We were not dating, you were not my boyfriend, we were beyond those sorts of commitments, we were so woke, we could transcend all those prickly, binding words. Our generation does not like definitions, we do not like to be restrained, you were not my boyfriend. We were not dating.
We were not dating, we were friends, just friends, my guy, so it meant you did not have to return my phone calls and you did anyway, so that meant I was special.
We were post-modern friends engaging in post-mortem love, except you’d think dystopian love would be more impactful because it’s all you get in a world full of poisoned water and dying bees.
You’d think nihilist millennial love would make you dig your fingers in and hold on because you cannot know when anything will be gone. We cannot even afford to be alive, you’d think we would know how precious it is to intertwine fingers and fall asleep feeling wanted. You’d think we would learn to want the last good things left.
Maybe that’s the problem. We don’t trust that anything is real anymore.
We were not dating, and you woke me up night after night for months at a time, crawling into my bed and telling me you missed the way my hair smelled, you loved me, you loved me, you loved me.
We were not dating, and you pressed your forehead against mine and told me you had loved me since you met me, you had loved me for a year.
We were not dating, and I began leaving my ringer on when I went to bed at night, in case you called, because you usually did.
We were not dating, we just sat naked wrapped in each other at the window with the lights off smoking cigarettes, spilling our guts and our dreams in each other’s laps again and again.
We were not dating, and you pulled me into you, not one time, many times, saying, Get closer.
We were not dating and you did not want to share me with other lovers but you could not ask for that because we were not dating. We were not dating and neither of us had other lovers.
We were not dating and we wept in each other’s arms and you told me I was the moon. We were not dating and when I got scared of the fallout, you rushed to my house, you told me a part of you said, I am off the hook, and the rest of you said, You love that girl, something is wrong, go be with her.
We were not dating and my body never felt safer with any man before or after you, we were not dating but you looked into my eyes while you were cumming and told me I was holy,.
We were not dating and I told everyone we were trying on friendship again after Everything That Had Happened. We were not dating and you told me, After a year, I still long for your touch.
We were not dating so you didn’t have to show up if you didn’t want to, we were not dating, so you didn’t have to say why or when you’d be back.
We were not dating and we discussed politics and feminism in bed and I wrote poems about fucking you and we talked about the misogyny of the Cool Girl Trope, and then I was the Cool Girl for you.
We were not dating and I could have done it like this forever, but every time you stopped showing up I was afraid to call, because when you needed space it meant you needed to pretend I was no longer a person you knew, and this was okay because we were not dating.
We were not dating and I could only be cool when it felt like this love wasn’t going anywhere. We were not dating and if I could just be cool, then you wouldn’t tell stories later about how I was crazy.
We were not dating and you blamed me when people thought we were, and you also told me you didn’t want to be anyone’s secret.
We were not dating and you wanted to make sure everyone knew we were not dating, but you also wanted them to know we were fucking when it suited you.
We were not dating and we had long conversations about how we always ended up coming back to each other’s arms, and we did so while holding each other close in my bed, wrapped in my blankets.
We were not dating and we said things to each other like, I want to wake up with your skin against my skin. We were not dating but we loved each other so it didn’t matter.
We were not dating and I started getting real high at night to offset the suddenness of your absence, to try and stop myself from waking up at 3 am expecting you. We were not dating and I missed you but I was only allowed to miss you at times when you missed me back because missing you at the wrong times meant I was clingy.
We were not dating and you left books and items of clothing and liquor at my house, so much that I am still drinking your whiskey even now.
We were not dating and my dog stopped barking at the sound of you climbing the stairs. We were not dating and you took my scarf and wore it all winter. We were not dating and each time you returned you told me what I meant to you, how you would be kinder to me this time.
We were not dating so I have nothing to call you by now, it is as though you were never here, except you were. You put your hands everywhere and everything you touched is now rotting and half-collapsed. We were not dating and I got used to you being here, so wanting you here was my fault and my problem. We were not dating so none of this has to be on you. We were not dating and I am crazy.
We were not dating and you are not my ex, you are a year’s worth of poems. A collection of things you left in my apartment, now packed in a Rubbermaid bin at the back of my closet that I cannot bear to part with.
The reason the smell of American Spirits and whiskey combined makes me comforted and wet at the same time, and I wonder if, in your home, there is still a trail of bobby pins telling my story.
I bet they are there, stuck in the carpet and on the bathroom sink, amid all the clutter. We were not dating and you never threw anything away but people. We were not dating, we were never dating, there was nothing to throw away, nothing to dismiss, nothing to sever. We were not dating, this cannot hurt, neither of us was ever here.
written by Nina Szarka
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