It Is Of You

Originally published in OAKZINE’s LA MEGA ISSUE

We met in the far away closeness and the chaos of a warehouse fire in Downtown, Los Angeles. A hashtag. Pulling the story together as we watched it rage from different windows. We exchanged information in real time, following disaster chasers, offering different angles of the same of the black cloud. I’d never touched her, never smelled her, but I knew her. Maybe I’d seen her before in some coffee shop, freelancing her days away like the rest of them.

In her photo she wore a similar ratty white T-shirt to the one that was slowly rotting off my body.

Eyes obscured by those goddamned wayfarers. We liked the same derivative music, the same entitled artists, the same dying culture. This isn’t a new story; it’s not an old one either. From the ashes grew affection. Correspondences quickly turning to email, email quickly turning to text.

We were lonely people in sprawling cities.

Promises three paces in front of practice. Exactly what was designed to happen. She had another, another who loved her deeply – perhaps even she had more. I spent my nights thumbing deep into the scrolling abyss of her digital fingerprint. She hated the way her roommate slurped coffee from a mug, and she thought more women should identify as feminists. She thought cats that rode Roomba’s should run for office and she hated her father. She posted Neruda quotes fashioned out of bad typography and she was annoyed by people who saved seats in coffee shops before they had their drinks and she posted at least one James Blake remix a week.

Quietly falling in love with the idea of one another. Our happiness was a quiet, gentle beast that need not stir the ether tunnels as we clawed toward one another. My life turned inward, sore thumbed and hunched over. Evolution in reverse. We knew both sides of its potential, and even in the months of forced silence when the tension of wanting to be inside one another was at critical mass, her current siphoned its way into my veins. Not like heroin. Like gasoline. There wasn’t enough desert sage in Southern California that could wash her off me.

We’d meditate in our analog ashrams to recover until the ancient pull took root and spread in the tar pits of our stomachs. When obsessing over our fantasy and writing 140 word stories about what we’ll do with one another, if we could — between wellness shots, mezcal shots, espresso shots and that one tetanus shot — someone would crack open, make a playlist thinly veiled as content, strategically placed lyrics like a vintage ransom letter, and our world would split right open again.

For a year it went like this. Until the day we accidentally met. On the 302 bus. Texting one another.

Suddenly everything was gilded. And she was King Midas. She smelled like that section of Beverly, close to Rossmore, of fresh cut grass and botanicals and outside. Gray eyes that rolled back on cue when she overheard something she hated. Immediate strangers and ancient friends, she stood close to me and, I liked it. I loved her, and I barely knew her name.

We became fast foes, fucking between silences, wrapping ourselves in blankets on beaches, posting up in caves, making short-lived fires out of butane and old love letters. We drove in silence and listened to songs we secretly loved with someone else.

We shared meals; she would pick her favorite bits off my plate. This girl wore her trauma like a pair of Levi’s. Classic, fit like a glove, and taking forever to fade, and I wore her like a rose gold-plated albatross. A badge of love. Gone south for winter, spring and summer.

I longed for her undivided attention but her eyes were always wandering, a gaze that patterned around the world outside her window and what was happening on her phone. Whatever we were looking at, the highway, the ocean, always staring down at the phone. Looking for another

fire. As if her longing to escape wasn’t tangible enough, the prison of my elected company was too this fated bird.

We set intentions under distracted stars. We calibrated our affection on the lunar cycle. We tried to bleach out the black. We grew apart together — like this goddamned beautiful city.

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