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Dating in 2020: A New Mode

A poem by Jasmine Ledesma

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Finally, July has arrived in her usual glazed tongue, honeybee, dreamy warmth way. Every lawn is made of green, untouched beds of silk. The sun hangs around for longer each day and has to be driven off by the moon each night. After a sensitive, strange, and frightening spring, how lovely it is to feel the heat burning through my curtains each morning - to hear the chorus of lovebugs in my ear, humming delightful tunes. My neighbors and I make eye contact from across the street and wave. I put on my baby blue face mask.

It is the season of hesitancy.

As reports of the results of reopening businesses vary and develop, we walk on thin glass that could crack and splinter at any moment. It’s impossible to know what exactly will happen, and difficult to carry the weight of that unknown. Everything is up in the air and nobody can say when it will all come back down.

America’s rose-colored glasses have broken in half in her back pocket and now she can see where all of her veins crisscross one another - how delicate she is. The world seems to reflect that realization as well. It is as if we are all seeing each other clearly for the first time.

Connection used to be instant. An act of what some would call magic. There would be no actual effort involved because there didn’t need to be. We could hop onto a dating app and shuffle through people until we found somebody we wanted to talk to. Then, we’d talk. The conversation would happen beneath the assumption that there was an interest involved, even if there was none. Dating was the goal and both parties knew this. We could beckon from our couch thrones as often as we pleased. There was no filter or net to fall into. There was only us, whoever we chose, and an urgent clock between us. We would either meet up or we would keep looking. A connection was demanded. The sentiment was dead.

We took immediacy for granted.

We have, through rapidly progressing technology and general standards of living, cultivated and are dictated by a fast-paced, chain-smoking society that wants the most at all possible times. We are raised to be terrified of slowing down, and even more afraid of being alone. Some of us throw ourselves into our goals, gulping down success until it doesn’t feel as though we are doing anything - but we need it. This same desperation has bled over to how we consider relationships. We want to be wanted; it’s why our media is full of love happening at first sight without a second thought.

We want, more than anything, to be consumed, to be busy with somebody else. Perhaps it is, in a way, best that we’ve had a break from that chaos. Our greed has been brought to a federally mandated halt.

Last year, the summer was spent filling and combing whatever spare inches of the beach there were leftover, crushing ourselves against each other in so many different ways it was creative whilst borrowing cherry-flavored lip gloss from a stranger. This summer, we can take our time. We can spend our days basking in ourselves, our thoughts clapping gently against each other instead of racing. There is no rush. We can lay everything out, all of our goals and ambitions, and have these exist solely on their own, without any outside influence. We can ask ourselves, what do I want? And we can wait for the answer to come to us like a gift.

Love is a machine. We can take this time to care for it.

I find myself having more efficiently, better-structured convos now. They leave more of an impact than they did before. I have realized to treasure and tend to aspects of people that would have otherwise been ignored. When I talk to others, it is as if every word was handpicked from a bush as if the person took the time to consider, would she like this? And, what do I mean?

I spend hours thinking about that - what my intentions are, what they look like. I’ve found that I am selfish if left to my own devices. I want to make the cake pretty and I want to eat all of it. However, I’m not alone in this, and being aware of an instinct means you have the power to change. I’ve been trying.

I draw wings on my eyes and wear fur coats around the house to impress myself. I wear my heart-shaped sunglasses when I use the restroom and take them off to walk my dogs so I can look everybody in their eyes. The rattle of my washing machine is my favorite song. I prepare to video chat as one would a party. I spend hours talking about the mechanics of poetry and whatever video went viral yesterday. I don’t try to guess what the other person is thinking, I just listen to what comes out of their mouth.

I miss touch. I miss being in the obvious throes of touch: a fluttering kiss before getting back on the subway, hand-holding between avenues and talk, beautiful hugs from all of my friends, braiding someone else’s hair. I miss the subtle touches, too. The deli cashier who smells of fried peanuts, placing pennies into the pool of my palm, grazing someone’s hand as we hold ourselves up against the thrust of the bus, passing papers around in class.

But I’d rather wait for touch, let it come towards me slowly so I can experience it wholeheartedly.

When we can say with full confidence that our safety is guaranteed, and that may not be as close as we’d like it to be, I’ll be waiting. My hands will buzz with longing. My hair will have grown to my hips. The streets will leak with everybody: excitable teenagers, psychopathic businessmen, iced coffee makers, couples still wet with love, leaping puppies, and you.

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