By Jia Tolentino.
9:00 — I hear dog food clinking into a metal bowl and turn away from the windows, curling up towards my boyfriend, who gets back into bed. There’s a bearded chin tilted upwards, a red Piggly Wiggly T-shirt with cutoff sleeves but I’m not sure if I saw it or if it’s just what I always see.
9:34 — My dog puts her face in my face. I hate her.
9:42 — “HAY,” growls my boyfriend, at my dog, who is still whining. It’s ten degrees outside and we have an iced-over backyard that she can trot around whenever she pleases. Bitch is kidding herself if she thinks she’s going to the park.
The night before, I was in a state of benevolent insanity and didn’t drink much. I feel okay enough to decide I can go to yoga in a half hour, which is earlier than I’ve ever gone in my life. Pleased, I attach myself to my boyfriend like a koala. His throat hurts, he says. I tell him to go have some Throat Coat. He offers to give me some Throat Coat. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” we say sincerely.
9:57 — I’m up, wearing red plaid button-up pajamas, which is what I’m wearing 90% of the time I’m at home. Coffee from the stovetop, the last slice of bread, butter and jam. Andrew is squeezing a lemon into a clear big glass of hot tea. The seeds fall and bounce—a dozen of them. “This lemon has so many seeds,” he says, bewildered.
We sit down on the couch and pick up an episode of It’s Always Sunny at the place where he fell asleep last night. Andrew is an extremely well-adjusted early riser and he always falls asleep within three minutes of closing his eyes. I don’t understand this; unless I have poisoned my body into submission, I have to read for an hour before I can sleep. (On days when the internet’s been bad, my pre-bed freneticism is particularly ugly, and one day last week I had to get with my most soothing weed [“Larry” is the very Midwestern strain name and I’m on the last of the stuff I brought from Michigan; hit me up if your guy fucks with Larry] and lie down, reading poetry out loud to myself in an act of self-hypnosis, just saying the syllables, not letting myself think about the words. It worked and I fell asleep like a baby, thinking the thought I have probably once a week, which is, “Why don’t I smoke even more?”)
10:15 — A little late to yoga because I got distracted on the way looking at the blown garbage nest in the dirt-soaked snow, and a man outside the bulletproof Chinese spot asked me to “wife him.” No big deal. I’m absolutely killing it.
10:18 — All the weekend teachers at this yoga studio strongly emphasize not trying too hard, which is an ethos I support immensely (my fitness motto is: always give 60-70%). I have never 1) broken a sweat or 2) raised my heart rate in this little dirty room where the police lights flash on the unlit walls and cars parked outside are always bumping Rich Gang. This also means that I have barely exercised since moving to New York in September; I’ve taken maybe six classes at this studio, and recently started going to the barre studio near the Gawker office, where the environment is not my steez—lots of speedy-eyed, sinewy women giving backhanded compliments and talking about calories. But your options are limited when you can only stand to exercise via methods that heavily involve lying down on the floor.
10:40 — We’re instructed to get bolster cushions. A guy named Zach is sitting at the back; at the beginning of class, he said it was his first time at yoga ever. He stands by the pile of cushions, passing them back, and the people next to him follow suit. We all smile at each other, passing big soft toys around; it feels like kindergarten.
11:05 — I have a laughing fit in the middle of cat-cows, thinking about Eva.
11:13 — In the middle of a pose I find myself whispering, “It’s not as bad as it is boring.” I don’t know about what.
11:30 — Yoga is over and I text Andrew to meet me on the street. We get groceries. At home, he grates ginger into a cup because I said it would be good for him.
12:07 — I make a sandwich: wheat bread, mozzarella, prosciutto, basil, olive oil, pepper. I eat it while reading Bon Appetit. I have always liked to read about food when I’m eating by myself; it sort of seems like watching porn while you masturbate.
12:30 — I log into my work email and schedule two Jezebel features, then I turn on the Wet EP and start writing this. I love the songwriting, Kelly’s voice, the production, which is all my friend Noah—I love hearing my friends’ manner and decision-making in music the same way I like reading the things my friends write.
I type up till this sentence, and then go back and take 20% of the length out, which is my basic self-edit all the way from blog posts I write in nine minutes to my novel, which I’ve been working on for three years and intend to look at today but of course do not.
12:57 — I’ve caught up to the present. I get up to make another sandwich.
