Monday, October 17, 2016




Yielding or containing gold.
Synonyms: Honeyed


It’s 10:17 pm and I am on the train. There’s a lady across the aisle reading a tattered copy of Atonement by Ian McEwan and I wonder if this is her own copy. I wonder if this is a book she reads routinely. I want to ask her how she’s surviving it because the book is nothing but muddled words that try to force a pretty story down your throat but is so boring, it leaves your mind wandering. The lady is asleep, her finger holding her place between the pages. Her finger has moved and now her place is lost. Her eyes are closed and her face looks so peaceful even though her head rests on the window and rhythmically bounces as the train pushes it’s way down the tracks. I’m tired. I want to stop thinking about things that are existing in my life and think about the people who rotate on and off at each stop. I want to stop feeling this and feel something else.


He asked me to dinner and I told him I would accept coffee.  I debated driving or taking the train but taking the train always wins. I asked him if we could meet later in the evening, around seven or so. He agreed and told me to meet him at a coffee shop. Mint Plaza. I repeated the location in my head over and over. Mint Plaza. Mint Plaza. Mint Plaza. It sounded funny to me. The train was empty and strangely quiet.

He held my hand across the table on the second floor of a bar.  I'm startled when his hand reaches for mine. I want to pull my hand away because I reserve holding hands for people I feel deeply. Holding hands is not like kissing.

"Why are you holding my hand?"
"Because I feel like it."

I distract myself by looking outside. He's looking at me.

"It's drizzling out. It's nice."

He interrupts me.

"I haven't met someone like you in a very, very long time."

I believe it, but I don't believe him. He keeps asking me who I am. I don't know how to answer that and I don't really want to. I shrug and laugh. He looks at me like I am otherworldly. It probably didn't mean anything but in that moment, it did. I put more trust in the way he looked at me than the words he was saying. I pull my hand away and grip my glass instead. The heat from my hands make the glass sweat quickly. I'm drinking a diet coke.

"I want to know everything about you. What is your favorite food? Favorite color? What are your favorite films?"

In my head, I laugh because he asks me the most generic questions you could ask someone. I don't show it but men who ask questions like these bore me because they think these questions are deeply personal. Is this their effort of getting to know everything about someone? I answer two of the three questions. The last one I tell him I have to get back to him.

Before I got into the car picking me up, I whispered in his ear that I love French films. I immediately regretted saying French and wish I had said Korean cinema. He threw his head back and laughed. I couldn't understand what was so funny. I slid into the car and waved goodbye.


I wonder if all psychiatrists live in such filth. His apartment is tiny but beautiful with old wooden floors and windows that look ancient. The kitchen has only enough space for one person. He has almost no furniture and his bed is a futon that is laid out on the floor. He has a tiny table in the kitchen area with two folding chairs. There is one bookshelf. There are papers haphazardly placed everywhere. A thin film of dust covers everything. He has one lamp.

He wants to make me sushi but the avocado he chose is hard as a rock. He asks me if I can slice it up and he hands me something equivalent to a butter knife. I look at it for a minute, not knowing what to do. I ask if he has a cutting board. He thinks for a moment and rummages through drawers and looks into his kitchen cabinet. His kitchen cabinet don't have doors and instead of plates and bowls and cups, there are random papers and other miscellaneous items tucked in each shelf. I'm in awe of his disaster of a kitchen. He has one bowl, two plates and maybe one cup. The cup is actually an old glass beaker. I wonder what I am really doing here. He hands me a slab of circular wood.

"Use this"

I'm still stuck with this butter knife that isn't going to do shit against this avocado. I don't bother asking if he has a different one. Avocado or knife. I start peeling the avocado instead. I take a small bite out of a slice. It's bitter and I feel like I'm taking a bite out of a Toblerone chocolate. He has a small bottle of whiskey with maybe half an inch of liquid left. He hands the bottle to me. I shake my head.

"No, thank you"

I don't tell him that I strongly believe the last inch of liquid left in any drink or bottle is just mainly saliva and I cannot bring myself to ever drink it. He shrugs and takes a sip. I wondered why he didn't just drink the whole thing. There was maybe a drop left now.

