By Samuel J. Fox
Young, restless, and not often enough excitable, I am sitting on a porch overlooking the apartment complex. The night is cold and sticks to my skin1. A cigarette pouring smoke upwards into the air, a pitcher for a moon spilling light across my hands. No one should be up at four am. At least, no decent person. There is work to be had in the coming hours and so many small tragedies to complain about. When the gas tank gets low. When the Wi-Fi bill is to be paid. When the pocket feels light and linty. However, I can’t stop thinking about a morning like this three years ago.
My phone plays Bob Seger and, though my beauty was 5’1’’ and had a pixie cut, I can’t help but hate how music threads memories unannounced into the patchwork of another moment. I look up into the deep, starless, beaten-periwinkle sky and think bobdammit, God. The car smelling of tobacco and her hair. Her teeth on my bottom lip. Her nose pressed into mine. The quick trip up the flight of stairs into my room2. The clumsy laughter in stripping each other of clothes before flinging them across the room in a cyclone of kissing. The desire fulfilled. The heat from our bodies beating back the numbing, November cold. The micro-fiber blanket pulled over us, still damp, still huddled together, her lower back to my navel.
You know, God, you tend to be on the sadistic side3. You giveth and then you taketh away rude and unpreventable as a toothache. I watch a car leave the complex. I think where the fuck does anyone go in a twenty stoplight town at four in the morning? Maybe to restock on sativa. Maybe to the gas station for cigs before chugging away the blue-lit hours. Maybe to respond to a booty-call. Regardless, all I can think to do is be grateful. I almost pray. Almost. It would have been for thanksgiving. That I had been loved at all.
These days, all my high school classmates (whom I hated and still loathe but not enough to do so to their faces because I give minus Celsius fucks) are married with children or married or just with children and I want to know if it was worth it: to have fallen in love early. I’m rounding the bend towards thirty and my body yearns for nightly consummation in a love that doesn’t exist. All the men and women since have been late night instant gratification that became friends who found me slightly selfish or confused4. All I’ve ever wanted is to be told I belong or am beautiful. I’m still working on my night moves. I blossomed late into this world, without understanding the consequence therein. A miniscule miracle in a world of people who have lost the passion for searching. I feel like a rose bush might this hour: brittle, pretty, and itching to cling to the shirt of a passerby, all to whisper look at me and stay a moment longer5.
1 51 degrees with 100 percent humidity calls for boot-cut jeans and a ridiculously baggy hoodie, barefoot of course
2 We both tripped on the second to top stair and she fell into me laughing and there is where the mental snapshot of her smile never leaves me. I keep it pinned to the front wall of my skull and see it every time I sit down to write.
3 Isaiah 45:7
4 And more than likely a bit too queer to bring home to meet their mothers.
5 for ain’t it funny how the night moves / when you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Samuel J. Fox is a bisexual essayist and poet living in the Suburban South. He is poetry editor at Bending Genres. He is nominated twice for Best of the Net and once for a Pushcart prize in 2017. Find him on Twitter (@samueljfox).