This is my girlfriend, Mari. She’s beautiful and she’s kind. I love her very much.

mari

As many of you have already realized, this post had very little to do with butterflies and everything to do with her. Our encounter was to be brief and fleeting if at all. True to form, I showed up in chanclas and a t-shirt. She opened the door, I lost my breath. Photos don’t do certain people justice. “Nice of you to get so dressed up,” she said and we both laughed. The tone of the evening was set.

There was wine and thai food, conversation and laughter, twinkling eyes, and two cocktails. She drinks whiskey, straight up.

I had never thought about it until that evening, but when we let go of a hug, it’s a meaningful gesture. It means I’ve had enough of this, our embrace is over, it would be awkward to not let go, I’d be pushing boundaries, a hug doesn’t last longer than a second or two.

That night I didn’t let go, I couldn’t. It was a hug that deserved a perfect 10, even from the Russian judge. In a couple days I would leave for Seattle, then Venezuela, then Brazil, then Argentina, where I would find an apartment, a favorite cafe, a group of friends.

break

— Yes, when someone changes the subject three times in a row it means that they’re uncomfortable answering the question.
— No it doesn’t, it’s just that nothing really occurred to me …
— Then you could have said that. You could have said, “I haven’t really thought about it” instead of changing the subject three times … because, obviously you were uncomfortable.
— You can’t tell me I was uncomfortable. You’re not the grand arbiter of what people feel or how they react. There was no reason for me to change the subject, I just did.
— What do you mean there was no reason! Of course there’s a reason. There’s a reason behind everything we do.
— Ummm, no there’s not. You have this image of how everyone should be and when they don’t fit into your boxes then you say they’re not being honest with themselves.
— What I’m saying is that there’s always a reason behind everything that we do. Maybe it’s subconscious. Do you even know what that means? It means you’re not aware of the reason. It means you’re not aware of why you changed the subject, but yes, there was a reason.
— You know, I remember I used to have this very narrow view of how everyone should be and how they should act too, but you’re going to have to realize that not everyone’s the same and you’re going to have to accept that. Some people really do things without any reason. Just because …

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In Art of the Novel Milan Kundera argues that Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina marks a new era of Western literature. Specifically, he argues that Anna Karenina’s decision to kill herself was a revolutionary act in the novel precisely because it made no sense. There was no reason, no logic behind it. And that, argues Kundera, is closer to the reality of human nature than anything that had ever come before. If the purpose of the novel is to shed light on human nature, then Tolstoy was the first novelist to admit there are some things that just can’t be understood.

That’s a hard notion for me to accept. If there’s no reason for what we do, then why do we try to understand ourselves? Why are we held responsible for our actions? Why do we try to become better people?

Or, here’s a circular question: If there’s no reason for what we do, then why do we do it?

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“You bloggers, I just don’t understand you,” a friend of mine said over the phone. “It’s like you guys have to analyze every single thing you do; from what you buy to what you watch to who you hang out with. I mean, doesn’t that take away from just enjoying life without questioning and documenting everything?”

That was the same question I was asking myself last night, sitting on a cold tiled bench in the BART station, too exhausted to be miserable. My pale hand resting on Mari’s warm, thin thigh. To the left of us, standing, was an East Asian kid lost in his headphones. His figure was slumped in loneliness, his eyes staring blankly ahead, not at the opposite wall, but through it. There was a familiarity about his posture, his disconnectedness, that reminded me of my last metro ride back to the hotel before I got mugged in Caracas.

Why do I have to try and understand every god damned thing? Why am I so desperate for answers? Why can’t I just shut the fuck up and smile and enjoy life’s contradictions? Why do I obsess over making sense of every damned incongruence in my life?

“Why don’t you just love first and let everything make sense afterwards?” she had said.

break

This is my girlfriend, Mari. She’s beautiful and she’s kind. I love her very much.

mari

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