! I swear it’ll never happen again.” & that’s what I wanted to believe after all; that this was just a bump along our road; that we could get through this because we could get through anything. So when Jeremy crouched down in front of me, put his hand under my chin, looked me right in the eye and told me he was “so sorry”, that he “really loved me”, that he was “mad stupid for doing that” I believed him & gave us another chance because I wasn’t ready to admit failure.
Celeste Soto was the average full figured broad who just “couldn’t help” falling for other women’s boyfriends, husbands, fiancés, you name it. Walking back into his room, I found her putting her left shoe on with one hand on his desk for balance. “You gotta believe mama” she said “I didn’t know he even had a girl. You feel me? I wouldn’t have done anything with him. Thas crazy disrespectful. My bad.” as she adjusted her bra strap and pulled her hair into a messy bun. Turning slighty towards Jeremy, I looked at him as if to say “really?!? THIS was the best you could do??” and he lowered his head, and stared at this one spot on the carpet that he could never get out. Not only had Jeremy cheated but he chose the lowest of women to do it with. “First of all, I’m not one of your friends so I don’t know why you’re calling me "mama” & no I don’t “feel” you nor do I intend to. Get your shit and get out!“ When she was gone I searched the apartment for remnants of her presence, prior to that days visit. An earring, a hair tie, maybe a lip balm. I found nothing or maybe I wasn’t really looking.
For eight months straight Jeremy was on his BEST behavior. He’d let me know where he was at all times as to ensure that he wasn’t out cheating; send pictures as proof on some occasions. I have to admit, though I was secure in his whereabouts, I was also sure that this was not how healthy relationships works. Nevertheless I looked forward to each notification because afterall "once a cheater……"you know the rest. One night I went over to his place to cook dinner, partially to ensure he wouldn’t be feeding Celeste or any other girl his penis but also because this is what I missed most about us. I had become so preoccupied with deciding whether or not I could trust him that I wasn’t concerned with trying to make us seem normal. After dinner we were in his bed tearing at each other’s clothes & after switching positions five times he looked down at me & said "I can’t do this”. Looking back at him I said “it’s cool I wasn’t feeling it either honestly”. “Not this” he said falling to my side, facing the ceiling “I mean like this….us”. Somehow though I knew that was what he had meant. This ball of something akin to both fear & anger welled up in my throat & grew until finally all I could say was “oh”. One tear fell from my eye & couldn’t allow myself to shed another. “This whole time” he said getting up from the bed “I wasn’t with you because I wanted to be. I was with you because I didn’t want to let you down.” He was pacing back & front at the foot of the bed, lifting his hands to his head then retracting them, looking over at me occasionally for assurance of my understanding. So he continued "I couldn’t let your last image of me be somebody who betrayed you. I had to prove you wrong & that’s selfish. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be in a relationship I’m not fully committed to. It isn’t fair to either of us J & you can hate me but I’d rather you hate me for being honest.” “Is this a joke? Please tell me you’re kidding right now” I said, half laughing half crying. “Let me get this straight” I said, sitting upright in his bed, pulling my shirt over my head “You cheated…..You lied…..YOU fucked up….You begged for another chance!…and my stupid ass gave you one. I’m just so lost right now.” This is when I realized I never should have sat on those steps & cried. I should’ve ran out of that building like it was on fire because guys like him will always burn you.
Some nights I could still hear his footsteps pacing the floor & I’d wonder when in the hell it would be over. When I’d stop crying; when I’d realize I was better off without him. But there’s this moment & I know it sounds cliche but you just wake up & you feel different you feel like you can begin again. One morning I woke up and knew Jeremy would never have a hold on me the way he did before, but more importantly I didn’t want him to.
The thing about baggage is that you never realize how much of it you carry around. In fact you assume that more often than not you don’t carry any at all because you’re “over it” or you’ve “moved on”. You’ll find yourself compromising because you just want someone to call at night; that wants only you. “Trust me.” my mother said “There will be others and don’t think that you have to look for them or that you have to settle.” My mother had a way with words. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing but the fact remains that when she said those words to me I wished she had kept her opinion to herself. I would never settle…..or at least I didn’t think I would.
I knew I didn’t love Benjamin the first time he came inside me & I wished I had never come to his apartment, let alone into his room splayed with dirty laundry that he was “gonna get to”. More importantly I knew I couldn’t love Benjamin, not the way I wanted to at least, when he told me I’m just like my mother. This sounds stupid I know, but let me explain.
