★★★★ The children took to their scooters, out in another school-holiday morning, breathing clean air amid abundant light. The blue of the sky was at its deepest yet. Only a portion of the flowers in the planters had withered. The mobile phone picked up the audio feed of a teleconference with ease as the scooters rolled back and forth on the bricks. In the children’s bedroom, the mint plant had thrust itself not just toward the window but toward the open gap at the side the window, so that it had to be pivoted to set about rebalancing. In the night, people had settled on the sidewalk on sheets of ca上海千花坊 如何操作rdboard or with folding chairs. It was not chilly enough to duck back upstairs for a jacket. Shadows of leaves in the streetlights moved a little on the wall of the Apple Store.
★★★★★ Light reflected and refracted all through a flawless crystal morning. The breeze gathered strength as it came up Broadway. Sweaters were out, and sport coats. Instead of last week’s hot exhalations, the subway stairs breathed in cool air. A police officer was out below the Flatiron directing traffic contrary to the signals, and then came more police and police cars, and a surveying tripod right out in Fifth Avenue, and a barrier drape, parallel to the lane markings, that did not conceal the red of a pool of blood. A block beyond, the gorgeous day went about its business. Blinding white flared into the office off the shades and blinds half-lowered on the windows of other offices, across the street. The wind flipped the cover of a paperback of Six Centuries of Great Poetry lying on the pavement by an overflowing trash can. The breeze was cool but warm, some inverse of feverishness; the buildings separated themselves from the sky like thick lines of paint coming off the brush. Bunches of wheatgrass and jars of preserves glowed on the Greenmarket. Uptown, a man sat by the curb of Broadway with a canvas propped up, at work on a picture of a building that bore no obvious resemblance to any of the buildings in his view. The wind inflated the cl上海419 龙凤 千花坊oth cover over a parked motorcycle. The sunset sky was featureless but orange fires burned on distant shiny surfaces upriver and downriver, and nearer at hand they seemed once more to burn straight through the tower that would stand in the way.
At first you will find yourself skeptical about this track but as it plays through it will settle itself into your subconscious so that by the third time the chorus comes around you will wonder what you ever doubted about it. Then you will play it again. Enjoy.
“Yeah, we’re going to be 上海千花坊朵朵doing modern takes on classic Brooklyn-American food of our grandparents’ generation, and the only way to do that right is with real meat. So it’s another period restaurant… a throwback to the late twentieth-century, early twenty-first century — but at a much higher level. Think roasted pig’s belly, lots of vegetables charred in cast iron dishes and seasoned with more pork, heirloom borecole salads, steak and beef tartare and tubers, of course, and in a couple of years, aged meats. Unfortunately, not poultry or oysters — which were key to that era’s style of dining — because they’re gone, obviously. What I wanted to get back to again was this period of a certain kind of casual luxury, an era where everyone could afford to be inefficient, when eating meat was normal and natural, and we’re taking the re-creation of that culture very seriously.”
— How will rich people eat out in 2081? Here’s a preview.
“I’ve long had an irrational hatred of tight clothing. A bandage dress? I’d rather actually be in the hospital. Lululemon Apparel? As John Galt once said on a Lululemon bag, ‘don’t tread on me.’ By far the worst phenomenon of the last decade has been ‘skinny jeans,’ designed by a male sadist, miniature pairs tested on dead lab rats. Women are expected to wear tight clothing to be ‘sexy,’ which is bullshit, and similarly many women say that tight clothing makes them feel sexy. The word ‘tight,’ in our current parlance, has positive connotations, as in describing someone’s excellent and modern style or the fine intricacies of the female sexual organ. But tight clothing is threatening to the body. It strangles 花千坊 上海you, it leaves marks on your skin. It is an undertaking: a person is restricted in a tight garment, and even simple tasks are difficult to accomplish.”
by Joe Berkowitz and Joanna Neborsky
Planning the end of a relationship is probably the closest many of us will ever get to knowing what it’s like to plot a murder. Will they see it coming?, you wonder. Some of us are careless, impulsive relationship-murderers, and so the breakups happen spontaneously, the time and place as random as Clue cards. Others plan it all out, postponing, buying time until the perfect opportunity, thinking over the most humane method. Maybe you’ll wait for the vernal equinox on account of your partner’s Seasonal Affective Disorder. But then he or she might forever associate the sadness of the breakup with cherry blossoms and freshly graffiti’d “Nurse Jackie” posters, and who wants to do that to another person? The longer you wait, though, the more you have to pretend everything’s fine, which is a fancy way of lying.
