Sunday, November 2, 2014

I Can Read You Like a Magazine

We finished the drinks and went outside. It was dark and raining hard. I wanted to keep talking to her so I offered to walk her home. She dressed like a cool kid from the early ‘60s. She wore her very dark hair pulled back, and her red lipstick contrasted against her fair skin. As we walked I could feel the rain seeping through the holes in the bottom of my shoes. We got to her house and she invited me in to dry off. I followed her up upstairs to her room. She turned on a lamp, which was just enough light. We sat on the side of her bed and talked some more. She laughed at me when I suggested that she was interested in me for the things I said in class. I had a high opinion of the kind of student I was. She told me about the languages she wanted to learn and why. She read some Proust out loud (pol). I found this silly. After a while she put The Boatman’s Call on the stereo—this phrase sounds so archaic now. “Into My Arms” started playing and we got silent. I lay back on her bed and closed my eyes to listen, my feet still on the floor. She lay down next to me. It was warm in her room but I could feel that my socks and shoes were still wet. When the song was over I opened my eyes and saw that she was lying on her side looking at me. She kissed me. We kissed for a while. It got very late. I said I had to go home. She said she would walk me back. We went back out into the rain. About halfway between our places we stopped under the awning of a convenience store and kissed again. My feet were soaked. When we stopped kissing I told her that this was wrong because I had a girlfriend. I told her she lived in Japan and that she was coming back for Christmas vacation in a couple of months. I said I was sorry and that this shouldn’t have happened. She said it was fine, and we went off in our different directions. The next night she called me some time after midnight. She asked if she could come over to talk. She came over. She told me she thought I was afraid and maybe I had a girlfriend but what had happened between us was real and we should give it a chance. I said that maybe she was right, but I couldn’t go through with that. We kept at the conversation for hours. She looked wounded and beautiful, and I wanted her most that night when I kept saying that I couldn’t. She left at dawn. A couple of days later I came home to find flowers on my doorstep. A few days after that, I was sitting on the curb reading when she walked up to me. I asked her coldly if she had left the flowers on my door. She said fuck you and walked away. The last time I saw her I was coming around the corner of my block, arm in arm with my girlfriend. She saw us and turned around. My heart was racing. I never heard from her again.

If all of this sounds like a cliché, it’s because it is. But it's no less true for being a cliché. That is, sometimes our lives take the form of familiar narratives. I think that this is one of the things that Taylor Swift is getting at in “Blank Space.” Sometimes things like desire develop in obvious ways and sometimes they turn out more or less in the way we imagined they would. Nonetheless, we feel these commonplaces as if they had never happened to anyone else before. No one’s broken heart is unique but it always feels that way.

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