After a week of working overtime, my best friend Selene dragged me out of my apartment for a night of bar hopping. Upon walking into our third stop, Benjamin grabbed my hand & told me I was pretty. That was it. There was no drawn out conversation, no playing hard to get, it was very low stakes. I gave him my number & before I got to the next bar he had called & asked when he could see me again. “Tomorrow” I said.
The next evening Benjamin showed up at my apartment with no plan other than to show up. We decided to see a movie.
The movie we saw doesn’t matter. Neither does the fact that we went to the movies. What matters is that after we left the movies, Benjamin grabbed both my hands & kissed me. When he stopped & I looked up at him he said “You taste like stale popcorn”. I thought “what the fuck?” & then he reminded me that we shared a popcorn. Our entirely relationship was like this; constant reminders of things I should have been aware of.
Ben was different from Jeremy because he never lied to me. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a good thing though. His honesty was one that I had to grow accustomed to. We had been dating for about two months, when I called him asking if he wanted to get dinner later & he simply replied “no”. No explanation, no rain check, no apology; he just hung up. Later he’d text me & say that we should get breakfast instead the next day because he liked being the first person I talked to in the morning. He never hid anything from me. Girls would text him, telling him how much they “missed him” how much “fun” they used to have & he’d show me his phone while laughing & ask what I thought he should say in his reply. It was almost inconceivable, how much he included me in his decisions when it came to other women. Co-workers would invite him out to dinner & drinks after work, over to their apartments, concerts & he would ask me, not if he could go (because he was going to do what he wanted regardless) or if I wanted to come with, but how I’d feel if he went it with them. We’d be waiting for our heart rates to drop back to normal after sex; our skin still dewy and tingling and he’d say “the last time was better” or “you faked it, but that’s cool” as he got up and ambled to the bathroom & I’d wonder if he had to be so honest with me all the time.
I woke up one day to him sitting at my kitchen table in just some sweatpants, signing a card. Next to him there was a huge bouquet of sunflowers. I walked over to him, fixing my bed hair into a bed bun & when I sat down he was startled. “I didn’t think you’d be up this early” he said & I looked over at the clock on microwave. “It’s after 11……does that even count as early?” I said. He looked up at me, then at the clock, then back at me & shrugged “I guess not”. I asked “Who’s the card for?” & as he sealed it, he handed to me & said “Happy Anniversary Sweetness” with no inflection. My face dropped to the floor, along with the card. “An anniversary?” I thought “have we really been dating a year? Maybe it’s like a six month anniversary? But that’s not even an anniversary!” After a few mental “Fuck!!”’s, I pulled myself together, awkwardly smiled as I picked up the card & opened it. It had been a year since I moved into my own place. In the card he wrote about how happy he was for me; that he knew how big of a deal it was for me to live on my own & he wanted me to know that it was just as important to him. I cried out of relief. He thought I was overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness, primarily because as I closed the card, hugged him, wiped my tears and sniffled into his neck, I whispered “Thank you. This means a lot.”. One year of independence; something I should have been aware of.
The first time he told me he loved me, I opened my mouth to respond & he placed his index finger on my parted lips. “Stop” he said. “Not everything I say deserves or should be met with a response Jenine. I love you. That’s it.” I of course flew into defense. “So I can’t say it back? I can’t love you in return? What kind of bullshit is that Ben? You can’t just say something like that & expect me not to say anything back.” “I never said you can’t say anything back. But think about it baby, I said I love you & your first instinct was to respond. You didn’t even really take the moment in. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t want you to love me back because I love you. I want you to love me because you actually love me.” I felt little, like a child, like I had been put in my place, handled, dealt with, but I wouldn’t let him know. “You’re such an asshole sometimes” I said “but that Benjamin, for your information, is why I love you. Because you’re only an asshole sometimes”.
There are two important things I remember from when I broke up with Ben:
1. It was raining.
2. He told me I should’ve ended us a long time ago.
I came back to the apartment from the gym. As I shook my umbrella walking through the door, Ben sauntered by in his usual attire, house sweats and no shirt, saying “You must love mopping.” in a condescending tone. I happily returned the tone saying “Definitely. I just love it! Can’t get enough.” as I rolled my eyes and the umbrella up, fastening it shut. I walked over to the kitchen & checked the fridge. All that was left was this chicken Parmesan “thing” I had attempted to make three days earlier & it looked like a big pile of mush at that point. I chucked it & decided that take out sounded good. I had a taste for some pad thai so the choice was easy. Picking up my phone & dialing the number I thought it might be a good idea to ask Ben what he wanted but I figured he’d eat whatever I ordered him. So I made the call, ordered Chicken Pad Thai and another peanut sauce dish with shrimp, and hung up. As soon as my phone had ended the call, Benjamin started an argument. “Why would you order food without asking me what I wanted?” he asked me walking out of the bedroom and I replied “I ordered food for us both. No need to say thank you”. He walked towards the window to look out but really it was all dramatics because our window looks directly at the alley behind our building that holds nothing but two dumpsters and a few forgotten cats. “Why would I say thank you to you for doing something I never asked you to do?” he said with his back turned to me “Sometimes” he scoffed, almost laughing, as he looked at the rain collect in the window sill. “Sometimes I don’t get you. Like after all this time you still do shit that irritates me and I wonder why the fuck I still want to lay next to you at night or wake up with you in the morning.” I was sitting on the sofa, absentmindedly playing with the tag on this pillow I bought two years before when he & I had just started dating. He told me the pattern on it reminded him of us; that the lines never intersected. They just changed direction. “Nobody is holding you here Ben. You can leave anytime you’d like.” I said as I picked up the remote & turned on the television.
Thirty-five minutes later I was annoyed that the food hadn’t arrived but also because Ben never left the window. He just stayed there staring at the rain while it sheeted down the window screen and when thunder roared he’d just sigh. “What could be taking this food so long? The place isn’t even that far.” I complained. “It’s the rain Jenine. Everything slows when it rains. People, cars, buses, trains, bikes, they all slow.” He paused “You also might want to factor in the idea that a bunch of people order take out on a night like this.” I answered back “I knew that!……why are you always telling me things as if I don’t know them? As if I’m not aware? It’s just annoying. You’re annoying.” Ben walked away from the window & towards the kitchen counter. He planted his two hands palm down on the counter, hoisted himself up to sit on it, looked at me & said “Maybe it’s not me that annoys you Jenine. Maybe you can’t admit that I’m ever fucking right! I can’t ever make a point without you saying “I knew that!”. If you knew it Jenine…..then why would you say half the shit you say or do half the shit you do.“ I paused the lifetime movie I had been somehow become invested in and pressed a metaphorical "play” on the scene that was unfolding in our living room. “I don’t know Ben. Maybe you’re right” I replied as I sat up, crossed my legs and interlaced my fingers over my knee. “Maybe I can’t handle the fact that you make valid points. Or perhaps it’s the fact that you can’t ever let me be wrong without making me look like a complete ass. You’re always so philosophical. "Oh thee "all knowing Ben!” Ohh he who knows more than anyone!“ I mocked. "It’s insulting. For someone who is just so wise you damn sure don’t know how to do your own fucking laundry, or wash a dish, or aim your penis directly into the bowl when you pee. Stop with the bullshit. We both have our faults.” My phone rang. The food was downstairs.
I threw on my worn out flip flops and shuffled down the 3 flights of stairs. Walking back into the apartment with food in hand, I saw that Ben had returned to the window. He walked over to the kitchen counter where I was standing, taking the food out of the brown paper bag & said “You said your ordered me food.” “I just ordered two things off the menu. I figured we’d just share.” I reasoned. “Right I get that but I don’t like peanuts. You know that. Don’t you? I’ve told you this. I’m sure I have as we’ve been together give or take I don’t know 2 & half years!” “Dammit! I whispered to myself. "I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking & I was hungry & I’m…..sorry. I’m just sorry.” “It’s fine” he said. “I should’ve just picked something up on the way home. It isn’t the first time you’ve done something like this. You’re like your mother in that way.” “Like my mother? All of this over some take out? Listen, good luck with dinner.” I said as I grabbed a plastic fork at the bottom of the bag & headed back to the sofa. “Yeah, like your mother.” he continued, following me. “You’re always complaining that she never listens to you; that you have to remind her of things you’ve already told her. Yet, here you are never listening to me. It’s not even about the apology. It’s that I just don’t think you’re really sorry at all.” he retorted. “Fair enough.” I said, putting my food down on the coffee table. “You wanna know what I’m really sorry about Ben? Huh? Fine. I’m sorry I moved in with you. I’m sorry I’ve been in this relationship for this long because we’ll never be good enough for one another. You know that right? We’re always going to be like this Ben.” I said, pointing at the pace between with both hands. “It’s never going to be enough that we love each other. There’s gotta be more to love than whatever the fuck we’re doing. I just don’t think this is healthy. I don’t think we’re growing here. Do you?”. “Now that J…that’s the most honest thing you’ve said to me. You’re always saying what you think I want to hear and that’s my problem with you. You never say what the hell you want because you think too much about it. We are growing, it’s just apart from one another.” He sighed, finally saying “Look, I’m tired.” as he walked exhaustedly back towards the bedroom, on an empty stomach & closed the door behind him. I couldn’t figure out if he meant he was tired of us, of the arguing, of never really getting back to how we were or if he was honestly tired.
