Notes to the Last and Second to Last Lover by Sara Adams
Notes to the Last and Second to Last Lover
I slept bad with you. I lived unpleasantly. YOU WERE THE FIRST THING IN MY ENTIRE HISTORY OF ENCOUNTERING OBJECTS—AND I DO NOT RESTRICT THIS TO PHYSICAL OBJECTS; I MEAN TO INCLUDE CONCEPTS—THAT I SIMPLY WISH HAD NEVER EXISTED.
I am not a completely irrational person. I can admit that it is altogether stupid to feel some of the things I feel, miss some of the things I miss. After all you’re not the only person with a mouth. You’re not the only person that generates heat. You’re not the only person that wears pants and then sometimes takes them off. People say there are no wrong feelings like there are no stupid questions but these feelings are wrong and stupid, and I can accept that and I can accept what that means. I can’t really manage it but I feel like it’s just a process and though I am proceeding slowly, I am proceeding.
But there is no one else that fits some of these criteria. For example, it’s stupid too and probably wrong in multiple ways but it’s distinct: kissing you is like eating piece of whole wheat bread with inconsistent texture while walking across a slightly dewy field wearing short pants on a cloudy morning that will obviously become sunny within a few hours and more importantly is lovely both ways. Maybe it’s that kissing you is wholesome and natural and beyond its own scope, but in fact I don’t even know if it’s a metaphor. It’s just something I thought of and can’t stop thinking of and think it’d be futile to try to rationalize. …
So is it you or not you?[i] Is it you or not you I want?[ii] Is it you or not you I should want?[iii] Is it you or not you that makes me want you?[iv] Is it you or not you that creates these mad tendencies in me?[v] Is it you or not you that will keep me from proceeding normalweise?[vi] Is it you or not you that matters?[vii]…
The problem is the extreme factor. Yes or no questions are inherently simple to answer, yes?[viii] No. If I ask you what you are going to eat today—an open ended question—you could literally give me any answer in the world—grammatically, anyway. There are infinite answers, which creates the illusion of two things:
- That answering will be more difficult.
- That I will get more information from the answer.
But the yes or no question is far more difficult to answer and its answer is more telling. Because even though there are only two possible answers they are as different as two answers can get.
Saying you’re going to eat a sandwich and saying you’re going to eat World War Two’s deciding battle are extremely different answers to my aforementioned question. However they are not opposites. Eating a sandwich and not eating a sandwich are more different—completely opposite—than eating a sandwich and eating World War Two’s deciding battle. (The latter may imply not eating a sandwich, but not necessarily.)
Anyway, I feel like I either have to have you or not have you. Clearly, something about your mouth and your heat and your pants-wearing pants-removing cycle is somehow different than the mouth or heat or pants-wearing pants-removing cycle of anyone else and I don’t know whether to fight it (say no) or whether to have it (say yes) or how to do either and I know there is nothing in between. There is nothing in between! Two opposite poles and an infinite black hole.
The other problem is that having you is kind of not my decision.
Through the course of our togetherness
we did a lot of things.
I consider my life with you to reach far further than the vicinity of time in which we were actually together in any sense. I liked to pretend it ended when it ended, but ‘pretend’ has its obvious connotations, and obeys them here.
Throughout the next period of my life (it is embarrassing to be specific about durations), I wrote you countless letters, poems, rants, notes & rambles, etc., and graffitied them on walls, in bathrooms, on outdoor furniture, playgrounds, dogs…I did this as though it would somehow make a difference:
I like your voice
I only wanted you to want something from me or for me
I AM CRAZIER THAN YOU
Being with you is like being unprepared for a Spanish test I don’t know what to do so I use ambiguous vowel sounds and mumble and think you don’t notice
I mean, I understand but…
What are you trying to do?[ix]
That makes me feel strange
You are warm and
IT DEVOURED ME IN 5 MINUTES; I RESPECT THAT
I keep failing at finding
I’m pretty segura that you’ve missed the point
I don’t need your honesty
I don’t believe you
I want you
I JUST REMEMBERD THAT YOU ARE AMAZinG…
Oh, I’m hungry. Can I come over for dinner?[x]
I’m going home
It was modal. It was auxiliary and love is a pattern. It was a series of patterns and each pattern was built off the pattern before it. You will fuck it up if you are sharp or flat. You will fuck it up.
We together in this world operated well. You were witty and solid and entertaining and rejuvenating and relaxing and fabulous and warm. And you did what I wanted you to do and you made me feel alright despite (anything).
A: I need something I don’t have
B: I must take action on a relatively small scale
C: I must take action on a relatively large scale
D: I am chill
E: I survive
F: I love you
G: There is a significant presence of adventure/challenge in my life to balance lack of sufficient comfort
H: There is a significant presence of comfort in my life to balance lack of sufficient adventure/challenge
I: There are big changes in my life
J: There is constant spontaneity in my life
K: My daily life is inherently challenging
L: I am fiscally secure
M: I have a plethora of time and resources for relaxation and passive fun
N: I have nice furniture
O: I must leave
If I need something I don’t have, I take action; either on a relatively small or relatively large scale. A=>(BvC)
I need to be chill.
If I am not chill, I need to get chill. ~D=>A
If I see a way that I can be chill by repairing or replacing one variable in my life, I will do so. (A=>(B=>D)=>B)
If it is necessary to change many things, I must. (A=>~(B=>D)=>C)
I can be chill if there is a significant presence of adventure/challenge in my life to balance lack of sufficient comfort, or if there is a significant presence of comfort in my life to balance lack of sufficient adventure/challenge. (GvH)=>D
Things that contribute towards such a significant presence of adventure/challenge in my life include big changes, constant spontaneity, and inherent challenge of everyday life.
Things that contribute towards a significant presence of comfort in my life include fiscal security, plethora of time and resources for relaxation and passive fun, and nice furniture.
Darling, life has become nicht so spontaneous! ~J
But we were not fiscally secure, and we had no time or resources for relaxation or passive fun. Our relationship devolved to something devoid of big changes, and the only challenge of my everyday life was to keep up with you. (((~L&~M)&~I)&~K)
And our furniture! ~N
This is not a mild situation. ~(B=>D)
The only way to change any of these factors was to change all of them; I left. E<=>O
I had to. O
I mean, I couldn’t help but want you to be happy or at least informed. I didn’t know how you fared after I left because I was afraid of the pull.
Index of Questions
[i] So is it you or not you?
[ii] Is it you or not you I want?
[iii] Is it you or not you I should want?
[iv] Is it you or not you that makes me want you?
[v] Is it you or not you that creates these mad tendencies in me?
[vi] Is it you or not you that will keep me from proceeding normalweise?
[vii] Is it you or not you that matters? …
[viii] Yes or no questions are inherently simple to answer, yes? …
[ix] What are you trying to do? …
[x] Can I come over for dinner?
© Sara Adams
Sara Adams is a Montessori teacher in Portland, Oregon. “Notes to the Last and Second to Last Lover” is from a novella-in-progress. She recently released Think Like a B (SOd Press), an e-chapbook of poems based on a book by Donald Trump. She has two other forthcoming chapbooks—Poems for Ivan (Porkbelly Press) and Western Diseases (dancing girl press). Her work appears in journals such as DIAGRAM and tNY Press’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature. More info and links at www.kartoshkaaaaa.com.
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