Sonia Ruiz

Love used to seep out of my every orifice. It flowed from my eyes, nose, ears and sweat glands, covering my whole world in the thick gold soup of a Klimt painting. And then one day it stopped. The hot gold that had at times oozed and at times gushed from me began to cool. There was so much of it drenching my world that I barely noticed as it cooled, but surely enough it began to harden on the facades of Old Campus dorms, on the grass of Cross Campus and on the brick roads that encircled my home until everything in my worlds was rigid and inflexible. The love I had once poured forth no longer shaped the world I lived in — it boxed me in.

The love began to flow on my FOOT trip. The parts of me I had so long ignored, those organs that must generate the chemicals of love were jolted into action in the newness of the space. A space filled with people who would accept me and respect me, people for whom I could finally pour out love. We hopped across streams on rocks, slept under mottled sunlight while some of us questioned, “Are we queers the mistakes made by this powerful nature?” and others listened.

And this same love stopped because of you.

Love. You didn’t love me when you invited me into a bathroom stall in Osborn Memorial Laboratories and pulled out your penis. Love. You didn’t love me when you turned off the lights and had me hide from your suitemates. Love. You didn’t love me when you Snapchatted me jokes about sucking your dick. Love. You didn’t love me when you said, “I wonder what my suitemates would say if they saw us, two brown boys in bed.” Love. You didn’t love me when you told me I was acting like a middle schooler because I had told someone about us. Love. You didn’t love me when you asked if I was a bottom. Love. You never loved me; you only ever said “I love your ass.”

You never loved me, especially not when you said, “I don’t think I can love you. I don’t think I can really love anyone.”

Love. I loved you when I emailed you because you wouldn’t respond to my texts. Love. I loved you when I wanted to sit with you but you couldn’t (because you were “too horny”). Love. I loved you when I told you to wash your hands after you touched your penis in Osborne Memorial Labs. Love. I loved you when I read the wikiHow page for “How do you know if you’re lovesick.” Love. I loved you even after you said you once didn’t use soap for a month. Love. I loved you when you pretended to be hurt by my mean jests. Love. I loved you when we, during a game like chicken, squatted low and made intense eye contact. Love. I loved you a just-like-friends-amount three weeks after we stopped seeing each other and I ran into you on Old Campus.

I really loved you (foolishly, I must admit) when my first-year self briefly imagined us on our wedding day and your hair was still messy.

Love poured from me like a tidal wave after you told me you couldn’t love me. It poured out onto my new blue rug in my still-new first-year dorm. It poured out in the way I wanted to cry for all eternity. It poured out in the conversations I had with friends. It had poured out on you so quickly like an avalanche I had never learned to control. And yet I always produced enough for it to pour. My love-making organs were content to do their work.

And yet it was because of you they became tired, confused. Not because you didn’t just not love me back but because you didn’t care for me at all. No matter how much I could give to you, it would never satisfy what you didn’t have for me. “Can we just be friends?” I had once asked.

“You don’t just make friends by asking someone to be friends with them. That’s not how it works,” you said. The best apology you ever gave me was “I’m sorry you felt like shit.” Someone else had to point out that you didn’t actually apologize for your actions.

And confused by this discrepancy, between the ways we felt toward one another, I began to malfunction, producing less love each day than I had during the day before. Without the constant influx, my world began to harden with facades of gold, of what had once been.

Sometimes when it’s hot enough, the sun melts some gold, and the facades shimmer with the love that’s been heated back to life. In these moments I remember how different my world had been and how bland it had been before I began to love. Nowadays, I do not know what my lovemaking organs are doing. They are working away at some new secret project still under construction. Maybe they are pulling your grease out of their gears, or reconfiguring so that I love a more manageable amount. Maybe they will produce heat so that my gold-plated world becomes dynamic again, or maybe they are planning a vacation to the far reaches of my imagination, complete with virgin pina coladas and that good surf.

And yet the center of my world and love has never been you. This is not a letter to you. It is about the story of my love, and you happened to play a role in that story. It could never be about you — you drowned in that sea of gold soup the minute I began to love you.

Frankie | frankiegallistal@gmail.com