I slept on the sofa & I use the term “slept” very lightly. What I really did was stare at the ceiling, trying to figure out if this was really it for Ben & I. If that was our last real conversation; if that even counted as a conversation. I planned out what I’d say in the morning after we’d both had time to think & reflect. I’d tell him I was sorry about going off & that it’s not that I don’t want to try to make it work but that I don’t even think trying is worth an actual try. I thought about it & felt like the whole relationship was a perpetual “try”. We’d just kept getting up, dusting each other off, & holding hands until we’d fall again thinking it didn’t matter because we’d fallen together. How many times do you have to fall before you realize that perhaps it isn’t the ground that’s tripping you up? That it might just be you. Do you have to scrape your knees a few times or fall flat on your face? How do you know when you’ve had enough?
I laid there falling in & out of sleep. I had this weird dream that I was baking a cake. I kept checking on it. Ben was there but he didn’t really say much. Finally I took it out of the oven & it was burnt around the edges. He shuffled over to the stovetop & looked at the cake with a somber face. “I told you it was done 10 minutes ago. You should’ve taken it out.” he said & I just stared at him blankly because he was right. I turned the pan over and the cake popped out. I let it cool, frosted it and cut a piece. Jeremy hunched over the counter top and watched me put the cake on a plate with confusion. “You’re just going to eat a burnt cake?” he questioned me. I had just taken my first bite and was going in for a second when I looked up at him and said “It still tastes good so what’s the difference?”. “The difference, Jenine, is that you know the whole cake doesn’t taste good. Only certain parts do. Why don’t you just throw it out and make another one?” he said walking over to the cake, lifting the plate up at different points and angles to get a good look at it. It was as though he was wondering how the frosting did anything but make the cake look even sadder. I licked the last bit of frosting off my fork and said “Because, burnt or not burnt, I still love cake.”
I woke up to a sliver of sunlight shining through the living room across the floor & stopping right at the front door. I sat up & checked the time. It was 7:06. I decided I’d go to the bedroom and get some real rest. I stood up & stumbled towards the bedroom. As soon as I reached the door, Ben was coming out of the room. He was dressed & had 2 bags with him not including the backpack he’d never leave the house without. All of the things I had planned on saying were forgotten. I could barely see straight, let alone gather the words I wanted to say. He looked at me then said “Sorry. Can I just get by?”. “Sure!” I blurted out as I moved to the left, almost jumping. He walked towards the front door & I asked “Umm can at least ask where you’re going?”. He stopped moving and turned, telling me “I thought about what you said J. About us not being enough for one another. I guess I just always thought it would work itself out. But I see what you mean. I don’t know the exact moment when you came to that conclusion, or maybe you decided it, but you should’ve ended us then instead of now. So I’m leaving. I guess I’ll pick up the rest of my stuff over the next couple of weeks.”. That’s it. He was gone. Whatever he had left, the “stuff” he mentioned, was never picked up. They were minuscule items really; a toothbrush, some body wash, a value pack of razors. Things that made you think of him, even though they were all replaceable. It didn’t take long for me to realize that much like the burnt cake, I still loved Ben.
Himalaya headwaters of the Ganges River — believed to be a holy waterway by many, but facing severe “industrial and religious pollution” as one Hindu leader puts it. I’ll be speaking about this 1500-mile lifeline and other fresh water/ river challenges in Nebraska and Ohio in the next few weeks for #natgeolive.
I DID ANOTHER THING. Just love drawing these two being adorable and Cone being stuck in the middle somehow….literally. I decided to make/tag it also as fanart of @deductionfreak‘s All Night Gang which is adorable and just..THE GOODS. So go check it out! Heiji fixin’ to choke a Cone..
I tend to chew the inside of my bottom lip when I’m nervous or anxious. Right about now, it’s raw, almost numb, if that’s gives you a clue about how I’m feeling.
This morning when I woke up, I made oatmeal & let it sit until it was too thick & sticky to pick up with a spoon. I poured some milk in the bowl, watched the white trickle through the hills & mounds of oats, and had flashbacks of you biting your lip. That’s the face you’d make before you’d pull out & come on the sheets, my back or my stomach; like I was some porn star; like you didn’t caress my face a half hour earlier and tell me I “got the kind of beauty needs to be felt.” You remember how I reacted the first time you did that? Me neither, it’s fine.
