Photo by the author
By Mia Arias Tsang
Just for a second it all felt simple, I’m already missing it
So I crave, crave to do it again, all again.
To see things through to the end. To muzzle my optimism. To focus on my breath. To take care of myself—to drink more water, to take a multivitamin once in a while. To keep the wave of panic from crashing every time I open a Google Doc. To own my words rather than fear them. To need less from you. To fix my bottom teeth. To read a 600+-page hard fantasy novel. To watch the bleak-branched trees of two, three, four wintergray states speed past the window of a northbound train. To stop cracking in half when I remember how you said, Imagine emotions as a huge wave that’s headed to shore—I’m riding it, but you’re drowning.
To ride the red line across the Charles River under powder-blue October skies. To give you what you want. To fetishize uncertainty; to thrive in the gray areas. To buy your roommate another six pack of Lagunitas as an apology for all the four AM laughter. To stop rereading your text about missing the four AM laughter. To cry in every Cambridge square one last time—Davis, Central, Inman, Harvard—and know it’s the last time. To take you at face value. To claim your throat with purple promises. To stop missing you when you’re right here.
To read your mind. To know the rules. To know when they were about to change on me. To be so infallible as to be blameless. To never give you a reason.
To reread Chloe Caldwell on the E train when my legs itch to be led astray—The long version is: that’s what my entire twenties felt like; Wanting. Yearning. Craving. Constant craving.
To make you into a villain. To make it easier on myself. To keep pretending I don’t understand. To be crueler in Washington Square Park. To take off my sunglasses in Washington Square Park. To force you to confront my pain, to take a little responsibility. To explain that I can’t recategorize you in my heart just because you want to break your woman and have her too, and that this doesn’t make me callous, and that this doesn’t make you irredeemable. To make peace with deflation. To let things die. To leave well enough alone. To tell myself it’s possible you could miss me, too.
To keep the promise I made to myself to never write about you, because you deserve better. To admit I only made this promise because once in bed you admitted you hoped you’d earn an essay and I wanted to deny you something. To admit part of why I write is to punish. To kill this childish revenge fantasy. To find a middle ground.
To internalize the advice a professor gave me five years ago, when I begged her to help me stop writing about my first love: Imagine her as a ghost hovering at the edges of your work. Acknowledge her, thank her, and let her haunt every page.
To have met you after your outline crystallized. To be patient; to save you for later. To give us a fightless chance.
To grab your head between my hands and make you face your stagnation. To take my own advice. To stop wanting to be the reason you set yourself free. To tell you that actually, maybe you need a new therapist.
To sip bourbon gingers at KGB without looking over shoulders for a false memory. To beat my record for how fast I can make you come (three minutes—not bad). To rip the pen from your hand as you wrote us on the wall. To listen to Maggie Rogers and scream when she screams all I ever wanted is to make something FUCKING LAST. To lay in McCarren Park on the first warm day of the year silently smoking in the sun with Morgan; to feel for the first time like I’m ready to stop running from New York. To stop offering my neck to the blade. To accept you were right about my chest feeling lighter without you. To hold back the tears because you could’ve been wrong, if you wanted to be. To kiss you shrouded in steel. To take you like we’re teenagers in the backseat of my Subaru. To lay out on the frozen bank of the Hudson the day after Christmas, my face and coat wide open to the anemic sun while you take me apart with shivering hands, the only sounds the soft crackle and slush of ice sheets scraping across each other, the caws of migratory birds overhead, your breath. To do it again, all again.