tatiana ryckman /I DIDNT KNOW YOU

Image by Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn.

I Didn’t Know You

Some days I wouldn’t shower because you were not coming over that month, and my actions felt meaningless if you weren’t going to witness them. Such joy was uncalled for.
You had not called in two weeks.
Which is not to say I didn’t know you were busy, or that I should shower anyway, just that I was lazy and your absence was an excuse when nothing else was.
Some call it depression.

What is the antonym for proximity? You were usually there.
Which is not to say you were not near but that you were a-proximate.
Your relationship to everything around me grew hazy and indistinct. If I wanted to put you in my mouth I wouldn’t have known when to begin. If I had wanted to fit my palm around the mug you own with your own face on it, I wouldn’t have known where to go.

At a given moment after weeks apart I realized we could be having sex at that same moment the following day. This realization was pleasant and I touched myself and as I came I could not imagine the point of ascetism. It was not my body that grew over with disuse, but the fantasies that were obscured with the jungle of quotidian motion. It was your turned head that faded when I watched too closely, your lips disappearing from my wrist.
There were, of course, logistical problems.
They were historically the continent between us.

You started to make promises. A hotel room.
Two visits before the summer’s end.

I wanted to believe you would come, and I followed the pipedream of your possible visit as far as it would take me.
I said to a version of you I kept in my mind:
Let’s assume you do come. Let’s assume we find a motel 8 in a suburb I’ve never been to. A place where I can’t show you where to get matzo ball soup or that museum I texted you from when I was feeling mean about all the art. Let’s assume we have a six pack and a limited number of TV channels and the blankets are itchy and the windows don’t open because hotel windows don’t open anymore? Let’s assume these are our surroundings and nothing is walking distance, that is, we can see things from the second story railing that wraps around the motel, but we cannot walk to the places we see because they are on the other side of a highway. We could drive but we already have the six pack, and we are unmotivated. So we turn back to the room. You smoke a cigarette in the doorway. I am surprised again that you smoke cigarettes. I am jealous of the cigarette. I want to be in your mouth, and then maybe I will be, and then maybe you will have my hair in your fist and I will be thinking about tangles and how I should not be thinking about my hair, I should be thinking about the fist it is clutched in. I should be looking at your throat and getting turned on by the four hairs you missed while shaving, but I will be distracted by them. Then I will get on top and come and fall asleep and then it will be morning, and I will have to leave.

Or, let’s assume you don’t come.
Either you would send illicit photographs or I would make an educated guess. Is that the same thing as a hypothesis? Can one hold two hypotheses at the same time? Is that called choose your own adventure, or just crazy?
I was guessing that the outcome would be equal in any direction.
It’d just be the same shit.

Tatiana Ryckman is the author of two chapbooks of prose, Twenty-Something, and VHS and Why it’s Hard to Live. She is Assistant Editor at sunnyoutisde press and her work as been published with Tin House, Entropy, Barrelhouse, Hobart, and others. More at Tatianaryckman.com.