Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author of two memoirs and three novels, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies. Her latest title, The Freezer Door, launched in the United States to rave reviews in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and has just been released in Australia. Order from Booktopia or your favorite independent bookstore.

The feeling of saying I love you to someone for the first time in a way that means comfort, and is this hope or help or helplessness? I’m just so sick of friendships that get stuck somewhere between mutual expressions of commitment, and the other person’s next relationship. What does it mean to love when this is all it means?

Adrian and I walk into the bar, and while he’s ordering a drink the hottest guy there waves me over—he says how come I don’t know you, do I know you, let me add you on Facebook. He’s touching me already, complimenting my sweater. He says it reminds him of someone’s sofa. Of course he’s on a date.

I’m stuck between losing the hope for connection in the places and spaces I used to believe in, and wondering how to find that connection in the spaces I will never believe in. Going into worlds I already know are corrupt, in order to find what isn’t. A body without politic, or a politic without a body, this is not a choice I want to make. Some people invoke the search for pleasure as pleasure in the search. But how is there pleasure if there’s no pleasure?

Knowing you will never escape, and then you do, but does your body ever really figure this out? Thunder is an understatement—it’s the sky meeting the earth, and somehow everything’s more alive. Maybe not everything, but everything you can feel. Sometimes it’s hard to write when you’re in the moment. Because you’re in the moment. I wanted to tell you about walking into the bar—when was it? Almost two weeks ago. Was that the last time? It feels like it’s been too long.

 Confession: sometimes I write in present tense, but I’m not actually there. I mean now Adrian and I go to the bar together—the second time I went there, or the second time I went there, but not just for the photo booth, Adrian spotted me, and said: Mattilda, what are you doing at Pony? He’d been to my book launches over the years, and he reached out when I moved to Seattle, and we exchanged numbers, but that was on Facebook, and I hate Facebook, so when Adrian didn’t call I didn’t call him. But then when I ran into him at Pony, he said if you ever need someone to go out with—and so now that’s what we do. We walk through Cal Anderson on the way there, so I can lean against trees to even out my body, and stretch on the jungle gym. It’s one way to appreciate the rain.

Sometimes when Adrian starts to get drunk, she asks me to point out everyone in the bar who I would go home with, and I kind of like playing this game because no one’s ever asked me to play before. Or maybe they did, but I thought it was tired. I mean it is tired, but we’re at a gay bar—there’s no way to avoid tired. I wonder whether Adrian’s flirting with me, and I wonder whether I’m flirting with him, and maybe this is part of the game.

Then Evan walks in, and he’s grabbing me all over. He’s the one I told Adrian I would do anything for, and I can tell we could go home together if I stay, but I can’t stay because it’s getting too late. If I stay too late then I won’t be able to sleep, and then my life will be over. Of course I’m that fragile. What happens to the moment, if you’re not in the moment?

The feeling of not being able to exist without not really existing. I can go outside, and hope the air will clear my head, but then there’s my head again, without air. What does it mean to open? I refuse to allow any flower analogies. By refusing to allow them, I allow them.

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