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On Skinny Loves: "Monolith"

noun 1. a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument.

By Erin LucasPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
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"Monolith"

...

What am I supposed to do with this?

How long will it sit there,

Staring at me,

Silently taunting me?

A monolith to my ineptitude.

It whispers --

"You are not enough" --

As I pass through the room.

I try not to make eye contact.

A giant protest sign in my peripheral --

"You're missing what I want."

A remnant of lies to impress --

"I want to be with you."

...

I stood there, sobbing to the sounds of “Skinny Love,” and I knew I had to get my shit together. I had a date coming...

I "came to" the next afternoon and realized: there, hanging like a mockery to objectivity was his sweater. He brought/wore it because it was September in Oklahoma. You could have all four seasons in a day; he was prepared. Looming gawdamn presence. That’s what it would become. I text him to let him know that the grey Gap sweater, purchased at a thrift store of course, was lingering in my domestic space. He didn’t write back. I decided it was best to take it off the kitchen table. So, I hid it under the tabletop on the lap of a chair passed down from my grandmother. I don’t think this is the kind of dinner scene she hoped for when making the decision to give me the dining set. The thin, pilling, wool knit needed to be out of sight. Every time it peeked into my peripheral, I had flashbacks of events from the evening before. A minor glimpse of the garment triggered physical reactions - nauseated waves and butterfly flitting intestinal disruptions - like a lustful PTSD episode.

We had our first "date" the night before. I mock the word date with quotations because all the plans for the evening were ditched, completely. The orphaning of evening goals happened within an hour or so, because we were completely comfortable with one another and wrapped up in conversation. Before we knew it, three hours passed. We decided to stay at my place and continued drinking and talking. He played music on a saw and showed me how to make pretty sounds from bent steel and a cello bow. We discussed all the things we have in common: white guilt, aesthetics, wandering souls, being woke-ass feminists, books we love, and so on. As the hours did what hours do when you’re too engulfed in the living of life to notice them pass, we grew instinctually closer, both in proximity and spirit. The evening turned into a night of seemingly mutual attraction and appreciation. I looked at the clock. It’s four a.m. We decided he should stay the night. We began reading poetry to one another (ugh, upon his prompting). We moved to the bed and proceeded with our open mic night as we intermittently made-out with the vigor of high school drama kids falling in love. It was like a scene from a John Hughes movie: fucking ridiculous and innocently erotic.

My mind mirrored the events back to me as the void in time from send to received left me feeling like a vulnerable landlord. He finally wrote back with a joke. Avoidance at best. I should’ve known then, but I ignored the instinct in favor of the attention. He brushed off the discovery of his remnants like a KGB agent avoiding answers to a “How did this bug get here?” interrogation. Soon enough we met again. Chance to have the monolith removed. Chance removal ignored, by both parties. The sweater morphed into a form of leverage for us. It was surrounded by - it was a symbol of - quotes and memories had, when we were better people. A monument to the eternal citizens of “the night before.” It was reclaimed eventually, anti-climatically. However, the template was laid. This malleable monolith grew, anthropomorphized, assimilated into my being and became the mascot for our relationship, our skinny love.

The pattern that became my relationship with him consisted of a "series" of monoliths. He would come over. He would say things about futures with me and past lives he’s sure we shared. I would reciprocate, but always participated with a two-fold trepidation: 1) Is this all a bunch of bullshit?, and, 2) I am not ready for the things he makes me feel. He would stay the night. We would continue our high-school-drama-kid-love-affair. I would come out of my “him” coma and discover a beanie, a jacket, a set of markers, and the rest. I would send a photo, and there would be a deafening chasm of silence as I waited for his response amidst muted screams of the eventually reclaimed monoliths. All the while, I continued to break into ugly cries when I would hear “Skinny Love.”

In case you aren’t familiar, "Skinny Love" is a song by Bon Iver, and the phrase refers to a love that isn’t nourished. I initially thought my visceral reaction was a response to my feelings about the long term relationship I emerged from not long before. While I began reflecting on the relationship that this poem is about, I thought it was the vulnerability, my lack of having it, and his lack of caring for it that brought me to the doorstep of uncontrollable sobs. However, I now realize all of these interpretations of my feelings, of skinny loves, were incorrect.

I am able to finally understand the reason I would break into tears at the song. I had become my own skinny love. I thought my tears before the date were a result of my recovery from the previous years ending abruptly and without closure. I thought the reason I wept was a result of these monoliths, these remnants of memories set in stone, stones that change your landscape.

When I began my mindful reflection about the guilt and shame surrounding the voids between texts, the voids between souls, my nourishment void was realized. I realized that “It’s not you, it’s me.” I realized why my twofold trepidation exists. I realized that when I hear lyrics like, “Come on skinny love just last the year," the welling tears are an overpour of my fear that I may not make it out of this year of reclamation, of breaking free from the last nine.

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About the Creator

Erin Lucas

she/her

Multimedia Creator, Writer, Educator, Nonprofit Organizer

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