Oddly enough, the most honest moment in a relationship usually arrives once it’s over. It’s the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part of the wedding, only inverted. You tell the couple why they’re terrible for each other, and the couple is you. Suddenly, the preceding months or years have an air of unreality — like they never happened at all or turned out to be one long Christmas Ghost hallucination. When my last relationship ended, it didn’t seem possible that, mere days before, I’d have probably dove into traffic to save a person I’d now dive headlong into a mound of summertime garbage just to avoid seeing at a crosswalk. Of course, being newly single sort of feels like diving into a pail of garbage all the time.
The first few days of being alone again hit like OxyContin withdrawal. Or, at the very least, like a juice cleanse. Only instead of toxins leaving my body, about a shallow lagoon of Merlot floods into it. All the many things I took for granted about the relationship appreciate in value as they suddenly become unavailable. So many inside jokes and dumb little rituals lined up in my mind like a continental breakfast buffet, wheeled away by an overly officious concierge just as I arrive, famished.
This absence manifests itself everywhere. I’m keenly aware of a certain G-chat window’s negative space on my computer screen all day. Unfortunate coworker fashion choices go criminally underreported. The pertinent details of which falafel place I did for lunch are lost to the ages. My day’s narrative simply loses its primary audience, as though cancelled due to low ratings and frequent profanity. I could continue the broadcast on Facebook, dispatching glossy post-breakup PR or the romantic distress bat-signal of Sade lyrics, but being heard is not the same as feeling known. Nothing can substitute for the presence of an actual human person who knows most of your secrets and still somehow wants to make out with you.
The interior of your average Love Cocoon is generously swathed in a level of comfort usually extended only to newborn infants and Greek shipping magnates. When this sensual haven falls away, returning back to the larger world is disorienting. You blink your dewy eyes in the light. You can’t quite remember who you are, and nothing makes any sense. It’s like snorting bath salts while suffering from Memento-disease; there’s bound to be collateral damage. Merging with another person until you become each other’s spirit animals subtly changes you in a bunch of ways that quietly annoy everyone else. The metamorphosis chips away at any individual quirks that might abrade the relationship. Gone is the part of you that used to make up silly songs in the shower or found kombucha kind of disgusting. Instead, there’s this new you, smoothed-out and cocooned. You forget what you’re really like, having opted for what one person likes you to be like.
After you leave the Love Cocoon, it’s bewildering to be out there; this new sanded-down you who is not really you. But then, like someone who has defected from Scientology or the Borg, you get your old identity back. Your rough edges return, extra stubbly. Perhaps some habits discarded during the relationship remain that way, but these mostly pertain to hairstyle. All the other decisions you now have to make alone again force you to reconnect with the person you were, the hardwired you, and take control of who you’ll become. Whether it’s any improvement at all is another story.
It’s never too hard to tell who else at the gym has recently gotten out of a relationship. There’s a certain languid collapse in one’s squat-thrust that scans, even viewed across the room, as psychological freefall and not sore trapezii, or lackluster iPod shuffling. The recently single can pick out their fellow sufferers in the armada of manically red exercise faces. Thousand-yard stares burrow through sweat-flecked mirror-walls as lost souls attempt to SoulCycle. We carry heavy burdens on our shoulders while carrying heavy burdens on our shoulders. The pain just feels appropriate. At a moment fraught with so many lingering uncertainties, such as whether my own romantic instincts in fact hate me, the one thing that makes undeniable sense seems to be self-flagellation via Bowflex. The gym serves as a sanctuary that gives time a familiar shape outside of the simmering booze-cauldron that is my apartment, and instills me with purpose. However, I can barely stand to acknowledge what that purpose is, or why I feel like my former girlfriend and I have entered some sort of cosmic swimsuit competition in which I am hell-bent on nabbing the sash and scepter. Instead, I ignore the obvious. I convince myself I’m just blowing off steam, and that if I happen to become more presentable along the way, it’s just icing on the cake I’m probably not eating.