We talk about a variety of things. He tells me about his relationship with his parents. I'm quiet about my relationship with mine. His profession is in the back of my head and although I want to be psychoanalyzed, I don't really want to be psychoanalyzed in that moment. Then he asks me,

"How are you so vulnerable? You don't seem to give two shits about being so open."

I fumble a response. I'm never articulate in the moment. It's rare for me to say anything genius in real time. He smiles at me a lot. I can't remember if I smile back. He tells me he read my blog. I groan and I cover my face with my hair. He tells me he enjoyed reading about my life and my thoughts. He tells me maybe one day I can take black and white photos of him. I don't imagine him far into my future so I shrug and say, 'Maybe.'

What else is there to say?


I tell him the city looks like a scene out of Blade Runner. There is a thin layer of fog blanketing the city night. He tells me he's never seen it. We are very quiet as we look out his window. He grabs my hand again and even though it feels nice, my instinct is telling me to move my hand away. But I don't. He breaks the silence by telling me something that hurts my feelings.

"No one around you recognizes your potential."


"What did you expect to feel?"

A chuckle.

"Only you would ask that question."


July 4, 2016 9:45 pm

There is a couple who lives across the street from me and they're sitting on their roof watching the fireworks with a bag of hot Cheetos and cans of cheap beer. I think this is what love really is.


We're sitting across from each other at a coffee shop he made me walk five miles to. I'm a little upset, and very exhausted. I bring out my journal and he asks if he can borrow a piece of paper. I rip one out and he goes to the barista with pretty freckles and long hair the color of brownie mix and asks to borrow a pen. She gives him one with pink ink. We sit there in silence and I write one sentence in my journal: I feel drained of all my energy. I cover what I write with my hand so he doesn't read it. He raises an eyebrow at me and says

"I'm not going to read what you write"
"I know but still"

It won't be until later that I finish this thought by writing, I only want to spend time with people who replenish my energy instead of sucking it dry. 

He looks at me and I decide I am very fucking tired of him staring at me all the time. His gaze is heavy. I ask him what he's looking at, what he's thinking about. His chin is in his hand and he hesitates a little bit. I tap my pen against the table. I'm getting antsy and I want a shower and to change out of my sweater. I want my cotton robe and I want to be in my bed.

"We're going to get you into medical school"

I laugh in his face. I laugh a deep, guttural laugh. He looks confused.

"Medical school? To be a psychiatrist? Like you? But I don't want to be a psychiatrist. I never, ever have."

I grow quiet and the energy shifts. He grabs my hand across the table. He runs his thumb across the spot of skin between my thumb and my index finger.

"Not even you recognize your potential"

That suspends between us like a pendulum and for once, he's the one to break our gaze.


He texts me: "I, myself, have to process my experience of you"

It makes me feel powerful but maybe in a negative way. When I get to the train station, I call my mom as I wait to board my train. It's 6:00 pm and it's gloomy and the fog is starting to wrap her way around the city. I wrap my coat around me a little tighter. A homeless man rummages in the trash can next to me and asks me if I have a dollar. I happen to have one and give it to him. He mumbles 'god bless' under his breath. My mom's voice brings a sudden flood of relief and light back into my being.

"Hi Ethaney!"

I can see her smile.

I sit in silence. I never paid much attention to the sounds the train makes. But the low hums, rattles, and the sounds of metal grinding against metal are comforting and mellowing. There is a lady sitting across from me. She has bright blonde hair and it's piled high on top of her head. Her eyes are closed. Her face looks tense and tired. I wonder if she is feeling the same as me.


I don't want to see him again so we don't.

He asks me to coffee.
I tell him no.


A man I once knew wrote to me: "I feel full and deeply dimensioned, when I communicate with you. I can let myself feel, let my emotions rampage in a way that rarely happens in other parts of my life. In the light of day, I'm buttoned down, and downright serious. There is an ease with you, a reckless freedom.

You are not what I am used to. You're better."

I remember deleting his email and never responding.

We're on the phone. She's in Mexico and I'm in my bed. It took us twenty minutes to finally connect over her shitty wifi and Facebook messenger that refuses to work. It sounds like she's on speakerphone but she probably isn't.

