I used to have an aversion to romance novels, preferring Real Stories to tales of living sex appeal ensnaring a damsel into a new life and something about happily ever after. Fantasizing in that cheap reality was an insult to my love, imperfect but steady—instead, I could immerse myself into the sensory chamber of grief and loss, knowing when I re-emerged, gasping, that my life was still in order exactly the way I left it. It's always a surprise, life, that is. Many paths splinter off with every choice, every reaction, every time I fight for better grip on the pieces slipping through my fingers. Once we made egg fried rice in your studio apartment, you pulling me into a slow dance after dinner, pulling me out of my shell, my breath easing with every synchronic movement, integrating into wavelengths that settled into belonging. I choke awake without you, once believing you to be a secure fixture, now just out of reach, like dropping the back of your earring and you swear you felt it land Right There, but now it's gone even though, no, it can't be. I pull these stories close now, investing in the dream that earnestly Being— being embraced even when the rest of the world’s sighs are filled with an obscurity that nestles down into my hardwiring —is a possibility. The canopy that offers relief from the blinding scrutiny was always waiting, a quiet safety, a bid that while sometimes returned clumsily always returns. Some days I kneed a rich focaccia for dinner, while on others there is time only for self-rising flour mixed hastily with a can of PBR and then smothered in butter to satisfy my hunger pangs— to live another day. And as the sun disappears I am greeted kindly by the soft incandescent bulb of a romance, like a prayer warm on my skin that we can be good to one another, or at least to one other. That I can hope to love.
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