If it weren’t for newly single people, the New York City Marathon would be reduced to a summit of SuperMoms and emotionally centered Kenyans. Almost nobody would sign up for Improv 101 class. Your company’s throughput would decrease by at least 37%. Nobody is more deliriously ambitious than a person slowly stirring out of post-breakup malaise. You survey the landscape of your life and determine which other areas of it are also in shambles. Some patsy has to take the fall for any lapses discovered, so naturally the entire relationship is reframed as a time when some Jezebellian interloper brushed away your potential with a smudge stick. In this alternate history, which reads like self-penned fan fiction, any surplus career drive or side projects were diabolically pre-empted in favor of Sunday afternoon sex-naps and the many street fairs foisted upon you. But now you are unburdened by such pesky intrusions; now you are going to begin a bold new relationship with yourself and you are going to be amazing. You pamper yourself, splurging on jaunts to Reykjavik and rare Air Jordans; generally acting like you’re trying to get in your own pants (and succeeding, wildly). Any residual soul pain leftover from the remembrance of your Machiavellian ex can now be channeled into the thinly veiled novel you’re writing, or at least your efforts to get through Infinite Jest. Without any pesky human distractions, you and your new other half — also you — will continue unimpeded on the path toward world domination, provided the two of you never discover the Internet.
In the fantasy version of new bachelorhood, anyone you’ve ever had a romantic thought about has been vision-boarding y上海千花坊类似的论坛our breakup the entire time, in such a way that somehow registers as more flattering than creepy. Every fetching stranger on the subway always wanted to talk to you, but intuited your betrothed status and respected its boundaries, much as it pained them. Then suddenly you’re single again and the truth reveals itself: everything is basically the same and also you’re a major narcissist. Meeting people still requires trying, or officially not-trying while still trying super hard. Either way, friends waste little time in urging you to get back on the horse — a suggestion flattering neither to those who might comprise the horse, to horses themselves, or to you with your equine dating pool. Whether you feel ready or not, a new charge seeps into the air at some point, ushering in the return of semi-meaningful eye contact with passersby. It might take a while before you decide to open up and let rejection back into your world, but at least whomever you do verbally glitter-bomb will have never heard your opinions about the afterlife or emoji, let alone grown tired of them. Unfortunately, the fantasy version of such encounters may end up resembling the more traditional genre of fantasy, where warrior-princesses kick hobbit asses.
The newly single go everywhere accompanied by the flapping of red flags. Not without good reason either. Even the most monogamy-inclined among us might emerge from a break-up acting like Amish teens on Rumspringa. Nobody is above that temptation and everybody knows it. In fact, the most acceptable way to avoid any romantic commitment is probably by saying “My name is Ryan Lochte” or “I just got out of a relationship,” either of which is ironclad. But it’s a weirdly hollow thrill to hit it off with multiple someones in the gloaming of a break-up’s emotional wasteland. It makes the experience of dating feel as mechanical and low-stakes as a videogame; specifically NBA Jam, where scoring multiple times in a row sets your avatar on fire, allowing you to breezily sink 3-pointers with minimal exertion. Whenever I’ve ended up living la vida Lochte post-breakup, it’s never been with anyone I really wanted it to be — whether that was an actual person with a social security number, or some idealized Other who makes sexy balloon animals at parties and is “Breaking Bad” conversant. Instead those people often end up serving as a kind of reverse prison lineup — “No, none of these” — helping you to develop a sort of composite sketch in negative of the thief you hope will snatch your affection.
One day I wake up and I’m no longer newly single; just the standard version, with no helpful qualifiers to imply a McRib-style time constraint. At first, there was a novelty. I was back on the market! Possibly in the hands of a no-nonsense realtor with reasonable rates! A few months later, I feel less like any kind of hot property than I do a rustic fixer-upper opportunity, bursting with potential and euphemisms. The mere ability to ask out alluring strangers again — perhaps via pretend dance floor lasso — is no longer enough motivation to do so. Instead, I wait for very particular signals or circumstances, only to discover I’ve misjudged them horribly. I resume my usual complaints: Meeting people is difficult. Games are stupid but somehow necessary. Dating is a process by which humans determine irreconcilable differences — a verbal Myers-Briggs test administered in the dank corners of dimly lit bars. Spend enough time unattached, though, and it becomes your default setting, rather than a freestyle respite from the well-rehearsed dance of a relationship. Some people are so good at being single that they decide to go career with it, forever freelancers. Others are so eager to be done with the unknowingness of it, they barrel into every date as if playing a version of Are You My Mother?, wherein every prospective person seems like The One. But if planning the end of a relationship feels like plotting a murder, then planning the start of one feels more like donning a suicide vest. There’s an element of giving up, and also of a callous willingness to take out a few innocent bystanders. Then again, the sooner you settle for any old relationship, the sooner you’ll be resurrected newly single. And maybe you won’t squander it this time. Once more into the breach, my friends. Welcome back.