1:15 — I run the bottom half of my hair under water, coat it in coconut oil, put it in a bun, and start cleaning while watching Nashville. (I haven’t had a TV for 11 years, and the full extent of my consumption is Shark Tank, South Park, It’s Always Sunny, Broad City, Amy Schumer and Nashville.) Andrew’s on the couch looking up some shit about the seven months of testing he’s about to sit through to become licensed as an architect. He’s wearing a scarf in the house, which is psycho. I do the dishes, the floors, file the books I’ve been reading, put in a load of laundry, and put away my clothes from the week—a pile of neutral sweaters, black jackets, short skirts, jeans ripped not from style but me not taking care of my possessions.
4:02 — I get out of a hot shower, gasping. I blow-dry my bangs and the roots of my hair, which is the extent of my hair care routine. I’m standing in front of a gilt-edged oval mirror on our bedroom’s brick wall, and I look at my naked self thinking about all the embarrassing things I’ve done recently. My group text is beeping—two of my girlfriends are getting tattoos.
4:11 — I get an email that I stare at for 45 minutes before responding.
4:59 — I tell Andrew I’m about to take the dog for a walk. He says wait for a second. We have sex, it rules.
5:45 — I’m in Fort Greene Park, it’s icy, the sky is mauve and the snow falls lightly. I’m listening to Natalie Prass’s “My Baby Don’t Understand Me” for the thousandth time. I call my mom, who I never talk to. She tells me she got her period 43 years ago, on Valentine’s Day. She asks me when I got mine and I really can’t remember—not the year, not the place, not anything.
I sit my dog on the snow and take a picture and send it to her. She marvels that Luna can sit so still.
5:57 — I stop by a wine store to buy wine for dinner. I tie my dog to a tree with apprehension. Luckily she doesn’t get into any fights when I’m picking out my cheap-rack bottles; unluckily, when I come out, she’s trying to crawl under a car to eat some garbage. When I pull her out there’s dirt all down her front.
6:17 — The house is warm, the radiator hisses, there’s bacon in a skillet, and my boyfriend is chopping onions, carrots and mushrooms. I think for a second about how I am really glad to see Andrew even though I just left a bit ago. One thing I find very appealing about him is that he’s always happy to be with whoever he’s with; there is never anyone better for him than the person he is talking to. I’m not like that, and I like that he is.
8:24 — We eat—beef bourguignon, thick bread with garlic rubbed on it, red wine. This is our sixth Valentine’s Day together, we realize, and we try to remember all of them—mostly day drinking, or splitting up to hang out with friends. One year we did go out to dinner, to this place in Houston that serves my favorite drink of all time: tequila, an herby simple syrup, an ice cube with a jalapeño in it. Fuck.
I am personally opposed to formal celebrations of romantic affection for anyone under 60, and I prefer to use Valentine’s Day as the winter transition point where my tactic changes from “put your head down and don’t think about it” to “start actively courting your spring and summer thrive.” The first year I was with Andrew, we were extremely long-distance in that I was in the Peace Corps and didn’t even have internet (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to upload a video nude on a 56k connection at an internet cafe full of Russian tweens playing Minecraft) and I feel the same way about warm weather as I did about seeing him, back then. It’s going to happen; it’s going to be gorgeous. You’re going to look beautiful, you’re going to live in a swimsuit and cut limes in the backyard and pull beers out of a cooler and music will make you think about the present, not the past or the future, and—here’s the only definition I know of a good time—you won’t know what time it is, or care.
9:30 — Emma comes over with champagne and my dog jumps all over her. She tells me that she saw Prince last night and he said “Thanks” and then “You’re welcome” after every song. I get a text—We’re going to be late because I pooped myself at Walters—and realize my dumbass friends are stealing each other’s phones. Andrew’s still in sweatpants and that Piggly Wiggly shirt. The buzzer rings: Luce is covered in glitter, Frannie is behind her even though I thought she moved to Nashville two weeks ago, Sam hands me a bottle of Maker’s Mark and says “Happy rush week.”
11:15 — We pile in a car and go to a bar in the East Village—the old Arrow Bar, now Elvis Guesthouse—where two of our friends are DJing. I realize I left my ID and credit card in the jacket I was wearing when I bought wine, and fall deep in the self-loathing I experience twice per week when I forget something I really shouldn’t have. Because I often act more sober when I’m drunk than when I’m sober, I offer to triangulate my identity for the bouncer via my 2014 tax forms, a student ID, and a credit card. He’s not having any of it. “My friends are throwing this event for the bar,” I say feebly, embarrassed at myself. He’s still not having it. Emma comes over. “I employ her, she’s 26,” she says. The bouncer lets me in, telling me to make it up to him later. We dance in the same four-foot-square area till 4 AM.
Jia is the features editor at Jezebel.
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