Sore point, by Dasha Zagurskaya
New York geared an inscrutable mechanism inside her. Her sleep schedule is reversed and her lifestyle bitterly unhealthy. She falls for complete strangers and accidental acquaintances, and falls very easily. But so does she fall out of… love. In truth, she is not even sure if “love” is the right word or just a part of a common idiom that people misuse when failing to understand their feelings.
This city is full of lonely souls. During rush hours, metro trains almost burst open because of high concentration in solitude. To the point where older men would pay you $40 per hour just for cuddling with them. But in her view, affection has no price tag, unlike those Gucci shoes another freshman unwilling to wait until the sales season begs their sugar daddy for. That’s why those who are seeking for human connection on skillfully advertised dating websites should go another way.
Inhale. Exhale. But pay attention not to get any smoke inside the dorm room. Take a whiff or two and get ready for the masquerade. Fake wide smiles have become a part of the daily routine, so did ibuprofen pills and the emptiness. An inner pulsating void yawns above her liver where the heart used to beat, sucking in emotions like a miniature black hole.
“Would you feel the sadness if society didn’t romanticize it?” she asks herself with insistence, unhurriedly stirring concrete-colored foam in the cappuccino she purchased at the nearest corner Deli. “Just imagine, this feeling isn’t automatically associated with a subtle and elevated nature too peculiar to be understood by the masses. Sadness would then immediately fall from the pedestal we erected for it and lose its appeal.”
Moreover, it is a passive state of mind: we are subjected to sadness, which kills the vital drive that helps us accomplish things. In certain circumstances, it might be easier to throw our hands up and irritatingly spit on the ground: “Screw it, I’m out”. Remaining focused on our goals without giving in to temporary afflictions, on the other hand, requires us to fuel and maintain a conscious effort of the mind.
Assimilate this and every time your wandering inner voice starts mumbling something about the emptiness inside, cut it off without a second thought. Because this emptiness won’t ever go away. The universe is mainly composed of empty space.
The clock reads 9:02 a.m., which means twenty-three minutes of waiting before entering the college building and another five before the beginning of class. Sitting on a bench next to the Washington Square Arch, which must have absorbed dog pee and fierce party-goers’ vomit, she bites into her cuticles with a vacant look on her face. The frosty metropolitan morning wraps its arms around her and whispers: “You are no one”, in her left ear.
Tonight, she is not sleeping in that guy’s room at the end of the fifth-floor hallway. Lately, she has being doing so to create the illusion of being needed but she finally decides to cease taking advantage of fools convinced that they have a chance. Because, anyway, she cannot collect them as if they were Chinese porcelain figurines and make them stay forever. They are human beings moved by egoistic affects. Therefore, upon the realization that they are heading down a blind alley, they will turn around in search for more advantageous and accessible alternatives.
“How am I?” — Good. It is a question with a single answer option, since good is how people in this country always feel.
Is solitude to weep over or rather to embrace? Her career-mindedness doesn’t take away the longing for love. Quite paradoxically, the latter can only be satisfied by giving away a part of herself to other living beings.
However, the feeling taking over her brings comfort, for it is better to be alone than to be with an unpromising partner. How unsettling is it to watch your affection for someone slowly deflate, wither and eventually start decomposing. Especially when a whole garden of your dearly cherished crushes fades in the span of two months. Those could-have-been love stories turned to dust by fault of her childish maximalism. She would make a federal case out of one wrongly placed word, one inappropriate gesture, or one unanswered text. So, after all, what is the point of trying if from the very beginning you know it won’t last?
There was an English Literature major she met online a few months ago who has been dizzyingly sweet and affectionate during the first weeks of their relationship but vanished from sight as soon as the number of assignments he had to deal with in college increased, which shed light on his priorities she wasn’t one of. He still sticks around and requests coffee dates when he has some time to kill. To cross out from the list. It pains her to play the role of some douchebag’s pastime.
On the verge of their break-up, an aspiring DJ one year older than her appeared on the horizon. He bought her coffee and the two of them would stay up passionately babbling about nonsense until the first sun rays painted the sky baby blue. However, the ongoing depression devastated his already fragile ego, leaving behind cheesy jokes and an awkward stooping posture. Now, she persistently misses his calls and repeats to his face how busy she has been.
Later on, to her own surprise, she pulled an impromptu all-nighter with that Los Angeles macho living in the room across from hers. Up until then he seemed arrogant and self-centered. But lack of sleep resulted in a falling level of self-awareness and an arising level of frankness; and for the first time, they were having a conversation instead of throwing retorts at each other. He hated the city, the program he signed up for, the people; he was tired of entertaining others with anecdotes. Each word of his echoed in her own New York experience. The next day, nothing was left of that unverbalized connection. The old obnoxious him was back.
To run away from deceived feelings, she joined an art collective but even there someone eventually caught her eye. He wasn’t remarkably tall or of unprecedented beauty, yet he carried himself with dignity and unconditionally gave money to the homeless. The second time they saw each other at the studio, she leaned away from his greeting hug and made an out-of-place comment about how cold it was outside to avoid any possible uneasiness. Her arising sympathy had to be uprooted by any means.
It’s amusing to return to tinder profiles of people you had met up with in real life and to see that they all updated their description and pictures although they claim their attachment and try to slide a rendezvous into your daily routine.
“What is wrong with monogamy?” She racks her brain over this question for a whole week. She dreads men and their tons of sugar-coated bullshit with a cherry on top; she has a hard time believing in romance and in the whole happy-ever-after formula.
Nonetheless, the English Literature major was so convincing and his voice nearly trembling last Friday when he was saying that he had missed her. It looked like a movie with them in the middle of night lights in agitated uptown. And even though she granted him with a dry “whatever”, his voluptuous nervousness roused in her a hope that someone in this city was able to see past her irreproachable appearances.
She would burst into tears if only she didn’t constantly forget to drink the recommended daily dose of water. Are you familiar with the feeling you get when you restlessly j-walk through the day for the sake of escaping over-thinking? You must be familiar with the feeling you get at parties when you look around the room and decide to leave without notifying the host because you are surrounded by wildly uncharismatic nutshells of individuals filled with cheap alcohol.
Love is a social construct, a beautiful name we gave to a neurochemical reaction in the brain that triggers pleasure feelings and excitement. This is no secret; one can find a detailed account of the science behind attraction in one click of the mouse. And yet, we keep telling ourselves that love is an indispensable component of a healthy life, an ultimate aspiration target and roam the streets calling for it.
Well, every individual believes in what suits them.