Previously in series: My Superpower Is Being Alone Forever and My Superpower Is Being Alone Forever: Party Of One
by Joe Berkowitz and Joanna Neborsky
It’s pretty hard to reverse engineer a meet-cute. These things either happen or they don’t. If you were really serious about it, you could probably arrange for, say, an errant shopping cart to go charging off in someone’s direction and then you could rush up behind it saying, “Sorry, sorry!” and that’s how you’d meet, but then you’d have to live with yourself for the next 50 years or so, knowing that, basically, you’re Elmer Fudd. Sometimes when a radiant single lady comes floating along the sidewalk like a dream, I think about stopping her. But I never would. It just seems as intrusive as a catcall — or an errant shopping cart. I might as well be passing out handbills for a shady-sounding sample sale. So instead I say nothing and then she’s gone. We won’t be accidental seatmates at a dinner party later. It’s a missed non-connection, a moment less significant than if we’d been on line together at Whole Foods buying the same artisanal sherbet. How-we-met stories are overrated, anyway.
When you’ve been single for longer than a pregnancy term, the people who love you start to get concerned. They begin to wonder whether you’ll ever impregnate anyone. Pretty soon they’ll ask some pointed questions about online dating. It doesn’t matter whether you’re single by choice or if you just lie and say you are, some Good Samaritan will always nominate the Internet as the answer to your problems (because you definitely have problems). Any resistance you show might stem from a previous experience with online dating, or from a novice’s view that these websites constitute some sort of Matrix of Loneliness, connecting romantic undesirables and allowing them to mingle badly. Either way, no single answer will ever satisfy the person doing the persuading. The last time I had to explain my aversion to online dating, I surprised myself by agreeing to try it out (again). It seemed like the easiest way to end the conversation.
Putting together a dating profile means performing a self-autopsy and reassembling the pieces into Sexy Robocop. You save what’s worth salvaging and shield the damaged parts with reinforced metal. You strive to find the middle ground between showing you have nothing to hide, and just showing off. You carefully curate your interests as if they were co-op displays in a Barnes & Noble, reveling in the understated complexity of liking both Nicki Minaj and My Bloody Valentine. Your picture gallery broadcasts a series of defensive messages: “See? Other females aren’t afraid of me.” “See? I go to museums sometimes and mimic sculpture-poses because Culture.” “See? I’ve been to a Halloween party so obviously I don’t spend much time alone, crying to The Cure’s Disintegration LP and drinking wine from a can.” Dating profiles reveal more about how you see yourself than how you really are, and more about how you want to be seen than how you will be.
With infinite choice comes infinite opportunities to judge. The more options that exist, the pickier you become. Scrolling through profile after profile, I am transformed into an imperial king, surveying his goodly townsfolk from a balcony on high. Those with minor perceived flaws are summarily dismissed (“Next!”) because surely someone closer to the Hellenic ideal is just around the corner. Anyone cute might be cast aside for the smallest breach of taste: a penchant for saying things like “I love life and I love to laugh” or self-identifying as “witty.” Yet even when I genuinely find myself attracted to someone, I’ll still react with skepticism. What’s the catch? What dark and terrible secret causes her to resort to this thing I am also doing? After scanning closely for red flags and finally deigning her regally worthy, I dispatch a message. But then the truth reveals itself: the king is not her type and also he is not really a king.
