“Through These Eyes” documents real-life memories in first person.
I am a chemist. I embody structure, cleanliness, and control. Everything I do serves a purpose. Should something unsteady my work, I am quick to refocus.
I sleep only when I must. I am fueled by coffee. I am fueled by ambition. I am fueled by success.
Emotions are for those who waste time. Emotions are nonsense. They are productivity-killing distractions, ready always to destroy morale.
Yes, I understand we must have some sort of emotional counsel. What else motivates one to pride himself on success, or to weep over failure?
Love’s the worst offender. It should be left to fiction, to Jane Austen and her sorority.
And I do enjoy fiction in my spare time. Through books I experience romance from far enough away. I made the mistake once, however, of turning such fiction into a real-life experiment…
It’s 2009. I’m 20 years old. It’s late August.
I’m sitting on my dorm building’s stoop in the early evening, reading Emma, waiting for him, nervous. This is one of my first “real” dates with another guy. It is a date, isn’t it?
He drives up in a snot-green Ford Taurus. He’s 6’2” with brown hair and blue eyes; he’s cute to look at, but beautiful to watch–the way he walks, how he so freely moves. Sounds silly, I know.
I am intrigued by his spontaneity, his silliness, his free spirit. He’s unlike my classmates; he’s unfazed by competition and success and left unburdened by ambition and responsibility.
“Take a walk with me,” he says.
We were supposed to drive to a party. A walk wasn’t planned.
But off we go.
I’m bad with silence, especially when I’m nervous, so I make “conversation” by laying immediately into one-sided, rapid-fire nonsense. I talk about being an RA, books, school. I talk about this and that and this and that and this and that and that and that and this and this and that, and I know I’m talking too much but I can’t help it and I–
I feel his hand in the small of my back. Everything slows down. He turns me toward him, puts his hands on my hips, and pushes his lips onto mine.
He kisses me. In the middle of campus, on my lips, he kisses me.
For the first time I can remember, I need no words. I have no thoughts. I feel, I see, only him. And his deodorant. I smell his awful deodorant. Axe.
So here I stand, kissing an irresponsible, ridiculous, snot-green-car-driving man inside an area of town of questionable safety, for the first time in my life not giving a fuck.
Well, maybe giving a little fuck. There is an awkward moment when I don’t know where to put my hands. Do I hold his face? Do I grab his hips? Or do I just lay my arms by my side? And are our noses doing anything weird? Are they suppose to touch? I haven’t really done this before. I want to ensure its success.
We pull away, and I’m still without words. I have no conversation to awkwardly make. I have nothing to say, and I’m fine with it.
He holds my hand and we walk for a while in silence. I feel like I’m in a romance novel. You know, the grass is so green, the sky that peachy-sunset color, the air so fragrant. Euphoria. Rose-colored glasses. Those, yes, and whatever else romance makes you feel–this is what I feel.
So what do I do? I ruin the moment, of course.
“That… ugh… That was very good,” I say.
“Um…” he says, “Thank you?”
The night ends awkwardly, but in a cute romantic comedy kind of way.
We dated after that. It didn’t last. When I’m passionate about something, I must analyze it. I must know everything about it. And to it I will dedicate all I have. He wasn’t that way. He saw us differently than I did. And he broke my heart.
I am a chemist. I am in the business of science, not silliness. I am in the business of hypotheses, experiments, and results.
My hypothesis now is that love is for the weak and that I will be alone for the rest of my life. The evidence suggests these truths, and I prefer life that way anyhow.
But there are always unexpected influences for which we cannot account. There are sometimes unexpected results. There are failed hypotheses.
Maybe this will be one of them.
Okay, fine, hopefully.
Akshat S. lives in Wisconsin.