I knew I had fucked up when you did that because you never asked if it was okay or cool; you assumed. Like I assumed that you really cared about me; that you were capable of loving. But that’s neither here nor there.
Somewhere between there and here though, I was late. Somewhere between my house & the drugstore, I realized that I was alone. Somewhere between my heart & my head, I decided that a baby isn’t something I needed or something that you’d want. Somewhere between my front door & the clinic my eyes started pouring and so did the sky.
This isn’t even for you. This is for me. Even if it was for you, you wouldn’t get it. By get it, I mean both understand and receive it.
I don’t want you thinking that you mean anything to me; because you shouldn’t even have to think about that. You could call now and I know I’d pick up desperately like you had something I need; because in actuality you do. I’m not exactly sure when you took it or if I gave it to you, but I know you have it. Picked it up right around the time you picked your boxers up off your bedroom floor and asked me how I was getting home. I could never make a home out of you, because men like you don’t have good foundations or sturdy walls. Your roofs leak and I’ve never been good with my hands. Any levelheaded girl would know that you needed more than just a fresh coat of paint.
I used to blame your father for leaving your mother, then your mother for leaving you be, then myself for not blaming you. But in life, you make choices. You chose to let your scars cut you again and again; to let the pain in; to let it stay. You chose to suffer.
I chose me.
The medical assistant told me it’s okay to have second thoughts. She doesn’t know this is the third clinic I’ve been to in four days. It’s not a question of whether or not I can do it. It’s a question of whether or not I want it to happen. When it does, we’re really over & I’m not sure if I’m okay with that. I’m not sure I’m even okay at all.
A smart girl would have left. She wouldn’t have had a reason to leave because she wouldn’t have come in. She wouldn’t have stay long enough to see the way you throw your head back in laughter whenever your niece dances, how your eyes squint when you smile too hard, how you crack your knuckles when you’re uncomfortable, how you breath deeply when you have to think of lie. She wouldn’t have seen you flinch the first time she reached out to touch you while you laid in bed staring into the darkness.
It’s hard to pinpoint the moment I realized I loved you. It wasn’t easy for me to admit it to myself; loving someone who proclaimed themselves incapable of love. We’d lay together, legs intertwined in a comfortable silence with your phone plugged into one of your homeboys portable speakers playing some R&B playlist you found & you’d say “you know I can’t give you what you want right? It’s what you deserve, but I just don’t think you’re gonna find it here.” What I wanted was for you to shut up.
Truthfully, I don’t regret loving you. It taught me patience & strength. Those are virtues I’m sure will be useful sometime in the future, when a child that isn’t ours won’t stop crying at 4 in the morning & I have to be up at 6.
I heard somewhere that true love is giving without the expectation of receiving. I never believed in that until you. That kind of love can’t be true though. It’s destructive, malicious even, & leaves you with a hollow chest that no amount of deep breathing can fill. The thing is, people don’t realize that you can only give what is being taken. You took my love. Honestly, if I was you, I would have to. You made me understand why hate & love are so often mistaken for each other.
You used to say I was stupid over you and I’d blush, shove you playfully, and tell you “stahpppp it” like it was a compliment; not knowing that I’d just confirmed everything you just said. It was stupid of me to think I could teach you how to love when you gave me no indication that you even wanted to learn. Stupid of me to think that I’d be the one to change you, when no one has ever changed on the basis of someone else wanting them to.
I used to go to your house when you weren’t around & sit with your mother at the kitchen table with the four mismatched chairs, hoping she’d break & tell me what I needed to do to make you love me. No one knows you better than your mother…..isn’t that what they say? I’d tell her about our arguments, things you’d said just to hurt me; to make me leave & she’d file her nails or busy herself with making some coffee. She’d clear her throat or suck her teeth, like something was stuck between them; like the truth. One day after filing her nails until perfectly round, pouring three cups of coffee and letting them sit until they were cold, she turned around to face me while leaning against the kitchen counter & folded her arms. “You know it’s true what they say…that books can’t teach you everything.” she said, looking at the floor. She looked up at me and continued “Because if they could, you’d be smart enough to see that my son doesn’t deserve a girl like you. Hell, I’m his mother and I love him, with all of me I do, but I know he’s never gonna be the man I want him to be….the kind of man you deserve. Why are you still here? You’re always here. He’s knows you’re here & he’s not even here! Doesn’t that tell you something?” She let out one of those laughs, the kind you let out when you’re convinced that what’s happening can’t be real; that it has to be a joke in order for it to make sense. I didn’t have an answer for her. Instead I moved my foot back & forth across the corner of one of the linoleum tiles on the kitchen floor that had started to lift. It made this low scraping sound that I pretended I didn’t hear. “These floors ain’t no good.” she said after realizing where the sound was coming from; “I swear any day it’ll give way right where you’re sitting.” and all of a sudden my foot stop moving because I know she wasn’t talking about the floor anymore; you remember what I said about foundations.