Messaging strangers on a dating site is a great way to dabble in Glengarry Glen Ross-style competitive salesmanship. Every hot lead is sure to have already attracted a multitudinous horde of Al Pacinos and Jack Lemmons offering the same bill of goods. You’re all sharing space together in an overstuffed inbox, so words need to be chosen wisely. Asking questions about a prospect’s profile is one way to go — except she probably wrote it months ago and so mentioning her affinity for Frank’s Red Hot now seems as dopey as it probably should. Another option is asking nonsense questions, like who’d win in a fight between Matt Lauer and Brian Williams. (Advantage: Williams.) Since such questions aren’t specific to each lady, though, she’ll probably assume you’re cutting and pasting, and let’s face it — you probably are. When an opening salvo goes sour in person, you can always keep talking. Online, you just get ignored forever. You can send a follow-up later on (“Do you HATE having an awesome time with handsome gentlemen?”) but that smacks of Jack Lemmon-level desperation.
The only way for me to do this without ending up in an existential tailspin is to not take it too seriously. If low expectations can elevate so-so movies, perhaps they can also upgrade one’s dating life from a graveyard to at least a fancy graveyard with picturesque views and atmosphere and motorized carts for the infirm. But even casual maintenance of an Internet dating presence requires sending out the odd message, responding to same, and internalizing the byzantine rules about which topics are off-limits and when to take things offline. It’s a hefty time-suck and it makes it hard to keep up the illusion that this is all just a lark. But if I never get my hopes up, nobody can accuse me of being too invested in the outcome. That way, when we actually do end up liking each other, it will feel more like something that just sort of happened — rather than the result of actively engaging in an organized simulacrum of human mating rituals. “Whoops, I seem to have tripped over my laptop and subsequently bumped into you on the Internet!”
Some dates wheeze to a quiet end the moment you encounter each other in person. Then there’s still a whole night ahead to squirm through. A bad date, at least, leaves you with a fun new story about how everybody’s always a nightmare; a mediocre 上海居家推油千花坊one offers just enough of a good time so that nobody face-plants the table. Going through the motions on a date feels like interviewing for a job you don’t want strictly to keep a parole officer off your back. The more such dates you go on, the more they echo each other and blend together into one amorphous person who’s into Wet Hot American Summer and brunch at Buttermilk Channel, but still incompatible with you somehow. Other times, it’s you who’s the problem. You say one dumb thing (“I would be incredibly easy to blackmail”) and it’s a deal breaker. The disappointment of not being chosen, however, is almost preferable to the Fellini-style ennui of manufacturing chemistry with someone whose interests map well to yours while every moment becoming less certain whether that’s what you even want.
Everyone has a friend who is so charismatic, brilliant or good-looking that the idea of him or her trolling OKCupid is mind-boggling. I am haunted by those friends. What is it that separates us? Is it gluten? I’m at peace with the fact that Drake sings about how jaded he is from being constantly propositioned by beautiful women — because Drake is crazy-famous. My friends who’d never be mistaken as online daters are not famous, but they also possess some ineffable quality that makes them forever F-able. As far as our social sphere is concerned, they might as well be Drake (or nearest female equivalent): They’re stars, and finding them on a dating site would create cognitive dissonance of Orwellian proportions. Personally, I’ve never felt as spectacularly anonymous as I have as an online dater, united with everyone else on the site in that we all have a reason to be there. I can rationalize about Internet dating for days. I can think up reasons for why the way my grandparents met is outmoded. But I don’t want any woman to think she was my last resort, and I don’t want to imagine that I was hers. When we say, “I’m so glad we found each other,” I don’t want it to refer to the way we had to find each other like hidden files in a hard-drive search.
Sometimes a person of interest will disappear from your online dating correspondence, as if whisked away by the Rapture. You just notice they’re suddenly gone and you’re left behind, exactly as Kirk Cameron predicted. The nature of online dating is ephemeral and temporary. It is designed to end and, one way or another, it will; either with a Mission Accomplished banner or an AWOL report. The longer your adventure goes on, the more you start rooting for every attractive person you meet to become the reason you will delete your profile. “I tried it for a while but then I met my lover on the subway,” is what you’d ideally say. Minus the word ‘lover.’ People always swear you only meet someone when you least expect it, which is not entirely true because you least expect it when you’re dead asleep and, personally, I’ve never been rustled out of bed by a stranger who became my new girlfriend. What if you always expect it when you’re supposed to least expect it? Relentlessly checking people out in the checkout aisle, walking down the street trying to force eye contact. Maybe then you gradually give up on Internet dating without canceling your account, and the most expected approach to meeting people somehow manages to surprise you. The person of your dreams reaches out to the profile you forgot you had, and it’s such a good fit that the way you met doesn’t even matter. It could totally happen! It just probably won’t! On the upside, I hear your grandmother has found someone perfect for you. She’s a Taurus with a soft spot for pugs, and she’s going back for her MBA.
