Julie pointed to a short line in the middle of a paragraph nestled somewhere between the words “evil” and “modes of valuation.”
“Be weary of man,” it stated.
She raised an eyebrow at me, as if to say, “I’ve known for years.” I pursed my lips and mouthed, “amen.”
I understood very little of what Nietzsche wrote in the remainder of that essay.
The first night I had sex, I was wearing industrial FUPA minimizing Spanx. Actually, the first night I had sex, I did not anticipate that I was going to have sex. In fact, I anticipated a conversation that would be breathy and naked:
“I don’t want to have sex.”
“Because I haven’t had sex before.”
And I was mostly right. Except after the first “okay,” things escalated and my answer changed to, “okay, I want to.”
And then the imagining began. Was this about to hurt? Is this normal? Is this how I imagined it would be? And then my thoughts transformed.
Is he okay? Is he comfortable? Does this feel good? Would he tell me if it didn’t?
In a Russian Lit class about Tolstoy, I’m reading “War and Peace.” Tolstoy, it turns out, sat down to pen his magnum opus with the intention of writing about the year he was in, 1865. But after beginning the large tale, he was unsatisfied with the state in which he found his protagonist.
In his journal entry from that year, he wrote, “In order to understand him, I had to move once again back to his youth, and his youth coincided with the period of 1812, so glorious for Russia.”
But that wasn’t quite enough either, because really, he needed to understand society at a time before 1812 to really write about 1812 itself. So he went back to 1805, and even then, there are moments when the reader watches Tolstoy resist the urge to go back further, going on brief tangents to explain events, both minute and historical, that came before.
Stop thinking about him stop thinking about him stop thinking about him. Just text him.
We smoked together for the first time. I swore there was an old man walking his dog next to us. He had on dad jeans and a baseball hat. For a moment this was a life 40 years from now, us sitting in the backyard, laughing at some old guys talking about business, both reading something academic, in our old worlds but oddly close. I started to get giggly. And then I got paranoid that I was giggly and you thought I was stupid.
I stared at your face for what felt like hours. It could have just been one. You said you remembered a Bible story that you needed to look up. I laughed. Were you suddenly religious? You told the story of a man caught in a flood. You did it slowly, deliberately. The man got on his roof so he wouldn’t drown. He prayed for God to save him. A man with a rowboat came by and said “Get in, I’ll help you!” The man said no. God was going to help him. The water rose higher. A motorboat came by and said, “Get in, I’ll help you!”, but the man said no again. He prayed more. Then a helicopter came by, and over the noise of its chopping engine, the pilot screamed, “Grab the latter. I will help you!” But the man would not. He continued to pray. The water rose and he drowned.
He got to heaven and pleaded to God, “I prayed to you! Why didn’t you save me?” God laughed. “I sent a rowboat, a motor boat, and a helicopter. What more do you want?”
You said you thought the parable was about about how sometimes in life there are things that are good for us, but we don’t take them because we’re waiting for something better, or different, or more. You said you wanted to do better at recognizing good things, at taking them and appreciating them. I thought it was about me. The more I think about it, the more I think we are just so concerned with ourselves. The story had nothing to do with me. It was nice to think about, though.
At 1:45 you told me you were tired. I would never have told you to leave.
The New York Times Modern Love columns are often retrospective in a way that makes me nostalgic for a future time when I can look back on a relationship and say, I was so young. I have matured so much.
I am still young and dumb and want you to want me even when I really don’t want that for myself. Fuck you, Modern Love.
In seventh grade, I gave the boy I liked a box of chocolate hearts on Valentine’s Day under the pretense that I had a spare box of chocolate hearts lying in my locker. He laughed at me and then sent me an “AIM” later that night, “do u like me? say yes or no.”
I sent back “yes.”
We didn’t really talk in school. Is that why I have problems?
Tolstoy knew about love. He understood that the problem with love and attachment is that it grows difficult to separate yourself from the object of your attachment. So much so, that to tell any kind of full story, you must go back in time so far, the story itself becomes something entirely different.
“Jodie you should cut him off cold turkey,” Julie said.
“I’m going to get distance.”
I picked up the phone the next time you called, like 10 minutes later.
I wonder if there are quiet moments when you wonder what I am doing.
You called and said you really needed to talk because you weren’t feeling well and there was a lot going on. I want to say that my primary emotion was sadness that you were sad. But more than that, I felt happy to be needed.
Julie texted me “you taking him out for Valentine’s Day?”
He saw the text pop up on my phone.
“Why would she say that?” He said it genuinely.
Jodie Kahan can be reached at email@example.com.