The chairs in the waiting room are cold & the plastic on them grabs on to your legs like it knows your secrets; what you did. I decided to stand after about 10 minutes of sitting. Nobody in the room wanted to be there. You could feel it. The receptionist kept checking the clock, then counting the people waiting with these sweeping head nods that scan the room. The medical assistant would walk in from the back of the office & sigh before calling the name of the next patient. One of the girls looked like she could be your cousin but that’s unlikely; your aunt had her on the pill as soon as she turned 15. “Listen you gotta take precaution with these young girls. I’m too young to have a grandchild & so was my mother when I had her.” I overheard her say one day when you left me in your bedroom to take a shower. It was summer time and we had just finished fucking. My skin was sticky and you’d just pushed me off of you to go shower. I turned over & laid there, letting anxiety set in. You came back in, still wet around the shoulders with the towel gripping your waist, & told me I should go home with your back to me. You were looking in the mirror brushing your hair toward your forehead. I went to the bathroom before I left; ran the water for a couple of seconds, cupped it in my hand and slushed it around my mouth, listening to it crash against my teeth and swollen bottom lip. You & blood never tasted good together.
You gotta understand that I never understood you. Now I know that it’s because there was nothing to figure out; to understand. Sometimes it’s easier to think someone is hiding some part of themselves from us; that we can get to that part if we stay long enough. In reality, it’s our own secrets & insecurities that make us believe that everyone must have them; that no one is truly transparent about their feelings. You were. When you said you couldn’t give me what I want, it wasn’t because you didn’t think you could. It was because you didn’t want to. In all honesty, I wish I could be like you; walking the earth needing & wanting for no one. Your mother told me you said you stopped saying “I love you too” when you realized that you were just saying it as a response & not because you meant it. It was never just a response for me.
They ask you if you want to see the embryo before you have the abortion. How stupid is that? Why would I want to see what I’m about to kill? So I can hate myself more? So I can think about not going through with it? Whatever the reason is, I declined the offer. It’s bad enough I dreamt about the baby ever by night. I imagined it’s face every day while I washed the dishes with my mother sitting at the kitchen table behind me, half watching/half staring at the news on the tv in the living room. “Why are you so quiet lately? You barely laugh when your brother tells those corny jokes you love so much.” she said once while she was waiting for the microwave to finish heating up her leftovers from the night before. I brushed her off, telling her I’ve just been thinking about “life”; you know like how mine would end if I told her I was pregnant.
She would have my eyes but your eyelashes because mine never curled up to the sun the way yours did. He would have your long legs but my muscles because you could never lift anything. She would have my shoulders because they’re the kind you can lean on. He would have your smile because it’s the kind that’s contagious. She would have my tenacity but your honesty because that’ll take her far, I think. He would have your curiosity, but my precaution. Then again that never helped me with you, so perhaps not. She would have my determination. He would have your arms but my hands because I can touch things and people without breaking them.
After they finished they asked me the obligatory “How are you feeling?”. I said I didn’t know because I honestly couldn’t feel anything. Physically, I felt the same as I did the day you didn’t pull out in time. I remember you breathing heavy, whispering “Ughh Shit!!” into the crook of my neck where your head always ended up. “My bad.”, you said after you’d caught your breath and for the first time I pushed you off of me, because it wasn’t your bad; it had never been your bad. It was always mine.
The top of the Ganges river starts here above the Bhagarati river and Gangotri Glacier at 15,000 feet above sea level in the Garhwal of the Himalaya. Four years ago I followed this body of water 1500-miles, source to sea with @mountainworld and @davidcmorton to document its beauty, magic, mystery and water contamination – to understand the state of the most revered and reviled river in the world. The full story of our journey is told in an hour long documentary titled #HolyunHolyRiver which is at festivals worldwide. To see more clips from the film and catch where it plays tomorrow, go to @pedromcbride.
My father’s cells clicked each night,
intent on making money.
And as for my cells, they brooded,
little queens, on honey.
