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Do some men just have a sixth sense for knowing when you’re single, however momentarily? Is it the animal in them?

An ex of mine texted me out of the blue, a guy who’s known me since I was nineteen. The last time we had sex was in his shower, in a house where no one we know lives anymore. It was awkward—I sat on the tiled ledge next to the soap and he tried to slide in between my legs, but for some reason or another things didn’t line up. Anyway, he lives in Manhattan now and works at a hedge fund. Every time I see him I’m astonished by how handsome he is, that we ever dated is a long con that never gets old. Whenever we talk he tells me he loves me—it’s sweet to hear, even if he doesn’t mean it. I still feel my heart leap up to meet him every time he says it.

Let’s talk about this for a moment now, the way a heart leaps up. Like an animal who knows its name is being called. There are people for whom I feel caught forever in a daze of yearning, as though our relationship wasn’t a fixed length of time but a season, a feeling. Step back and we’re in it, the cherries are blooming again. Do you know what it feels like to just want without object? Do you know what I mean when I say a body needs? Here’s one fashion of love, carrying around a wound inside you, trying to find someone who has a complementary wound too.

He texted me something stupid, like, “None of these girls are as cute as you.”
I sent him back a selfie.

Sometimes I think of my heart as a rotating case of cakes in a bakery, except they’re all just the cakes that I have eaten. The cakes are men and some women. The metaphor is that people stay with you, and sometimes they even become very dear.

When I was in college, I used to see a guy who would dominate me. We never fucked but what we did was better. The night we met, he tied me to his bedposts and undressed me, rolling down my tights. Massaged my clit with the blunt leather end of the belt he used to whip me. Sumptuous is the word, the way we danced around touch, the way he coaxed me to the very edge and razor-sharpness of myself. I learned a lot from him. He lived in a house with high ceilings and his room was always very cold.

I saw him again a few weeks ago. He was in town for an event and he crashed at my place. I looked at his long body in my bed, the clean white length of his torso, and wondered at how the familiar so quickly grows un-, and familiar again.

People recur. We find new loves easily, it’s our resilience, it’s what we’re made for. But who doesn’t want to say to someone, “O you were the best of all my days” while you’re still with them? When isn’t it true? Aren’t we always banking on a nostalgia that repeats itself and grows old?

What I’m trying to say is that everything ends. You, me, the universe. But more often things also dip back with the seasons. Extend a shadow long past the horizon of everything you understand to be true for yourself. Just when you think it’s over, you learn it’s not, not at all.


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