when we can drink 16 oz beers and argue about who will be the first of us to have kids— it won’t be me, not in a million years, fuck kids— and borrow shirts and paint our nails and wake up in our clothes and dump more ice in our coffee. when i can lie on a roof all night and try to figure out where all those planes are landing and sleep somewhere unfamiliar and wake up drenched in sweat next to a kitten and put my dirty hair in a braid and slip my shoes back on and walk two blocks to the first coffee shop my iphone recommends. when i can run into my friend who is now the manager there and he asks if i want a job and we talk about coffee shops and opening one up and new york and california and mutual friends and remembering that in relationships everyone was ok for 25 years before you came along and everyone will be ok again. when i can wave goodbye because it’s too sticky to hug and take my black iced coffee and walk outside and the bus pulls up immediately and i sit under the air conditioning next to two old women with walkers and i listen to them laugh but i can’t understand what they’re laughing about. when i can watch all the different parts of brooklyn pass by, parts that used to seem so far from one another but now i understand how they all connect, how i could walk through them if i wanted to, from carroll gardens to gowanus to park slope to prospect heights to crown heights to clinton hill to bedstuy to bushwick to williamsburg to greenpoint. this is when i fall in love with the city. and that thing didion said about how it was always just going to be one more month here, that’s true, we do measure time in terms of leases. but these are the times i’m going to tell my kids about— not high school, not prom, not when i gave up and moved back to LA and got a real job— i’ll tell them about what it feels like to peel your thighs off the seat of the bus and how when you have good friends they let you sleep on their couches forever and they taste your tequila gimlet to see if you used enough lime. that’s what i’ll tell my kids when i inevitably have kids first.
My arch nemesis, my best friend, she had long smooth legs. She told me once, in her bedroom, sitting on the carpet, how she shaved them. Dry. Not in the shower. First up against the grain, then once down. I tried it and got cuts all over. My skin itched for days and I was at the beach that week and saltwater seeped into every tiny wound and then my legs turned bright red. My dad asked if I was ok. Yeah, I guess, it must have been the rocks. The ocean rocks hitting my legs.
I knew my legs would never be as smooth as hers, because I just didn’t know how to do things right, so I kept watching movies and watching the pretty girls to see how to behave. Maybe most of them just didn’t have that much leg hair, and maybe they knew how to put their tongues into guys mouths and could tell the difference between a circumcised and an uncircumcised penis without seeing two next to each other for a contrast and compare. The girls with the naturally straight hair, the ones who’d put Sun-In in their already blonde hair and sit outside in lawn chairs and flirt with guys in the aisles of grocery stores and didn’t tumble out of their flip-flops, they were born with this information programmed in, like how dogs know to kick up grass over their shit.
I knew from movies that guys liked girls who “called them on their bullshit” and ones who liked sports in a casual way. I knew from life that guys liked girls who put out and played truth or dare and stole Bud Lite from parents’ fridges and wore mismatched bikinis they borrowed at pool parties. I knew that guys didn’t like girls who wore their brother’s old t-shirts and who didn’t go into the pool at pool parties and who didn’t even own a bathing suit and who didn’t get sports and who had never had a sip of beer and who just made fun of everyone, as a defense.
But once a guy with a lazy eye wanted to kiss me. He was older than me, in college, and had a girlfriend. I told him I wasn’t going to kiss him, but he pulled up outside my house in a truck and I was only 15 and I let him kiss me through the open window. I think it was the first time I tugged at someone’s collar like I had seen in movies. I didn’t have to know what to do with my tongue because he took care of it, and I guess he liked my shirts and he’d never seen my pool party etiquette and he was too old for truth or dare. And as he drove away, at my mom’s house, lingering in the middle of a quiet street on a school night, my life seemed infinite and full of possibility. I could kiss a college guy in the road, I could do anything.