It was like the time we were in that coffee shop, the one on the corner of 7th Street. 

It was late December, or maybe January. 

We walked up Avenue A, bundled against the winter. I held your arm, my boots slipping on black sidewalk ice, the cold coming up through the soles of my shoes and my three layers of wool socks, prickling and then numbing my feet until I whispered—f  u  c  k  !—in your ear. Drawing out each letter to emphasize my discomfort, and at the same time the pleasure of this moment. Your ear was red and ice-cold, and my lips probably hovered a little too long, but I was debating whether or not to warm your ear with my mouth. I didn’t, but I wanted to so badly. 

It was after we shed scarves and coats and sweaters, and after we slid into the booth with the green vinyl seats and the speckled Formica tabletop, and after you ordered paprikash and I ordered a salad with the dressing on the side. We talked in spurts and smiled at our jokes, and then we were quiet—the kind of quiet you share when you really know a person, the kind of quiet that is rare and precious and painfully perfect. 


You were relaxed and smooth with no ripples or swells, and I was a stone that skips across the surface and then falls to the silty bottom.

It was then. 

You looked at me and asked what I was thinking, and I didn’t tell you because I couldn’t. I couldn’t because it was so big. I couldn’t because the words would not come. I couldn’t because I knew if I did, I would explode into a million sugar crystals, all sharp and jagged and sweet and small. 

The waitress arrived with plates balanced on her arm and a ballpoint pen behind her ear. Your dinner was piping and hot with wisps of steam that fairly shouted: I am love, I am comfort, I am! My dinner was crisp and cold with all the flavor on the side and did not shout anything except caution and distance. 

I watched the moment slip away, the moment I was about to tell you what I was thinking, the moment I was about to transform. I watched as you ate, and I realized that I could never tell you, because I was afraid of what it meant. 

Instead, I picked up my fork, speared a piece of lettuce and ate it without the dressing.

It was like that.