by Joe Berkowitz and Hallie Bateman
Some people say they have no regrets. I regret things about this morning. (Also yesterday morning. Pretty much any morning.) Show me a person with no regrets and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t considered all the possibilities. It’s this kind of catastrophe-awareness, though, that can make dating feel impossible. By the time you’ve been through a few relationships, it’s hard not to size up anyone you have feelings for as an ambassador of future regrets. Time misspent. Integrity diminished. Memories that follow you everywhere like Pac-Man ghosts.
Every new relationship is a potential future ghost. It takes an almost delusional level of optimism to ignore the possibility. But we try our best. We’re like the nomadic survivors on The Walking Dead — skeptical of new people, but maybe not enough. The dwindling principal cast on that show always stumbles on a fresh community, gives them the benefit of the doubt, and then somehow it all ends in a bloodbath. Still, they continue searching. Even though I’ve never personally witnessed blunt zombie-fingers rip through buttery chest cavities, I relate to The Walking Dead more than any of the infinite TV series about thirtysomething white-guy malaise. It’s the unlikely suspension of distrust. No matter how badly I’ve been ripped apart before, I never lose faith in the dream of sustainable shelter from the zombiepocalypse of solitude. When I met my girlfriend on a holiday party couch, starting a conversation about her electric blue pants of all things, a voice in the back of my head was already whispering that maybe this time it will be better. Maybe this time it will be the last time.
Very few people up and join a cult as soon as they enter a prayer circle in the freegan farmhouse. Instead, they’re honeypotted with promises of enlightenment, and only gradually discover the creepy clause in the contract. By then, it’s too late and you’re already eliminating suppressive persons from your life and accruing operating thetan levels like cub scout badges. Similarly, when you start to see someone, all you see is their best stuff — the premium anecdotes, conveniently aligned opinions, and outfits with accent pieces. There’s no way to know the other details right away, like whether this person has ever had bedbugs or played quidditch. If we did, we’d all be making sober decisions early on instead of slowly revealing our dealbreakers by hanging out together. Once you get to know someone beyond the way their face makes you feel or their perfectly timed joke about Law & Order: SVU, once you memorize their scars and befriend their pets, it might dawn on you that you’ve finally met someone who ticks all the boxes and even adds new boxes. By the time you lose track of which outfits this person has seen you in, and stopped conditionally customizing opinions, it’s too late — you’ve joined a cult of two, like couples who CrossFit.
If you could train two puddles of vomit to say “I miss you already” a thousand times a day, it would be an accurate performance art piece depicting couples in their Honeymoon Phase. Aficionados would applaud your attention to detail, and Marina Abramović would petition to adopt you. “Honeymoon Phase” is a misnomer, though. An actual honeymoon is just an echo of the initial infatuation, with an all-inclusive resort tacked on. By the time most couples get there, they already know each other so well that any surprises count as full-blown betrayals, signaling a possible invasion of body-snatchers. But during the infatuation phase, even just discovering that my girlfriend also craves fried pickles or that she used to play the violin registers as news worthy of World War III headline font. Infatuation is nostalgia’s cool cousin who knows how to party. Staying in on Friday night is now a slumber party with your best pal, where you order Indian food, watch a horror movie, drink whiskey, and mess around. You feel like geniuses for figuring out you can even do this, and everyone else seems like idiots for being with anyone else. Boring stuff is exciting again, experienced through the new prism of We. That nine-hour train-ride to Vermont just whizzed by! Every new way you spend a Saturday has an aura of infinite possibility. This could be how it is from now on: so wonderful and disgusting everyone else could just puke.