"Men don't have to worry about shit. They can be in their 30's and just worry about their careers and they don't have to worry about when to settle down or have kids or how to balance when to have kids with their careers. And they just need one redeeming factor or good quality. We need it all. It's trash. It's not fair. It's really not fair." She's pissed and I'm pissed right there with her.


I was lying in the back of a Lyft, my head in N's lap and she was stroking my hair and she noticed my two grey baby hairs on the top of my head and she said, ‘I will only ever approve of a man if he plays with your hair like this and finds your two baby grey Caillou hairs and thinks they’re just as adorable as I do."


His accent is like a warm blanket. It's thick and heady. He tries to kiss me on both cheeks except I don't know which direction we're both moving in. We laugh.
I tell him he's too French for me.
We're at a wine bar in his neighborhood and we're the youngest ones there. We look around.

"Sorry I took us to such an old person place"

I laugh and tip my wine glass at him. My laugh catches his and I feel champagne bubbles in my stomach even though I'm not drinking champagne.


He spreads cheese on baguette for me. He places it on my plate or in my hands. He gives me the first slice of bread. He gives me the end piece of the baguette. We agree it is the best part of it. I read into this more than I should.


His apartment is beautiful with clean lines and panoramic views of the city. He is on the 18th floor. He complains about the size of the space and tells me his apartment in Chicago was twice the size and at least ten times more beautiful. He offers photos as proof. The apartment in Chicago and the one in San Francisco look almost exactly identical. I look around and I don't understand how he can complain. I wonder if this is a character flaw or it's something simpler: a sign of incompatibility.


It's drizzling out. He asks me if we should take an umbrella. I laugh and tell him

"No way. It's only a little drizzle!"

By the time we leave the restaurant, it's almost pouring. He clicks his tongue and shakes his head. I try to laugh and I tease him by saying

"When was the last time you walked in the rain? We can pretend we're kids again!"

He doesn't laugh. My smile disappears a little. He's quiet and the excitement of walking in the rain doesn't seem so exciting and fun anymore. We walk quickly and finally find an overhang. He grumbles about taking an Uber.

The city seems just a little less magic.


He gives me a glass of scotch and tells me to try it. I barely take half a sip. It feels like gasoline down my throat. I cough and shake my head. I can barely say, 'Oh god'. He laughs and tells me not to drink it. I don't and leave the glass on his coffee table. It's getting late and I'm sober but the scotch loosens him up and he shares painful and intense stories of his ex. He's suffering but aren't we all suffering from something? I feel like I need to offer a story to him. To let him know, I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. I open my mouth and tell a story that I don't tell often, if at all. Suffering understands suffering. He listens and his eyes narrow.

"Our stories are not the same"

I remember how sharply that stung and how it made me suck in my breath.


I tell him when he looks at me, he doesn't see a future but sees his past. He tries to argue this but it doesn't matter how hard he tries to tell me I am wrong. I know I am right and this is why he will lose me.


I was reading Bluets by Maggie Nelson and leaning against the glass pane of the museum doing exactly what I told him I would be doing. Reading and waiting. I didn’t notice him step in front of me and lean against the glass pane. And when I finally noticed him, I lowered my book and we smiled at each other.


A note I wrote on the train 6/4/2016 12:11 pm:

people always make faces and cringe when they see two people kissing in public. i just saw a couple embracing in between two cars, one was a navy blue camry and the other was a sea foam green prius. their faces were smashed against each other and both their noses seemed to have disappeared. i saw this in a flash as the train raced by. people always whisper and make faces when they see two people quietly kissing over a glass of wine in a dimly lit restaurant on a friday night. people always stare with disdain and i don’t understand it because i love it. feelings should be loud and seen and felt. a public declaration, why not!! but maybe da vinci was right when he said love is something so ugly that the human race would die out if lovers could see what they were doing.


He spotted the moon making her appearance, pointed at it, and looked at me.

Would he realize that this simple gesture meant something to me?


A friend asked me

“What are you so worried about?”

and I told him

“Love. Or rather, maybe the fact I’m not so worried about it anymore.

[originally posted on July 19, 2016]