Campus Life cursed thoughts

To you. Yes. You.

Living out my new year’s resolutions

I woke up today and thought about how it’s my last first day, felt anxiety grip me in sweat and thought, how, how, how; is this it? I woke up today and I reread some of the messages I sent you last night. I’m listening to a very specific playlist, even though I probably don’t understand all the songs quite right.

I sat up in bed and cried, because it’s my last first day. I thought about how much I’ll miss you and how close and far you are and how you, too, have that power to recontextualize things for me.

I’m scared, but more ashamed that our situation seems like an insurmountable hurdle. It’s not easy for me to hear how I’m loved, when circumstances necessitate that I won’t be able to feel it.

I got out of bed slightly too late, and texted you for a granola bar, and I walked to class thinking of you. I was distracted in class, despite the fact that it’s my last first class. I called my parents on the way home, but couldn’t speak right, and I felt something of substance hollowed out inside myself.

You said parallels; you said narratives. About the playlist and the spreadsheet and the dumplings we’d planned for today and how we’re living our lasts this semester.

It is my last first day, and I am looking to the future and knowing that I will be lonely without you.

I texted you that my head felt stuffed full of little paper scraps, and we ate breakfast together and I kept thinking, thinking, thinking. It hurt.

Today is my last first day, and I went to get coffee with you, but we ended up eating tortas in an alleyway instead. I wanted to share something that belonged to me, but you picked up the bill. I’ll get it next time; the days are so short; one more round of coffee. 

We went on a walk throughout Porter Square and I thought about how happy I was to be there with you. Grateful, even, that I woke up today in the mood to ride the T for three hours.

My life is so full of love now; I’m terrified to watch it go.

But I don’t say “I love you” enough, do I? I don’t say I love you enough because sometimes I can only back away from the intensity. Sometimes “I love you” makes me feel backed into a corner, because there is so much substance in those words. It stings to see how much power I hold and how much power is held over me.

I won’t be gone, because I don’t want to be gone, but I don’t brush my teeth every night with Ruth anymore. And we don’t make breakfast together the way we always say we will. And we drive each other crazy, sometimes, and I’m sorry.

I don’t say “I love you” enough and you thought this article would be about someone else.

But it’s me, it’s me, it’s me; I will do better in the morning.

It’s my last first day, and I keep listening to the playlist I made last night. The songs on that playlist feel like they belong to other people. Many things in my life belong to others:

I want to hide from them, but I can’t because I love you. Yes. You.

I keep thinking about what you said in that Zoom room: “while you all are experiencing so many lasts, I’m getting many of my firsts.” And I said thank you, right? For sharing those firsts with me?

It’s my last first day, but it’s different because it’s no longer the last “first day” of a semester, but it’s my “last-first” the same way that “sorry-grateful” and “laugh-shrimp” fit together like puzzle pieces in my head. It’s my first day of classes, and the last time it’ll happen this way, but the first time that we’ve made dumplings together in the kitchen.

I keep making a list of last-first things:

It’s my last-first day and I’ve been on the T for three hours now. I’m trying to live in memories and hope for the future and remain in the present moment; impossibly I think I might actually be doing it, but not enough — never as much as I want to. 

You told me to take the T across the river and I finally listened. And these are spoilers, but I already messaged most of them to you anyway.

I realized, first, that you must hear “Kendall/MIT” so often. Do you ever think about getting off there? Did you used to have the instinct? Has it been a while since you considered it an option?

And then we passed the stop and I waited with a playlist in my hand and I felt more than saw the light coming into the cabin. The song changed to dodie's “Arms Unfolding” and, stupidly I thought, emerging: it was once dark but then it was light.

The river was frozen over and the surface dusty. I could only think, G*d I hope you see it too. I thought about that Hozier song. I probably still don’t understand it quite right, but listening to it makes me think of you.

I imagined when you saw the river the first-last time, it was probably moving and the waves glistened. And it was too bright to look at directly and maybe that made it hard to see. Difficult to look at, in the same way that love is for us, but substantive.

And I think you probably thought I was thinking of someone else, but I could only think about how I hope you see it often. I want to watch it with you, but we will have all the time in the world.

Thank you for sharing that with me.

I got back to New House late because I stayed a bit longer talking to you. It feels unfair to write it here before everything has been said, so I won’t write it yet. But I will work on not saying “kid,” especially because that care is not gone — it won’t be if I can help it.

When I got back home we messed up the recipe for dumplings and I played Tracy Chapman in the kitchen and I sang along to it a little, did you hear me? And you cracked my back the way we’ve been trying to do for a semester. It hurt but not physically. It hurt because it was last-first and because I don’t think you’ll understand this article, even though it’s for you.

And I almost cried, a couple of times really. The last-first of which was when you laid your head down on my arm like you do when you don’t know how to comfort me but still want to be there. Thank you for staying. I’m so proud of you, kiddo. I love you so much; I say that in many ways, but in words less often.

The dumplings tasted really good even though the shrimp was precooked and we had to improvise. That’s often how cooking goes for us. Don’t forget me next semester when you’re figuring out what to eat in the midst of classes and psets and meetings and stress.

I sent you a video of the dumplings and our kid trying them. I’m trying to make sure this isn’t the end. Maybe our lives are running in parallel, but that’s how the narratives work, love, each two inches to the left of the other. I want to delete that word “love” because we don’t speak like that to each other. But I’m leaking out to you — for you. I just want to say that I believe what I heard in those songs, and I’m oddly looking forward to our individual office hours tomorrow because it’s the last-first step towards something.

I finished the dumplings and started writing these paragraphs, but got interrupted because we ended up on the floor of my room swapping stories from the past week.

It was a type of fun I haven’t had in a while. I tried not to think about how last-first it felt because I want to have so many more of those moments. I thought about how you put up my fairy lights last semester, and how I can still see us there, balancing on the corner of a chair. But then I was in the present and we were giggling about my boss and I threw my body back into a full laugh.

And now, I’m in my room writing this and wondering if anyone other than you will understand these words, but also whether you will understand them yourself. But my stomach is full from the dumplings we shared and my bones are full of so much light they’re going to burst along the cracks.

I think, I will fall asleep happy tonight.

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