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Love Story

       I tell you I don’t believe in soul mates because believing in soul mates requires you to believe in a higher power or fate or some sort of predetermined truth and I‘m totally out on that stuff. And besides, the world is too big. Too many people, you’d never know you found your soul mate. I say I believe in science, coincidence, and reality, and that life is essentially random and nobody gets what’s coming to them, because nothing’s coming. And you ask me, with an easy smile, how I know. I say I don’t, and that’s good enough for me. You kiss me and tell me to shut up and kiss you.

 

       I tell you that I have an intense desire to write about you, to put you on paper, because you are the most fascinating person I’ve ever met. You slap me and say bullshit and tell me you’ll never read it. Because you’ll never be able to read all that English. I tell you I’ll translate it and you say you wouldn’t read it anyways because who the fuck wants to read a love story based on science?

 

       I roll you over and slap your ass and kiss you behind the ear and whisper that I wouldn’t write a love story about you because we aren’t in love, that this is before love, that we’ll never have time to be in love. And that I don’t believe in love stories because they tend to leave out a lot of important details. You turn your head and ask me what I’m going to write about, then, and I say probably just this. And I fall back on top of the bed and you slide on top of me and I say, isn’t it crazy? 

 

       “What?” You say. What’s crazy?”
 

       “What had to happen for us to be here.” 

 

       You are very je ne sais pas, for now. You speak like an academic turned novelist turned spiritualist. You’re curious. You’re beautiful. The stop and stare variety. This bothers you, but it gives you something you think you need. You told me you only downloaded dating apps to see how many guys swiped right. Sometimes your daughter answers my texts, which is new for me. You’re twelve years older. I want to figure you out, but I don’t know if I have enough time. 

 

       It is a strange linguistic quirk that we fallin love. Curiously, it is the same in Chinese, perhaps in other languages as well. Falling is usually bad—“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” “Fall into debt” “Fall out of favor”—but we fall in love, I suppose, because falling is not something ever expected. Something about jumpinginto love, runninginto love, sounds cheap and lacking in mystery, and, most of all, under our control. To extend this metaphor, fallinggenerally requires getting back up. So, you fall in love and then you get back up—maybe you get back up together, maybe you don’t. If you do in fact get back up together, with the one that you’ve fallen with, you start to transition into the other kind of love, the standing kind. Plunge into infatuation, emerge into comfort. You settle into day to day love. You move from wanting to needing. It is hard, frankly, to see how these two concepts are connected—infatuation and raising children, raw passion and clearing out the dishwasher. But, in our world, they tend to come in succession. Sometimes, we spend the remainder of our relationships wondering when and why we got up. 

 

       But, it won’t be like that for us. Because I’ll be gone. I’ll never pick up your packages from the post office. I’ll never drive your daughter to school. I’ll never make you a birthday dinner. You’ll never meet my parents. You’ll never water my plants. We’ll never plan a trip together. We’ll never ignore each other for a few days over some stupid shit—because we just don’t have time.We’ll never get up. 

 

       “You can’t explain it, can you, smart boy?” You say. “Why I’m here with you and you with me.”

 

       “Yeah. I can explain it. I was born, I grew up. I started studying Chinese. Things happened. I moved here. I downloaded an app. I took you out for bubble tea. You liked it.”

 

       The moon and city lights leak through the curtains. You’re looking at the ceiling. I put my arm under your bare back. I trace my finger across the scar on your abdomen.

 

       You believe in balance. And I agree. What goes up must come down and vice-versa. But we should try to limit the severity of the swings. We feel most alive during the revolution, during infatuation, we feel most alive before the final score is up. We think we want our team to win by 30 because that will make us feel the most assured for the longest period of time. But, what we really want is our team to win at the buzzer, because that will give us the greatest rush. The difference between the falling type of love and the standing. Passion and comfort. We crave positive swings of emotion, fear negative ones. But, you can’t have one without the possibility of the other—the gambler’s dilemma. Balance is a sacrifice, but also a shield. 

 

       You claim, just like me, that you seek balance. But this isn’t balance. This is an earthquake. This is off the axis.

 

       “It’s so… gray, when you say it like that. Even if it is ‘true.’ Too rational.” You sigh. “It’s so nonfiction.”

 

       You scratch my neck.

 

       “It’s too bad,” I say.

 

       “What?” You ask, still scratching. “What’s too bad?”

 

       “That we aren’t the same age, that we’re from different worlds, that this is totally ephemeral.”

 

       You laugh, “Little boy,” you say, “but isn’t that exactly why it’s so good?”

How Free is Free?

How Free is Free?

Questioning Reality in Mandarin

Questioning Reality in Mandarin