I put my feet on your dashboard, sand and beach tar between my toes; we are old friends.
You pull out a Marlboro and fumble in your pocket for your lighter, holding the steering wheel with your knees. “Don’t,” I say, reaching out for the wheel, nodding toward my child in the backseat. You nod and drop the cigarette out of your lips to your lap and grin at me. “Fine, but only for you.”
“Not for me,” I say.
“For him, because he is yours,” you say.
“Yes, but also for you.”
I’ve been trying to save you for…
The first playdate was the product of an infant/toddler reading hour at my local library in the fall of 2002. I’d been freshly laid off from a dot-com job that had consumed me. My daughter Ana was 18 months old.
I’d been adrift, aimless, caught in the purgatory between unemployment and whatever came next. Suddenly I was in the company of a toddler all day, every day.
And so I found myself in the library at 11 a.m. …
The voice box is a pink, slick mass through which air blows. It’s an alien with a toothless smile. When its folds, the vocal cords, work properly, they press together as we speak, mirroring humming lips. Air slips through the cords. They quake and can vibrate up to 1,000 times per second. That rattled air becomes voice.
I lost my voice at 15. I sounded like a boy hitting puberty, as my inflections became an unpredictable mash of breaks and warbles. …
I must admit something. I have Covid-19-inspired face lust.
We’ve been watched by the walls of our homes since March 2020 and have seen too few real, in-person faces. It’s all been face porn, watching characters on TV as our pets stare on. “Faces” are not the flat, pixelated images of co-workers on Zoom, nor are they the tiny 2D versions of your parents or friends on FaceTime.
I need faces. The full, fleshy cheeks, eyes, noses, and mouths of loved ones — even strangers—are what I want. …
“Just a heads up, I might write about our relationship,” I recently said to my boyfriend. “But I promise I won’t do it without your permission.”
“Consent,” he said.
“Without my consent,” he repeated. “You don’t need my permission to do anything.”
“Oh. Right,” I said, laughing a little, and we exchanged the knowing look — a tender, amused wince — that has become commonplace in our relationship. The look is a mutual acknowledgment that I am really fucked up. Or, to be kinder to myself (which is on my self-care list!), …
My sister-in-law and her family went on a trip recently and asked us to care for her daughter’s bearded dragon.
This dragon, a green guy with brown eyes, is still a youth, about seven inches long from the nose to the tip of his tail, though in 18 months he’ll swell to the size of a Tyrannosaurus-rex arm, one you can take out walking with a leash.
While he stayed with us, he lived in a big glass box on our buffet cabinet in the dining room. This changed our mealtimes slightly. Eating in the presence of a reptile makes…
I don’t remember the first time I said “I love you” to a partner. I know it was my first boyfriend, but I have no memory of saying it to him. I also have no memory of him saying it to me, though I’m sure he did.
I’m not sure I actually loved him. He pursued me and I surrendered. No one had ever taught me that it was okay to say no to something I didn’t want — not to dating and not to sex. So we dated and somehow, over time, I came to… what? Did I love…
Let me tell you why I’m like this. If you don’t know what I mean, that’s fine — you don’t know me, and I don’t expect you ever will. But I know me, and I know what I’m like, and now you’re going to know, a little bit, kinda. This is a story about a state the size of a postage stamp, wedged between New York, Pennsylvania, whatever’s south of Cape May, and the beautiful goddamn Atlantic Fucking Ocean. This is a story about New Jersey and me, and maybe you, if you’re lucky enough to be from here, too.
What would happen if I’m single for the rest of my life? Is it possible that somehow, I might not meet someone who feels compatible? Is it possible that I might not like someone as much as they like me, or vice versa? That there’s just not someone who would be a good fit?
What would it be like if I lived alone for the rest of my life? Would it become harder for me to be flexible and accommodating of other’s needs? Would I ever get over those moments of panic when I feel a major illness coming on…
By the time I attended my first Al-Anon meetings as a teenager in the ’90s, I had heard the word “codependency” many times. Where? No one in my house talked about it, nor did friends, but it was ambient in the culture at the time. While researching the genesis of this term and its conceptual underpinnings for a memoir about my own disastrous relationship patterns, I realized I’d probably heard it on the daytime talk shows I sometimes mindlessly watched after school.
Codependency had a moment in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But, sadly, when the term went mainstream…
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