Illustration by Alice Maiden


4 October 2017

London, United Kingdom.

A Sunday slumber turned October tastes like cider mixed with tahini.

He arrives late, ambling with calmness behind his ears. He sleeps on my green yoga mat, playing Bill Evans into the night. He tries to leave quietly, but opens the wrong door sounding the alarm.

Morning invades the room by an assertion of new pain at the bottom of my right foot. Bright yellow shoes snoozing in the corner are the culprits. But I’ll probably still wear them tomorrow.

Chipped blue toenails hobble towards the kitchen. They pile ground espresso into a Moka pot, but in their absentmindedness forget to add water. Burnt coffee and rubber for breakfast.

“You ain’t getting any

Younger, younger, younger, are you?”

Morning hymn to my 4 minute 13 second plank. 

I might be too old for this. My body has begun to retire. Now that’s something you’d say.

Red and orange leaves crush under our matching scuffed Blundstones. I think about your love affair with autumn made public in that embarrassingly massive collection of photos.

A lemon poppy seed pound cake crumbles between us. A chewing meditation on how I forgot to mention that his absence was not felt, that he was already gone before I arrived.

Departure is flavored by garlic-soaked, buttery naan consumed in silence, of candle light flickering through empty Heineken light bottles. Did I mention my appetite for Indian food and beer has dissipated since that night?

I have managed to lose two ID cards in two weeks. I trip and fall over as I exit my lecture. Like my soul is trying to rid itself of this body.

Announced at Lidl: “Lemons. Did you remember to get the lemons?” I buy a parsley plant at Waitrose and name her Curly. I forget that I am vegetarian and order a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. Forbes Sunday Brunch habits die hard. 

My mom calls me to ask who the guy on your Instagram is. She is not used to seeing consecutive pictures of someone that is not me.

I light a coconut and white orchid scented candle in glee. Take that, Princeton fire safety. 

Iris. Irisssss. IRASSSSSS.  You say you can hear me screaming your name across the English Channel. Good.

You have a severe infection in your gums right now and you can’t speak or chew. I want to give you an electric blue wiggly straw to use. Feed you berry-banana whip.

I moved to London without my best friend. I moved to London and have realized I never want to leave. I never was a fan of small American towns with strange social sects to begin with.

Long distance friendships suck. There is no lyricism to be added to this sentence.

On my way home, I step in smears of blue sky. Inside these watery webs of sun, I catch a glimpse of Frida and Botticelli’s Venus shining in the remnants of yesterday’s rain.




October 9, 2017

Redon, Bretagne, France.


Last week, I lost a wisdom tooth. The dentist who pulled it out said, il faut que vous parliez Francais. But I still don’t know how to feel pain in French.

Back in my apartment, I stared at the tooth they let me keep as a souvenir: dent de sagesse. Enamel stained yellow by the many cups of espresso we shared in the Dodge Osborn kitchen, in the Amalfi Coast, in Japanese mini-markets.

Outside my apartment, Parisians tucked baguettes under their arms and the sun dried yesterday’s puddles. The moment tasted of blood and orange-flavored painkillers.

The morning before I scheduled the emergency appointment at the dentist’s office, I attended a photography class in Gare du Nord. We stood on the balcony overlooking the tracks as our professor pointed out the shifting light, the ebb and flow of humans. Nearby, passengers queued to board the Eurostar. For that brief moment, you were just two hours and one channel away.

Paris isn’t easy. The leaves here change differently than along our towpath. Sitting in the Jardin du Luxemburg, I remember an inside joke we shared, something about French kissing and American boldness, and laugh into the crisp air. Holding the brown foliage in front of my phone camera, I hear you saying: “A-corny person.”

The day after I said goodbye to my tooth, I drove down leaf-lined highways to Bretagne, land of crepes and ocean-mist. Here too, I am not a vegetarian. I eat smoked salmon and remember the same patio brunches, when we mocked old white men brandishing sticks. I haven’t found any golf courses here.

In a city called St. Malo, the Atlantic tide rises and falls by nearly a kilometer, turning rock outcroppings into islands, then mainland, then back. Skipping between the tide pools as the water ebbs away, I search for crabs and kelp.

In the back of my mouth, there is now a tooth-shaped crater. I used to say that teeth are metaphors for friends. When I was in the army, I had a recurring nightmare of my teeth falling out. No longer in uniform, I believed they’d stay forever.

But my body is not retiring, like you said. In my French class, a young man from Cairo smiled at me after he gave a presentation on public transportation in his city. After class, we took the metro together. His station is one before mine. À bientôt.

You are just a channel away, but I worry about everything that is getting carried away in its current. When I cook curry in my apartment, where the cabinets are fully organized and never locked, I want to remind you not to burn the eggplant.

I haven’t eaten baguette this week. For now, I still have crepes, and we still have Facebook Messenger. Without my tooth, I feel a little less wise.

See ya when the tide is low.



Illustration by Alice Maiden