the kiss.

it had been so long since she kissed someone, she wondered if she had forgotten how.

because surely this was not how it was meant to go.

wasn't one person meant to go for the top lip, the other the bottom?

she couldn't figure out what was happening.

well, okay, she knew what was happening. sort of. she just couldn't figure out what she was supposed to do.

standing right there on 78th and Amsterdam, kissing.

she almost started laughing and gave up. she thought if she just disengaged, turned around, and walked away, she might be spared the embarrassment.

but eventually they figured it out. reached a tentative meeting of minds. and mouths.

she loved that he turned around right there on the corner--as if driven by his own wonder and curiosity. loved that he had to take his glasses off. loved that he was suddenly a boy, transformed by his own excitement.

because never had she felt more beautiful.

and so when it all ended, she would laugh about just how uncomfortable that first kiss was, but choose to remember that moment when he could just no longer wait--that moment when a grown man became a boy. and she began to fall.

lot's wife

on our first date i wore a navy scalloped skirt. i wore makeup. eye-makeup. concealer, even, which would have been a great comfort to my mother.

and i thought, what am i doing? i was so nervous. but so damn excited.

i entered the restaurant and asked the girl at the front desk if there was a man waiting for anyone. she pointed to the other side of the u-shaped counter in the bar.

i exhaled. audibly.

i had met him only two nights before and while i knew i thought him attractive then, i couldn't remember what he looked like. i feared i wouldn't recognize him. wouldn't be able to pick him out of a crowd.

but there he was. sitting at the bar. and yup, he was cute.

and god i loved how i felt as i walked toward him.

i always loved how i felt walking toward him.

it was the walking away that was hard.

when i called to tell him that i couldn't do it anymore i tried to make it very clear that it was not that i didn't want to. i just couldn't continue in this fashion. and oh how i listened for the moment of hesitation on his side, for the moment that he would fight me. fight for me.

it did not come.

but i had his book. and he had my earring. and such things needed to find their way home.

i offered that he leave it on his stoop and i would carry out the trade. he said such a thing was ridiculous. we could get a drink. be adults about this.

but somehow the drink didn't happen. and because technically it was i who chose to end things, i swallowed this and accepted the short window he provided in which to do essentially what i had suggested in the first place.

i found myself swallowing a lot over the course of our brief courtship. and never failed to be surprised (even in how it ended) by the extent to which he could disappoint me.

my mother told me to let the earring go. to just let it go. ask him to put it in the mail, realize he probably wouldn't and make peace with that.

but the thing was, he had all my secrets. i'd be dammed if he got the earring too.

and so i went. and bumbled there at the bottom of his doorstep for about two minutes.

and then i walked away. and never have i understood the story of lot's wife so well. we look back because we want to know that we're not alone. and oh how i didn't want to be alone. but i didn't. look back, that is. i gathered every remaining shred of self-worth and dignity and walked away without turning around.

(and cried as i did so).

i know i did the best possible thing. the relationship was unequal and unhealthy. he was selfish and i was overzealous. he was not the right guy, and i was not the right girl. and so i walked away. and i didn't look back.

and yet i wished all the while that he'd come up from behind, take my hand, and say let's try just a little bit harder for just a little bit longer.

because for each of his flaws i have my own. i know this.

but he did not.

i lack imagination. in life, i mean. i can't ever imagine things changing. or meeting someone else. and yet i know these things to be certain--more certain than anything else. but my horse-blinders are big, dark and all-encompassing.

perhaps the thing to remember here is that in walking away from him, i am walking toward someone else.

studying strangers.

she was in love with the skin around his eyes.

does that sound strange? it wasn't. it was the most natural thing in the world.

in love with its perfect fragility. its paper-thin translucence.

evidence of something deeply felt and known. evidence of an entire life.

but lying side by side on the floor of the dimly lit living room she looked at that area just around his eyes and wondered if there was not too much life before her--too much life before this moment. a life so full there was just no room.

in the days and weeks and months and years following his disappearance, following the slow withdrawl of his presence, she studied the eyes of many a man she passed. on the street. in a movie theatre. sitting in restaurants. she would get herself into trouble by looking for too long at strangers on the train.

she was fine.

really okay.

