A month ago I was in Auckland; I remember the fold of us in the airport. I had helped a woman carry an inexplicable number of bags from the plane into customs, delivered her and her luggage to the queues and walked the corridor to arrivals. I began to scan the crowd but he was right there, closest to me, and I made an abrupt, startled sound like a sick cat. We threaded into each other and my heart was going bupbupbupbupbupbupbupbup and we could feel it through our jackets. I was embarrassed, like, heart, be cool. Then in the hotel above the city lights we coated our skin with wine and desecrated all the holy things. And after we had remembered each other fully we explored the city and the harbours and the hill and things were IRL again.
A few days later we drove down the Desert Road at night, blinded by high beams, and rested in a house on a wild, rugged coast. Sometimes when I looked at him driving I expected him to disappear like an expired snap, expected to blink and bip! he’d be gone, and I’d have to grab the wheel as reality fell in on itself. We arrived after a week of storms and there were trees strewn all down the beach, their networks of roots exposed and apocalyptic and sinking into sand where they washed up with the tide. People had erected structures out of the driftwood, built strange altars and casting circles and I chanted silent invocations.
I think our minds need a thing to exist for a certain amount of time before we are really certain the thing is real. Like, at any moment this could all have been an extended train of thought, a misremembering of the last six months, distracted in the fervor of all this romance. Patterns need to establish, a mathematical congruence that makes you convinced—of course, this obviously exists.
Sometime in the week that I wasn’t looking at my phone our snap streak broke. The app’s clock ticked over and the number clicked back to zero, unobserved, while we concerned ourselves with the jigsaw fit of our real lives and body parts. Quietly, a thousand secrets scattered on their own.
In Melbourne, after he went away again, after we had Tetrised my things into his house and I neglected to change my address, again, I thought I would try to outsmart my brain. I thought I could alter my perception of time and it would be very easy. I employed certain accelerating techniques. I traded in distance, like, if I’m in a different position in space-time, then—relatively speaking—everything can be sped up.
Things continued in a bad way, though not immediately bad, more of a creeping, accumulating bad. After dinner at a pasta restaurant with a friend who flirted in Spanish with our waiter, after all that wine, I failed to sleep for the third night in a row.
On the train the next morning, wretched and sick, I googled ‘long distance relationship’ and found an article on Psychology Today. It told me that I had done everything wrong. You idiot, it said, way to do it like completely fucking backwards. A lot of it was about conceptualising yourselves ‘as a team’ and to not do destructive things that impose unnecessary emotional isolation. (You can’t outrun your brain. It’s smarter than you are. It’s literally a brain.) So I took note of the advice on Psychology Today and put away the weird maths spells.
Now I’ve started writing poems on my phone by pressing the centre option in predictive text. There’s a lot of dirty and yearning-type words mostly, a lot of remnants of sex and stories and other totally banal stuff. The poems end up circular and nonsensical, recalling cold-fingered typos, and obsessing over phrases like a mind scratched and stuck on a particular moment.
I love that panda the n d o nf I love that panda I love that you can see the skyscrapers around the walled city and I love you so much for the n d o nf I love you so much for the n d o nf I love you so much for n d o nf I love that panda the n d o nf and I love that you can see the skyscrapers around the walled city.
Jessica Alice is a poet and editor. Her writing and reviews have been published in The Guardian Australia, Metro Magazine, Overland, Junkee, VICE, The Lifted Brow, Spook Magazine, and Cordite Poetry Review, among others. She tweets @jessica_alice_.