• juliadestefano

Originally published on Medium, August 2021

Amusement Miles

“Take me to the water,” I whisper.

My Amusement Mile,

Coney Island of your mind

where eyes become hands.

Once, they called it the Pleasure Wheel

and I believe it, too.

A strong man.

Provider of a heavenly ascent.

But first, the Zipper.

The Sea Dragon gaining speed with each cycle.

Coming up against one another

like bumper car enthusiasts

in a thrilling rollercoaster ride

through the Tunnel of Love.

Hearts in a tilt-a-whirl.

Minds in a Scrambler.

An intense force to propel us into the next state.

Sharing the extreme urge to hold on tight.

Because it’s a fun world, after all

with a woman who straddles the realms

of kitten and lioness like a carousel horse,

and loves with the strength of a high-striker bell.

She knows she is the World’s Fair.

Every inch of her

an achievement worth crowning.

Around each corner,

a prize to be won no matter the angle.

Refreshments endless

as she bursts into colors like fireworks.

© Julia R. DeStefano

  • juliadestefano

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

Hey you. It is March 26th, and I’m having my typical breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. I can feel you shudder through the screen. I know you don’t like oatmeal. I’m watching a squirrel play against the backdrop of the neighbors’ fresh new siding. I've hung a new shelf, myself. Why I hung a shelf if I am planning to move, I’ll never know. Maybe I've finally accepted that I’ll never have another work office. Maybe I just needed a place to put some things. It’s in the Writing Room. I’d like to show it to you sometime. Then again, there are a lot of things I’d like to show you. I wish you would shock me by letting me. No, "shock" isn't the word. "Surprise" is the word. I wish you would surprise me by showing up in front of the house with your little car, or calling me out of the blue to say you were thinking of me. You see - this is what women want. To feel special. I know you know how to do this. You have done it for me before, really made me feel loved and treasured.

I don't really know what happens to us every few weeks or so - how we can go from so close to so distant with the changing of the tides or the phases of the moon. It seems to me that the planetary alignment has to be just right in order for you to say “good morning” to me, ask how I am, or hold me. Sometimes, it feels like something as mundane as a toe stub or as frustrating as a conversation with your boss will impact whether or not I hear from you for a week, two weeks, even a month. You blow so hot and then so cold with the wind that I don't know whether to put on a dress or a down jacket. You can probably tell I've been thinking about this much, and I have. I think you're very good at compartmentalizing, putting me into a little box until you feel able-bodied enough to deal with me. But my thoughts and feelings can't help but bleed into everything I do and am. The only thing I ever needed from you was some consistency in your interactions with me. Could you say "good morning" to me? Start a round of Scrabble? Ask me how I am? Take an interest in my life? And then there's the biggest one: hold me. I am touch-starved. Blame the pandemic. I don't know if that makes you a friend with benefits, or what. But I'd be lying if I told you that my body didn't want that. My body and mind want anything but the sickness they've been contending with for so long. Call it a respite. I struggle to call you a friend with benefits because I really love you. But I know people can be more than one thing to each other.

I guess I also feel like, when things are going badly for you elsewhere, you automatically file us into the "bad" category, too. I used to self-sabotage a lot and still do at times, so I get this. Maybe that's why it impacts me so greatly with you. Because you're me in so many ways. You are my mirror. We can both be our own worst enemies sometimes. But I'm the kind of woman who responds best to "I need space" rather than full on silence or an abrupt ending that comes out of nowhere because you feel stressed elsewhere. Do you think it's fair that you begin to self-sabotage when things get hard and in doing so, shove away the one person who will ever truly love you - me? No? Neither do I. We've got to go easier with each other. We're all fragile. There will never be another me. I know I am the Red Queen to you. But sometimes I feel like this title makes you believe I am some superhuman. I am human, just like you. I have always tried my best to give you what you need and to make you happy. But I have feelings, too. I don't want to have to tell you to care for me or see me. I want you to because you want to - because you cannot imagine your life without me in it. It sounds more complicated on paper than it plays out in real life.

Sometimes, I feel funny telling you all this - though, with the things we've done and said to each other - how could I feel funny? Then again, sometimes I can't find you to tell you and so, I write because I feel unseen and the words help. Sometimes, I fear that by telling you, I am trying to force your hand. Because the truth is, if you don't want to say "good morning" to me but only say it because I want you to, then it wouldn't really mean anything. I don't really know where I'm going with this. I just haven't been well for some time now and needed you to know that it isn't you causing it. It seems when I do tell you how I feel, you take it to mean that it is you causing me pain and go even further away. In reality, you and I are a bright spot most of the time. That is, until the cycle of disappearance and disconnect rears its ugly head. But we're worth trying to figure it out. Honest. Even if it just means a walk in the park again. My heart hopes you will agree, and surprise me. I wouldn't refuse flowers, but what I really want is your face. You know why.

As Tom Petty sang: "You oughta want her more than money. Cadillacs and rust. Diamonds and dust.... Good love is hard to find,"

Your (very human) Red Queen

Running Season

The weird chill is upon me,

and I see you’re lacing up your running shoes -

not minding the snow blanketing our small earth

or the probability of slip and fall.

But there are whiteout conditions out there!

Surely, you’ll freeze to death.

Shivering outside love’s shelter.

And why the straitjacket?

We both know it can’t keep you warm -

no matter how tight you pull.

With no finish line in sight,

how will you ever know when it’s time

to turn back towards this woman who’s missing you?

Or will the bell-like peal of her laugh

fade into distant memory like the sound of the starting gun?

But you’re already off.

The cold penetrates me -

icy wind blowing in from the screen door

that I can’t get to shut

as I realize it’s me you’re running from.

I knew when the icicles resurfaced on my bones

that you were pulling at the laces.

Making them taut.

Readying for another journey where I am not welcome.

This chapter I tear from the book

that always reappears

just when I think it’s safe to say running season has ended.

Are those shoes new?

You’re faster than I’m used to,

or is it my exhaustion holding me in place?

Oh, barefooted, naked me -

it’s not my job to chase you

in this sprint faster than Cupid’s arrow

that dares an avalanche.

How it rocks the boat of our bond,

almost willing it to tip over

as the lines in my face deepen.

Watching you take off with my golden heart in-hand.

Held high like the Olympic torch.

And the imprint of yesterday’s kiss upon your frostbitten lips.

Estimated time of return — unknown.

© Julia R. DeStefano