Artificial Sweetener

Artificial Sweetener

He walked in.  The aroma of basil, pesto, and crushed red pepper was so strong that you could almost see it.  Homemade pasta was being pulled through the fingers of Italian specialists, but that kind of entertainment interested neither of us.  His eyes carved through the room until they found my face.  His eyes stopped there, and then his body carved through the room until I found him sitting right next to me.  He pulled his chair up close so that our knees were touching and then leaned forward.

"You are the most beautiful girl in Los Angeles." Then he kissed me.

And I believed him.  Yes.  I believed him just like I would believe him when he would later promise to write to me when he left for several months on a work trip.  And I would continue to believe him when he told me a few letters had been sent and even a surprise package was on its way.  And that faith wouldn't stop there either; it would live on as he wondered out loud, "How on Earth could everything I sent your way get lost in the mail?! What's the address again? Let's double check..."

We talked about our day at the dinner table while tearing into the bread that was so warm I almost wondered if I were eating a living breathing thing.  As far as conversation went, it was the every day stuff that floated around the table: Traffic.  Getting an item in the mail he had been expecting.  What funny thing his mother said and the way his dad had reacted... Little stuff. The recap stuff.  The kind of stuff that's not worth telling anyone, really, maybe just to the one or two people I think really care enough to listen when I open my dumb mouth.  It's the fluff-stuff topics that we take for granted until we're alone and want so badly just to have someone to talk to about old Seinfeld re-runs that our stomachs start to ache.

He reached under the table and tickled my knee.  Every time he reached under the table, his hands became a bit more courageous.  I would remember that forever: What it felt like to have someone reaching out for me.  What I would forget was the time he told me he went out to play pool with Mark when he did go out...But not to play pool with Mark.

After dinner, we went on a walk downtown.  We explored Silverlake.  We went to The Thirsty Crow and downed a couple of fun drinks.  Back then, I only drank more than one drink with someone I trusted.  And I had trusted you.  

We fell asleep in the guest bedroom of a good friend's apartment.  In the middle of the night, I felt your fingers slip under my top and rest on my ribs.  Piano Keys under a lace curtain. You played me a melody.  We sang with our lips...and then with the rest of our bodies.  And our skin contrasted each other under the covers, bronze on white.  Then white on bronze.  And so forth and so on until the sun peeked in through the layers of screen, glass, and cloth.

I didn't realize I had fallen asleep until I woke up.  When I opened my eyes and turned my neck to see you, you reached around me and pulled me in.  I'll never forget that.  The warmth.  The comfort.  The ability to live in that very second because I didn't need the past or the future when the now was that good.

We were naked. Vulnerable.  I felt naked. Vulnerable.  It was then that you opened your eyes wide to show me you were, in fact, awake.  And then you said it all in one breath: I love you.  And how heavy those words were, how much weight they held, and the way they pushed me back and stunned me. Oh, wish I could forget how it felt.  But. I can't.  Maybe one day.

But instead, I would forget what you told me one night many, many months later.  I would forget about learning that there was not only being alone and being lonely, but that there was also a being without you.  I would forget how you took inches from me and slowly changed me into the Twirling Ballerina made of Plastic, the Social (media) Diamond, The Masterpiece.  

Somehow, you painted me with your own colors and, though I thought it was impossible, I forgot how much I loved the color green.  We took plenty of pictures of the sunset...of us...but not of each other.   Somehow, you started to make me into something i'm not.  I'm not sure when it happened, but one day I woke up and I didn't want to be me; I wanted to be the girl that you wanted.  And when I couldn't make the final cut, I apologized for not being enough.  

Somehow, when I think of you, I only hear you laugh light heartedly.  Only feel the soft touch of your lips.  Only see you reach out for me.  Only smell your porcelain skin on mine.  Only taste it. 

I can only taste the sweetness.

I can't taste the bitter.  Why can't I taste what it really was?

Isn't it terrifying to know emotions can erase the faults from the mind?
Love is beautiful.  Love is dangerous. Love is sweet.  Love is blind.

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