On boys too, as a matter of fact,
and cigarettes and cars.
Mother frowned at my wasted life.
My father smoked cigars.
So I’m reading the manga. I read the first 6 ones (the ones before DM) before and I ran into this scene with Bandit Keith and Jounouchi recently. Jounouchi gets pissed at Bandit Keith because of his boots on the table. And it automatically made me think of this scene in the first volume when Yugi, Honda, and Anzu visit Jounouchi’s home and see his dad. It just made me think of how many times he has gone home and his dad is like that, all drunk. And it’s a constant reminder of how much debt they’re in and how he has to take care of everything.
These are the things they don’t tell you about the woman who fell in love with a gang member.
She didn’t meet him through crimes.
She was walking alone at night, in the busy city, he came up to her and offered to walk her home because a man had been following her for three blocks.
On the first date he insisted to take her to a fancy restaurant, but she’s not into all that, so they went for coffee.
The day he took her to meet his mother he said, “my momma is my world. She shows her love through food and she always has leftovers because her love will never run out.”
When she meet his brothers they asked her how she liked his money, she laughed, replying with, “I’m a artist, money is not important to me or I would have been a doctor.”
The first night he came home busted up, blood all over him, she didn’t ask questions, she just cleaned him up and held him tighter than most nights.
Most mornings she would write poems or sketch pictures of him while he slept in.
The day he finally told her what he did for a living, time stopped around her.
Thoughts of him dying, his funeral, his mug shot, seeing him through a piece of glass, flashed before her eyes, all she could do was cry.
This is her man, the one she has loved endlessly.
She begged him to stop, told him that they don’t need that money, as long as they had each other.
The cops found him one day and showed no mercy littering his body with gun shot holes.
She made food with his momma the day of the funeral, she made sure there were enough leftovers to feed a village.
These are the things they don’t tell you about the woman who fell in love with a gang member
Hiccup may be the Pride of Berk, but what if not everyone sees him like that? When a visiting tribe with a nasty group of bullies show up on Berk, five very protective teens will teach them why you don’t mess with the dragon riders.
Written because I hit 300 followers! Thanks so much, guys!
(Yes, the title is I Love You. Don’t ask.)
“No, really?” Snotlout drawled sarcastically from the chair he was sitting in. Astrid made a motion at him to cut it out, and continued to braid Hiccup’s hair.
“Hiccup, it’s fine. It’s just one peace treaty. Your dad just wants you to be there,” she said soothingly, enjoying the hair between her fingers.
“I know. But the youths never like me. Every time they visit” He pulled away from her hands, only to bury his face in her neck. “Why would they like me now?”
Fishlegs smiled at the sight. “Why wouldn’t they? Come on, what was the worst they did to you, call you skinny?”
Astrid felt Hiccup’s hot breath as he murmured an assent, and she knew he was hiding his face because he didn’t really want to answer. Her neck just happened to be there, but she didn’t half mind. She turned to press a kiss to the top of his head and then looked to see the twins come in.
“Did you plant the paint bomb in Sven’s house?”
“Of course,” Ruff said smugly, “did you doubt us, Astrid?”
“No.” She started running her fingers through Hiccup’s hair as the twins sat. Tuffnut raised an eye at them, and he made a face.
“Do you guys have to do that here?” He stuck his tongue out. “I mean, I’m happy for you guys and all, but…” He stood up, and had that Tuffnut look that she had grown so accustomed to. “What about the magic of friendship?”
Fishlegs and Snotlout both laughed, and Ruffnut stood up and shook a fist at them, making them shut up immediately. She turned to Astrid again.
“He has to go, by the way. The ship is about to arrive, I saw it.”
“No,” Hiccup whined, pressing closer to her and wrapping his arms around her waist. Astrid rolled her eyes.
“Snotlout,” she said loudly, “take him there.”
“Why do I have to do it?”
Fishlegs sighed. “Because you have to be there too, Snotlout. Ergo, you’re the best one for the job.”
“Ugh, fine. Come on, princess.” He jumped up, grabbing Hiccup, who clung to Astrid childishly before she pried him off and he followed Snotlout, pouting.
Astrid smiled. The L word was on the tip of her tongue these days, but she could wait, and so could he. There was no way Hiccup L-worded her.
“So,” she said, turning back to the twins, “how exactly did you get into Sven’s house?”
Is “Sodomy” in the bible really referring to being gay? Yes and no but certainly not in the way your homophobic aunt wants you to believe
Alternative title “What the heck is sodomy, why is the bible against it and does that apply to my life as a gay person in 2017?”
