The Glamour of Romantic Longing
Neurotic Dope is a monthly column.
By Joshua Byron
I recently broke my few weeks of not dating anyone by dating my best friend's brother. I always told myself I would never do that, and then, like grabbing a lavender velour you NEED, I took it. Without thinking. Of course, it didn’t go as planned. But there was no planned anyway.
We had an incredible romantic beginning, from the banging clubs of House of Yes to the intimate walk after seeing the new Emma Sulkowicz show in Brooklyn. I admit this makes me sound much more glamorous than I am. I admit, I am more glamorous than I let myself believe. My life is not, by any means, a death march. But I am a strictly regimented person. A Blair Waldorf. So when I found myself picking at the scab of a friend's brother, I wondered if it was worth it.
I knew I had a tendency to burn brighter, faster. Sag rising, Leo moon. He was cute, funny, and communicative. Something rare among many. And kind. We just kept hanging out, from picking out charms for each other to putting glitter in his hair to talking about my Tinder usage. It quickly felt tinged with romance.
One day, realizing I had kept his resume in my bag, we went on an accidental outing in Williamsburg. As I chatted with my friends and gossiped by the East River, I realized I liked him. I realized, too, I hadn’t let myself feel that for someone in a while. Not since this one guy on Halloween. And even then maybe it was the mood lighting. Maybe it was the dancing. The kiss in the moment of Charli XCX. We watched A Wrinkle In Time.
I asked him on a date over text later that night. I waited a half hour and then got a “Yes let’s do it !” I felt enthusiastic. All of the basic giddy emotions.
An anxious week followed where I met all of his friends over again, or at least a few, while his sister was in Guadalupe. I worried, I fretted, I worried about anything but the date. It was easier.
Our first date, however, was less than giddy. I was anxious. On the day of the date, I went to the MET for a few hours killing time after texting, “I’ll be at the Met, let me know when you’re free." As 6 o’clock came, I was anxiously leg-shaking over an Americano on 82nd. My friend told me to just text him, so I did, and we promptly met at Union Square yet again in order to go to vegan dim sum.
At first, it seemed great. “I saved my whole Friday for you.” But as we sat down, I realized we were talking in vague generalities. He was exhausted. He was not in any place for romance, and when I asked why he said yes, he said “why not?”
We went home separately. A few weeks later, I walked past the restaurant and sent a picture. He responded: “lol yeah that’s the place.” I don’t blame him. I don’t blame anyone. It was nice to feel something nice again anyway.
Later that month, I got that email. The one you get when you write about someone. I remembered that even as I am hurt, I may be a dope too. And even when others don’t take that upon themselves to sort through, I do easily give to sorting this mess of a life through. It is easy for me to be blown. A Virgo untethered from reality. I am easily confused and worried and startled. In person, online, in emotions.
If success is having fun, I’m still not there. I can’t let go. I don’t know how. And sometimes the internet seems to muddle those waters. It is hard to feel safe. It is hard to feel valued. It is hard to feel wondrous when tied to your phone. I know this makes me a Luddite.
The email actually came while I was at a screening of my video work in Philadelphia. I’ve been traveling lately, meeting all sorts of new folks. I’ve met many poets and artists and writers and students and musicians and DJs. In New Haven, I met teachers and screen printers. One woman knew one of the actors in my video work. I feel larger than I was before and yet still too small. Whose pond is this? Sitting in naked ambition, I realize I need more fun in my life. Who is having fun around here?
I listen to “Amelia” by Joni Mitchell over and over, like a talisman. I am warding off alarm clocks. The feeling of racing through life. The feeling of racing at all. The light tracing of guitar strings plucked and strummed into a reaping rhythm. I am in the desert, alone. Somehow, one does not feel close to Joni when listening to her music. Only that we are one with her. We are her. We are alone in the desert.
The ego in me is desperate to be loved. I think I did not realize how the strands were connected, the veil was down, the band was still playing. But as the curtain descended and few were left, I realized: the art, the dating, the writing, the friendships. I want to be loved. I want to wake up with my brittle bones hugged. A hug that cracks my tiny skeleton into a thousand soft pieces.
Joshua Byron is a nonbinary storyteller based in Bushwick. They have produced over nineteen film works including, most recently, Idle Cosmopolitan. Their films have screened at Sarah Lawrence, Bennington, Indiana University, the Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Life Hack, the Wrong Biennial, and Forge Mag Presents. Their writing has appeared in Glo Worm Press, Bushwick Daily, Water Soup Press, and The Body Is Not An Apology. They love Oprah, rose soap, and melodramas.