Unlike companies on the New York Stock Exchange, only after single people are off the market can they go public and issue a relationship-IPO. Friends and family receive the announcement happily, but are unsure how much emotional capital to invest, without seeing key performance indicators. Everybody asks whether you two are getting serious, despite the fact that this is a bizarre question. (What are you supposed to say? “It’s actually not serious?” “We make love in the style of Monty Python?”) Now the stakes are suddenly higher. If it doesn’t work, you have a lot of ret-conning to do about why you were never right for each other to begin with and how this is for the best. So you make plans for the future, putting tiny down payments on staying together. You establish routines in dinner preparation chores, along with backrub style and duration. You experience a conscious coupling. There’s now a performance element to things — convincing the world as you convince each other that you’re basically the #relationshipgoals hashtag incarnate. You look to what everybody is saying, or not saying, for a sense of your street value, and hope it doesn’t turn out to be a bubble.
When things are going well, I always start to worry that the other shoe is going to drop — that there’s an entire Narnia-closet filled with other shoes. Any traits I may have downplayed at the beginning aren’t gone forever, but lying dormant. Some people say “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best,” but even I can’t handle me at my worst. I hate that guy! Maybe the ultimate lifehack is finding someone you want to never freak out in front of so you can trick yourself into being perfect from now on. That’s me calmly waiting while our flight delay is sorted out. That’s me, meeting her handsome guy friends with studied nonchalance. It’s not a lie if how I am for her is how I always wanted to be.
Even when it seems we’re past the point in a relationship of playing games, communication can still feel like an exercise in Cold War-era brinkmanship. We say things that seem designed to provoke, because we now know each other enough to potentially implant hidden meaning in any sentence. Each of us is basically a collection of things we’ve learned to say in different situations, which becomes a huge problem when you misidentify a situation. It always turns out that I only thought we were playing games when we weren’t — I might as well have initiated a round of chess with a cat. The only game we’re playing is taking turns on the high horse about who looks at their phone too often. And sometimes Mario Kart. If things were really this good, would I continue to worry so much, or do I only worry so much because things are really this good?
Nothing gets a new couple high on their own supply like having brunch with an inferior couple. You trade glances and sub-table knee-squeezes, aching with anticipation for the moment you can openly talk smack about them. So many other couples practically live inside a mobile dust-cloud of flying limbs while you, well, you’ve never even had a fight. Your existence is a möbius strip of montage sequences — watching the grunion run and skipping stones forever. When the first fight finally does arrive, it feels like a fluke. You make up fair上海千花坊推油ly quickly and laugh it off. Just a misunderstanding that penalties out to some extra affection. How ridiculous that you were even fighting over something so stupid — you’re both such dumb idiots! It’s a little harder to make up the second time. Now, part of the fight is about the fact that you’re fighting at all and how you’re worried the spell may be broken. The slide from “We never fight!” to “We make up well!” feels like the point in a nice dream when you realize you’re dreaming.
Making someone fall in love with you is a magic trick. You misdirect attention from the parts of yourself you don’t want seen, stack the deck with the parts you do, and when it works, you make the rest of the world disappear. But there’s nothing less exciting than finding out how a magic trick works. Maybe you repeat a joke about Law & Order: SVU at the exact same verbal prompt as before, and now it’s clear it was always one from your repertoire. Also, that you have a repertoire. What comes after seeing the same outfits over and over again is hearing the same anecdotes and jokes for a second and third time as you go to more parties together. Once you’re no longer a new couple, something has to replace the novelty. That’s how a magic trick ceases being a trick. People mourn when the mystery starts to wear off, but that’s when you can stop being audience to a magic show.While you’re sitting there at some party, telling the same story again for the thousandth time, you absently touch each other’s arms as though you still can’t believe you’re both there and how lucky you are it wasn’t all an illusion. Abracadabra.
★★★★★ The light in the street was a stage-lighting treatment of daytime, so that a Mercedes, not a particularly well-kept one, gleamed down to its hubcaps. The temperature was a tiny increment higher than ideal for long sleeves; there was a little eyestrain at the crosswa上海千花坊推油按摩lks. This was summer again, remnants tidily packaged. Loose open-backed dark shirts were falling off tanned shoulderblades while they still could. The air conditioning had gone fully insane — it took layers and a raised hood to fight it off. Eventually it was time to take off the layers and go out, to stand on the far, sunny side of Fifth Avenue, by the gutter full of dry trash and sediment, absorbing the gentle blessing of the heat.