One look at his face and I knew the whole story before it even happened, but that’s not the kind of thing you can just walk up and say to some boy sitting in a coffee shop. What freaked my twenty-one year-old mind was that he felt the same way. When after months of stilted, difficult conversation we finally made the journey from my front porch to my twin bed, he said, “I have dreams about you.” And I knew exactly what he meant because of course I had dreams about him too. Looking back, only a complete dummy or the extremely arrogant would believe that things would just be that easy; that our commingled dreams would simply manifest themselves in our current reality as seamlessly as a bird landing on the tree branch its been thinking about all winter. But that’s not right, either–too cerebral, without allowances made for that mushy-headed side effect of constant, obsessive sex.
Back then I had this little blue plaid jumper that had once been part of someone else’s school uniform. It was a kid’s size 12. Let’s just say that I was always sure to wear nice underwear when I put it on with my black Doc Martens and stepped out into a spring so full of soft-focus life that I was petrified at the thought it would end. Had I been more Bridgitte Bardot than Jean Seberg, some stranger on the street would probably have called me a whore and put a stop to the dress much sooner. As it was, the draft felt good and my man had these big hands that would fit over my butt cheeks like they were baseballs every time I wore it. Plus, I was fairly certain that the world would end at any moment and in that case, I wanted to go out fucking. This certainty became more and more pathological as spring turned into summer. By July, I was as brittle as a cicada husk and the only time I felt safe was when I was snuggled against H’s enormous chest.
But listen, the spring will make anyone crazy. There’s a week every year, right when the city’s tame little treelets break into a wild froth of sperm-smelling white blossoms, that you start seeing dead baby birds on the sidewalk if you’re looking for them. Here’s the gentle sun making filigree of the cement through the flowers, here’s that sweet warm breeze tickling your legs, here’s the whisper-quiet rustling of new promises–oh, and down there? A fluffy little gray and yellow casualty, crushed by its own meager weight after a fall from a tree barely bigger than a grown man. That spring, I felt like the bird and the flowers and the sky as well as myself in a slutty school uniform dress trailing on legs shaky from all this shit behind a man who seemed, with his stooped shoulders and Brothers Grimm plaid, to be the only terra firma I’d ever known. And, well, we all know the one about the bird and the sidewalk.
All this has less to do with love and more to do with the excruciatingly beautiful torture-by-sweetness that is Provence Sante’s Tilleul Eau de Toilette. It’s all right there in the bottle: the dried-honey brittleness of hay, the startling lewdness of a lot of flowers blooming at the same time, the tender wafty kiss of a miniskirt draft, the comfortingly sad promise of the old story being told exactly as it was and exactly how it was always going to be. And thank God I found a new perfume to not wear in honor of my upcoming twenty-seventh birthday, upon which I am giving up tragedy forever.
Illustration from Stories and Fables: Childcraft #2: The How and Why Library. Maaaan, I was raised on this shit and had forgotten about it until just now. The next time I’m in my parents’ house, I’m taking all of them back with me.
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