i dont know why it pleases me so
when you can call my bluff
read my tells
mimic my reactions & comebacks
in response to your own
my 8th grade English teacher singled me out in front of the class one afternoon
in the middle of his reiteration of an extensive list of assignments we had yet to turn in
he had just told us he’d only give us the rest of the class to finish it all, so make it count–
when he gave pause to his thoughts,
& told the class that he always knew when he was pushing us too hard
piling it on too thick
or just plain broke us
because of my face.
apparently my face had no filter
my candid expression bought us an extra study period
my 8th grade self was pretty proud of that
but my 28 year old self wishes
she wasnt so easy to blush
& be wooed
& wouldnt turn all starry-eyed
every time you asked, “why are you making that face?”
& i respond innocently, “what face? i can’t see my face?”
& you go on & call my bluff for the thousandth time
reading my thoughts as clear as day.
its like youre that magician asking, “is this your card?”
& i plead for you to do that trick again & again.
i have a hero complex
when im flailing
& someone swoops in
with such ease
& brimming with experience
just oozing from their pores
their pheromones are intoxicating.
everyone wants a hero.
in my head i just turn it around
& see any attempt to help
as a beaming halo
& then im hooked.
i don’t like vegas.
i don’t like the smoke
and the noisy machines
or how people meander aimlessly
mentally assessing which machines are “lucky” today
and how they halt in the middle of walkways to watch someone else win it big
i don’t like the skepticism
& hooplah made about “almoooostttt” winning that one time..
i don’t like black friday shopping
the way i get hit by bags while navigating crowded outlet malls
or people snatching items right out from in front of you
i don’t like the greed & overindulgence i see in people
it makes me lose my appetite for shopping altogether.
i’m a recluse.
a girl of solitude.
i enjoy knitting.
& sleeping in without an alarm.
& flashing lights
& the constant smoke
grinds on me.
wears on me.
until i feel like all i am are frayed edges.
the moments i live for
the time that makes me giddy inside
& gives me the slightest bit of hope for finding joy in this adventure next year
is the four hour drive from LAX to LAS.
maroon5 pandora station
& the deep dark sky
the openness could swallow you whole
but there’s us.
in our SUV.
where i don’t have to feel guarded
where i can listen to you sing off-key
& tell me for the hundredth time how much you love maroon5.
i live for peaceful moments.
we are so different.
& i often feel so worn down
by making parts of me smaller
& trading out pieces for other shinier ones
to make my plainness less noticeable
but our road trip moments make me feel
like the girl on that drive
her entire being
when people say they’ve found the one
they often say that The One makes them a better person
makes them want to be better.
How does this happen?
because you are constantly
trying to make me different.
peel away this awkward layer
restructure the way you think
wipe that look of disinterest off & plaster on fake enthusiasm
is that what they mean?
when they say The One makes them a better person
who are they becoming better for?
or their partner?
because all of these changes
all of these nagging
to fit the book
are all superficial
& not definitive characteristics
but you treat them as if they’re all dealbreakers
in my core
in my deepest parts
i care about family
& having an excellent work ethic
& supporting myself
& being a good listener
& giving back to my community
but that seems almost irrelevant
because i dont like to gamble
& hate last minute plans
& detest all forms of cardio
& hate being interrupted with bombarding questions
& cant function in a messy room
& hate laziness
so let me ask again
when they say The One makes them a better person
i need to know,
the grass is always greener
but here goes anyway
lets covet the grass
that makes up the lawn
in front of the house
we never owned.
i think i could stomach it more
if you were discrete
if it was unseen
sneaky & calculated
to ensure the ultimate deception.
because at least then there’s a trace of respect you have for me.
for fear of ever having been found out.
i can work with unknowns.
exes ive only seen in scrolled through instagram photos
or girls you once sparked with in tagged facebook meme posts
because they dont threaten my present
theyre distant. cordial but not overtly friendly.
& even if they’re not,
you lie well enough to keep my gut from churning
when you mention them in passing.
but this, is different.
its always been my Achilles heel.
obscenely flaunting it
with no discretion
under the pretense of friends.
because crudely calling yourselves that makes it ok to the public,
& nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
i wish i was dumb enough to believe it.
is it so wrong,
to want to be with you
because to see you with her–
correction: to see you try for her
after what we had
makes me insignificant
a place holder.
i learned early on, to only shoot from the hip.
i sacrificed accuracy for speed
& found the quickest way to hurt
to hopefully deter someone from hurting me first.
in a quickdraw
i learned the best insults
are those delicately weaved
with bits of truth.
the hailing blow of rounds
create the initial wound
but the truths become eviscerating shards
that claw their way into every good you thought was yours
i could always win with this tactic
but the victory was hollow
no relationship can survive that kind of attack
because you’d never know whether i really think of you that way
or if i just said it in the heat of the moment.
no amount of kissing soaked eyelashes can erase that.
so i put the guns
the barbed threats
the trophies away
& decided to fight fair
but im still learning.
in those pregnant pauses
when im staring out the window at the passing headlights reflecting in your mirror
im not ignoring you.
im not checked out.
im taking what i think
& dissecting it
evaluating its weight
because sometimes its hard for me to deliver the truth
without feeling like the truth is just a raised white flag.
i dedicate so much time
so much energy
to reasoning with the unreasonable.
but she cheats
& parties all night
& cuts corners
& is lazy
& skates by on her looks
& has no drive or motivation to be more
everything you steer clear of when you list your needs in a partner
— everything you’d despise if it were me.
maybe when she grows up a little
what is it about her that would even give credence to hoping for a grown up version of that?
lets just overhaul the battery
& the steering
& the engine
but keep the car.
because its worth holding out for.
sometimes i wish i could pull a Topanga.
let Corey fulfill his “what if”
& then maybe finally you’ll see
you only desired it because it was forbidden
& actually there really is nothing beneath the surface
a shallow spritz of Victorias Secret “Love Potion”
instead of complicated subtleties with overlapping notes
you’ll tire of the banter,
because as you push your wit
there’s no push-back beyond the first counter attack
& you like her mischievous grin
up until you realize she’s only grinning
because she has no clue about what’s going on
i want it to get old.
so we can grow old.. together.
but ive always been afraid
of placing too big a bet
for too risky a payout
id settle for breaking even
as opposed to losing it all
for a slim chance of playing my hand right
& here i am dedicating way too much time
reasoning with the unreasonable.
where that strained hesitation comes from
& convince yourself that the annoyed tone
with the emphasized shortness at the tail is unwarranted & undeserved
but rewind a couple seconds into the conversation
on how you interject
on how you know best
the way im doing something is inefficient
[despite me doing it that way for all my life..]
therein lies your answer.
I remember vowing to love the one who makes me laugh.
& doesn’t criticize my best efforts or judge my bottomless worsts.
& loves unconditionally.
where did that girl go?
with these unbridled hopes
& promises to herself to remain un-brided
until these seemingly simple necessities are met?
maybe I’m settling..
heck. maybe you are too.