"In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." Mine turns to stalking my old boyfriend. For the past seven or eight years, I kept contacting Tony in the hopes that his thoughts had turned to me, or at the least, that his girlfriend had died. (All right, painlessly.) I've been besotted with Tony since I was 19. He was smart and funny, passionate, committed, brave and strong, and he had broken up with me before I had the chance to learn otherwise.
We met back in the spring of 1974 as I walked down 8th Street with my sister toward the nightly bacchanal that was Washington Square Park. He was handing out leaflets about an imprisoned anarchist and looked dreamy in his Greek fisherman's hat and army jacket. I don't remember how it all happened, but by the time he shrugged his backpack onto his shoulder and walked us back to the subway, he was my boyfriend. That's how things were back then — sordid yet magical.
I also don't remember exactly how long we stayed together, but I do recall it was fast and furious. Our brief romance was set against the bleak backdrop of the East Village, which in 1974 was like East Berlin without the shopping. Tony was very intense and very romantic. He stayed up at night to watch me sleep and spent his last few pennies on a fresh zeppoli for me, as much to keep my hands warm as to stave off hunger. And though we had sex almost constantly, in my memories we were sweet and innocent. Picture Hannah and Adam on “Girls,” only in a cold-water flat one block off the Bowery.
Over the years, Tony would answer my emails and we’d occasionally talk on the phone. I knew (and didn't care) he had a girlfriend; each year, as spring turned into summer, the barometric pressure settled down and so did I. But something happened this time around, something changed for him. After a few of my subtle yet carnivorously pornographic emails, he said that he was coming east, either in spring or perhaps during summer. I swooned, visions of romance and restraining orders dancing before my eyes.
Then I thought, Wait a minute ... THIS summer? Shit! In a nanosecond, I calculated how many glasses of stinking kale juice I would have to drink and how many squats I'd have to squat. But the main thing I fretted about was — where was I going to find my libido? Smutty emails notwithstanding, I had as much interest in sex as I did in Civil War reenactments. Don't get me wrong, most days I felt like getting down on my knees and thanking my maker for delivering me from that particular area of endeavor, but this was Moby Tony: my white whale of love.
I couldn't get him out of my head. I couldn't read before bed at night because I was too busy wondering how he likes his eggs. Should I break down and get linen sheets? I almost hit “send” on emails that began, “When we get married, can we have a little dog and name him Laughing Gravy?” I asked people in the office if my hair looks better up or down and I ordered, if not read, all the books on his Facebook page (some of which, just between us, kind of stink).
Because he's in Oregon, I imagine that he's used to softly pleasant vegan women who have dreamcatchers in the window and make their own margarine and have like, interests in things. The closest I’ve ever come to being softly pleasant were the few times I was under anesthesia (and believe me, you didn’t want to be around when I woke up). As for being a vegan and dreamcatchers, ew and ew.
But even I can fake it long enough for things to … end catastrophically. I had a boyfriend once who lied about his height, and I believed him, so I know that at least in my mind, anything is possible. More likely than any romantic, operatic ending we'll probably wind up in a motel room together, eating Doritos and playing Boggle. Maybe we'll hold hands for a while, and you know what? That would be just fine.