HOW TO FALL IN LOVE

A listory (part 1)
  1. Admit that eye contact is necessary
    This is in the bar, where we're sitting cornered - both meanings of the word - and for either of us to look at each other it has to be a concerted effort. Purposeful. I go first.
  2. Show that you care
    On your porch, you get a splinter and I pull it out with a pair of nail clippers. I hold onto your wrist a beat longer than I need to. A beat longer than you want me to. I'm wearing your shirt and I suddenly recognize the look you gave me that morning - you were running a cost-benefit analysis when you handed it to me. Knowing when I left you wouldn't see me again. Knowing if I left in a hurry it would be tasteless to ask for the shirt.
  3. Give up
    I leave you alone. I treat my phone like hollandaise sauce, never letting it rest, giving it constant attention. The yolks and the butter separate anyway. I don't know why I'm crying. It's just that I should be able to make this sauce by now.
  4. Set your alarm
    The time between the moment I wake up and the moment I remember you exist gets longer. One day, I realize I've forgotten to remember. By then you remember what you wanted to forget. This is always how it goes.
  5. Learn to breathe underwater
    I say I don't want to hear how busy you were with work. You say you weren't that busy. You say you don't have any good reason, your garden-variety panic attack. You're sorry. I goldfish mouth for a response. This isn't how it usually goes. You tell me you like my haircut. You ask about work. I drink wine until I blurt out, "What are we doing here?" You ask when you can see me and I suddenly have gills again, but I guess you read bubbles because you ask if Friday is good.
  6. Show that you care
    At the beach, I'm lying on my stomach, propped up on my elbows, reading. You spray sunscreen on the small of my back. I swat your hand away. You tell me to enjoy my melanoma. The next day, I'm burned in a thin, red line where my swimsuit bottoms hit the small of my back.
  7. Re-admit eye contact is necessary
    I will not go first this time. I cannot go first this time. We're on your couch. My legs were in your lap but now we're side by side and after we kiss, I keep my eyes cast down, looking at your chin. I realize there's something wrong with them - my eyes. They're leaking. My ocular units are malfunctioning. You ask what's wrong. "Oh, just your garden variety panic attack." You wince. Then you ask me to look up.
  8. Reset your alarm
    Mornings slow down. Tree sap turns to amber. Sometimes you forget to breathe and I tap you at the place where your collarbones meet, that divot that fits my thumb perfectly. You inhale and I go with you.
  9. Give in
    The car tells us the outside temp is close to 100. We need gas and as I take the exit, the sound of the blinker becomes louder than the noise from the freeway behind us. My ears ring in the new quiet. "What if we just don't go to this wedding,"you say. I look at you, tempted. I wonder if something's not quite right but I'm also tired of second guessing. At the gas station, I lean over the hood of the car. "Let's get into some trouble."