but every once in a while she would look up and catch a glimpse of him in a stranger. see those same careless lines leaning in. leading up and around. providing some kind of indiscernible road map.

and it was that that she missed.

that which would undo her.

a cautionary tale. and on how exactly it was that i came to see the face of God in a packet of giant-chewey-sweet tarts.

i have this thing. for dying breeds of candy.

i love them. all of them.

nerds. check. (might not be dying completely, but certainly on the endangered list.)

giant chewy sweet tarts. yes please. pass them this-a-way.

new york city is the place to live when you have penchant for long-ago-passed-over-sweets. (scorekeeper, a point to the city, please).

you see, whereas many a drugstore stopped carrying these throwbacks to the good ole days, we here in manhattan have bodegas and subway stands galore. and these little, movable candy stands never fail to impress.

so that's where i go in search of my now and laters. and my giant chewy sweet tarts. and while they're always a little stale and i find myself yearning for the halloweens of my childhood, i succumb to the call of the sweets, stale or not. beggars, as it turns out, cannot be choosers.

it was thursday night. and i was in the 59th street station. waiting for the A, my chariot of choice. and sometimes, after work, i feel like i deserve those giant chewy sweet tarts. well, as it turns out, i now know to run in the opposite direction as soon as i think i deserve anything. this feeling of entitlement is the kiss of death. in this case, literally.

but back to the chewy sweet tarts. there are four in a pack. and they take some time to eat. and paired with a good book, they make the subway right home almost tolerable. ( oh, yes, long subway rides home; scorekeeper please remove the aforementioned point).

so i pulled out the first one.


or grape, i suppose.

and there i am sitting and waiting for the train as this older african american gentleman croons away next to me (he was quite good, by the way). and i'm sucking on the grape. and it's producing a sweet juice in my mouth and i turn my head to look for the train and boom. the sweet juice (probably more phlegm than anything) slips down the wrong pipe. which if i remember correctly from freshman biology, means the epiglottis didn't close in time and pain was-a-my-way-coming.

so i start coughing. little hiccups of coughs.

and then i stand and start to walk, totally embarrassed that i'm starting to choke to death on the subway platform. because that's what's happening. i am actually starting to choke to death. right there. on the platform.

and here's the thing, my little hiccups of coughs aren't helping. and i can't get a good cough out. and i can't breath. oh, God, i can't breathe.

and there overlooking the tracks i will myself to throw-up. but throw-up what, i think? i'm not actually choking on the piece of the candy--this is just my own body voodoo juice slipped to the wrong place.

so i take in some breaths. and i am aware of the air entering the body and doing nothing. and i become acutely aware that choking to death feels nothing, not-at-all, like i expect. it doesn't feel like it looks (in movies and such).

and there in the 59th street station, standing on the edge of the platform. waiting for the A, listening to the man revisiting marvin gaye's greatest hits, God takes pity on me and grants a burp. a stomach rattling movement of air upward and out.

and it feels like almost nothing. it is far from satisfying. but it grants me life. for another day, at least.

and this burp is followed by another burp. and another. and my panicked shaking slowly subsides.

and i look at the other three giant chewy sweet tarts nestled in the package i still clutch in my left hand, and i think (very seriously, mind you) about whether to save them for later, or dig right in.

and then some wiser power (probably the aforementioned, no?) provides me with one of those rare, lucid moments. and the giant chewy sweet tarts, all three of them, find their way into the garbage can.

the train finally comes. and as i take my seat i flash on all those iconic scenes of new york city single gals coming oh-so-close to meeting their maker. miranda choking on chinese food. or liz lemon nearly done in just hours after jack's warning, "i would think that biggest thing a single woman has to worry about would be choking to death alone in her apartment."


here's what i think:

turns out it can happen on a subway platform too.

and it's high time to find myself a man. or an insurance policy inclusive of such an end.

the twist.

i think the boy who runs the corner store might just be in love with me.

he knows i love baseball and has determined (quite injudiciously) that 1. i am beautiful and 2. that these two qualities warrant his affection.

but the thing is--

my soda water (for this is what brings me to the corner store) always bubbles over explosively upon the twist of the cap.

and i can't determine if that is reason enough to marry him on the spot, or never return.

image via sabino.