The World

It's dark here, and when I say dark, I'm not being metaphoric. I live in Wisconsin now. Every day smells like snow. 

And I don’t belong here, and I never forget it. 

My friends - they belong here. They’re from here, or from nearby, or from places that share DNA with this one. They are sorority girls, midwesterners, people who know how to finish a few beers and then drive home. I have never even been to a college football game. I need them more than they need me. 

So what do I do? I fall in love. Easy love, fast love. Love all over the place. With the wrong people. The wrong person.

He sits next to me in a training session two or three weeks after I start at the job. Comments on my dress, my lipstick, my practiced cursive as I take notes. He invites me camping, invites me to concerts, buys my dinner. He introduces me to everyone else. He has an absent girlfriend. He introduces me to even more friends. Gives me his sweaters without me asking. Comes to my apartment, drunk. Sleeps in my bed, drunk.

It’s not a linear story, and it was a long time ago. The sequence shifts when I remember it. A lot of give and take. A lot of mixed signals. And then one night, watching TV on his couch, he rests his hand palm-up between us. 

I put my hand in his. He pulled away, so I pulled away. I thought that was it.

I wish that had been it.

But his hand was back in mine within minutes. And it stayed there. Late that night, three AM, we walked hand in hand through the dark Madison streets. We sat on a park bench outside of a pediatric psychiatric clinic and watched a thunderstorm roll in. We made a joke about how it was like a stupid scene from a John Green novel. And then we kissed. Really. 

If you take a freeze frame, then this is a very good place. It will only get worse from here. Remember the girlfriend? Remember all the other friends? If you want out, go ahead. This is a chance to [take the other path][Little Baby Bitch Mode].

I remembered the girlfriend. I drew one line in the sand. Just one. I told him, no sex until the girlfriend is out of the picture. 

But I am not from here. [I don’t know how this world works][Animal].