(Tw: discussion of rape as part of bible stories)
“The sin of sodomy” refers to the story of Sodom in the bible (Genesis 19).
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick summary:
Angels disguise as men and visit Lot in the city of Sodom. He invites them to stay in his home. He was kind to them, prepared a meal for them and stuff like that. But just as they are about to go to sleep, all men of the entire city gather around the house and basically say “Give us those men, we want to rape them.”
What a horrible thing! Imagine you invite visitors out of kindness and then a gang knocks on your door and threatens rape. We (hopefully) all agree that is a horrible awful situation and those are horrible men. But… is it about being gay? Are those men gay?
Does that strike you as a likely thing to happen in 2017? All men in, let’s say, a rather small town in america, Greenville in North Carolina or Odessa, Texas… All of the men there are gay and form one big group of gay gang rapists? Is this story something that reflects gay communities in 2017?
Rape is a crime, no doubt. It’s a crime of violence.
Men do not rape (”sodomize”) people because they’re so attracted to them. They do it as an act of violence. A act of humiliation. A act of war.
Were the men of Sodom gay or straight? They were violent, that’s all we know for sure. They didn’t want to have sex with these men because they were in love with them or because they were so beautiful and hot - they wanted to rape them. That’s what countless gangs of violent men have done through history: use rape as a act of war.
How does our horrifying story continue?
Lot goes outside and begs them to not do it. What a brave men! Faces a violent crowd to protect his visitors from violence! But wait, what the hecking heck is he doing now? Offering them his daughters instead!
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes”. -
What a disturbing solution. Offer rapists someone else to rape, so they let go off who they wanted to rape first? That being said.. If the “Sin of Sodom” was homosexuality, offering gay men to sleep with girls doesn’t sound like a helpful suggestion. If we go with the interpretation here that those men weren’t rapists, just very gay guys who wanted to have nice consensual sex with some sexy gay angels - then Lot who lived in that city where everyone was gay was somehow entirely blind to that fact.
Again, is that relevant to gay relationships as we think of them today? I, as a gay person, can’t remember the last time I together with my entire gay city wanted to have sex but the one silly straight person in the town kept offering me his kids to have sex with.
What’s the more likely interpretation? That they didn’t want consensual gay sex - they wanted to assault them, and specifically them (they ignored the daughters offered to them). Most likely they wanted to rape the angels because they were strangers. We can assume that they wanted to establish their dominance over them, wanted to humiliate them - as people in war (sadly and terrifyingly) do.
How does the story end? God gets angry and destroys the city. This story follows the narrative of Noah’s flood or the tower of Babel - People are horrible, God destroys them. Your typical old testament bible story (that’s the stories before Jesus’ birth) in which God was often portrayed as vengeful and angry (and, just as a side note, Jesus literally died for you to free you from the former laws i.e the laws of the old testament. That’s why you don’t need to sacrifice animals and are allowed to wear clothes made of mixed fabrics or to shave or to get tattooed. Thankyou, Jesus!).
So, if you are gay and wonder if “The sin of sodomy” applies to you: Yes. Please do not gather up with a large crowd and threaten rape. That’s not cool, regardless of your identity. Even if the one you threaten is not an angel.
But does it apply to you in the way your homophobic aunt thinks? No. This story has absolutely no connection to you dating a person of the same gender or to you having consensual sex with them.
Ideas for a character that used to be in a gang? What sort of problems might he have now (he's already a kleptomaniac)?
Hi! Here’s a bit of a mix of ideas and problems:
● Old gang is trying to get him back
● On parole/ watched by the police
● Criminal record makes getting a job harder
● Feels like he needs a group of friends or a family (as one appeal of gangs is the loyalty)
● Hard to not resort to violence during a disareement
● Lacks a home or money since he was dependent on the gang
● Afraid of walking into gang territory and getting caught back up in the mess
● Has to constantly check his morals to make sure he doesn’t slip into crime again
● Almost too nice because he’s trying to make up for his past
● Old rival gangs mess with him/ hurt him
● Lost in terms of his goal for life
● Struggles to reconcile with family
● Unsure of how to act around old gang members
● Snitched on his old gang and has to watch his back now
● Can’t decide what to do with his illegal prosessions or money
● Protesters harass him becuase he was involved in a shooting a long time ago that involved a stray bullet and unintended victim
● Drug addict/ alcoholic/ smoker
● Feels overwhelmingly guilty about people he’s killed, hurt, or helped to kill (visits the graves)
● Tries to cover up gang tattoo