Field Trip: “Just Do You” on Lady Clever



The following is an excerpt from my piece “Just Do You” on Lady Clever:

When my brother was in the second grade, his teacher pulled my mom in for an afterschool meeting to discuss something of exceeding import: his birds. “You see these?” she asked my mother, pointing at an army of black-crayoned “v”s on construction paper with accusatory menace. “Yes?” my mom said, confused as to where this was going. “Well, there’s clearly something wrong with your kid,” came the response.

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something like fires.


I feel myself being marginalized, compartmentalized. Kept on a tiny shelf, a row on aisle ten of a grocery store. Work goes here, friends go here, love goes here. I miss young love, messy love, reckless love. The type of love I have no right to feel any longer. Because you make enough mistakes by 30 to know better and feel worse. Mistakes are the regulator, the noose you tie around a sore and ready neck sensitive to the familiar pressure of inevitable end. A skip, a fall, a hiccup, and it’s all over. And so you dangle loosely, the fiber of a rope chafing your chin while your toes cling to the edge of a wooden chair. Don’t move. Don’t move. Don’t love.

You break apart the gallon jugs, the liter jars. You learn to measure out love in teaspoons, little doses to see the effect you have on a person, how you affect another human being’s limbs, verbiage, motor skills. Too much and it kills them. Too little and they leave.

Oh, I miss that young love. The love that made me move into a house with a practical stranger, just because he put Clementines in my bag before I went to work, drove around with me in a gold car with stained floor mats to meetings that didn’t matter, windows down on a Los Angeles freeway. The love that put me on a plane to Paris after knowing someone 12 hours and 4 drinks, 1 comment about packing me in his suitcase and bringing me everywhere. I miss the love that burns like bonfires, sucking the oxygen out of a room and killing everything else inside.

I don’t want the right love at the right time – a person like a shoe that fits every curve, even your bad ones, the places where the bones shouldn’t grow. I want the wrong love at the wrong time, a love as practical as a Yugo with cracked leather seats and a leaky engine that you love because, goddamnit, you love Yugos — no matter what your friends say, your mom says, your brain says. The affinity is there. It lives in you like a dormant disease that’s waited your whole life to be released.

All I know I know is that those loves – the Clementines, the trips to Paris – are gone, and anyone who says love like that comes back is a liar. Because there is something called trust, which lives somewhere next to love. Trust is a sandcastle, made of millions of unseen grains. You cannot live inside a sandcastle; it is dense and impenetrable, a lump thing that is taken all or nothing. When it is swept away, all those million particles disappear. Trust has no architect. You cannot rebuild it. There is no blueprint, no rules, no way of recovering what is lost when it is lost. And so — after the storm hits, after the waves roll in, washing trust to sea — those little pieces of things you once had go off to make other sandcastles elsewhere or become pearls in gnarled mollusks.