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Personal Essays

Personal Essays

Personal essays, 2002 - 2023


J left for two months, returned for a week, then left again. She was as good at leaving me as she was at loving me, though after the first few times, it no longer hurt the way it had the first. I missed her, but I learned that missing her came with the territory and, as such, I came to accept it. J’s leaving was — and is — simply part of how she loved me.

We had, once again, gone from talking every day to not talking at all. When she came back, it was as if we had shifted our places on some gra

Although Then a Stranger

"I want the beginning of you and the ending of you to myself."

Her voice had an edge that I had only heard once before, but now it was much sharper, though a little more tired than the first time I heard it.

She was jealous of women who had come into and left my life long before hers had even had a beginning and for a moment, I thought that her grudge might be with time, and in a way it was. Time, after all, was just as abstract as any of the descriptionless and nameless women I had written ab

I Do Not Drink From Lethe. I Do Not Look To Ithaca.

I liked that you liked me. What was it you liked? Tell me. Yes. Again. As you bite your lower lip and try to keep your mouth from going dry.Your eyes make me ache. They are like sea glass.I am embarrassed at how domesticated we've both become, you more so than I. Much more fun when you crawled across my body like a cat, limbs long and hot, your pale skin smelling of the liqueur of your perfume and buttery champagne, as sweet as summer. My sheets smelled of you for days. You didn't get dressed un

Paris: L'hiver. Part 1.

The dawn glowed orange on the creamy gray horizon as we finally shook free of the Icelandic night and started toward morning in Paris. I drank a beer and stretched out in my seat watching the starboard moon's reflection on the wing. The beer was very cold and I justified drinking it because it was 3 or 4 am in New York, whatever that meant. It occurred to me shortly after that I didn't need to justify it; that there was no one in my life to justify anything to anymore and that's why I left.


Paris: L'hiver. Part 2: The Girl at The Ritz

The night had just started to sparkle and it was barely 6pm, so I decided to walk up Rue Saint Honoré. Most of the shops were still open and I thought for a moment about dropping into the bar with the barrel tables, but knew that I would just end up going back to my room if I did.I continued up Saint Honoré to the wash of the bright golden light of Place Vendôme.The Vendôme Column was lit like a pillar of steel glowing silver and blue in the sodium lamps that lit the square. I peered into the wi

Paris L'hiver. Part 3: Sophia

When I awoke, she was draped across my body, one leg over mine, bathed by a single blade of sunlight that cut through the crack in the drapes that I remember her drawing before we fell into the pillowed folds of the bedding.

She was awake, watching me with sleep-soft eyes, her fingers tracing slow figure-eights on my chest. I remember how she had let down her hair the night before as she undressed; how the click of the door of closing behind us suddenly transformed her crystalline remoteness in

Le Vrai Paris

I stumble onto the platform at the Barbès-Rochechouart Metro station, having missed my stop at Anvers and almost getting crushed in the slamming doors of the train. My feet are swollen and I can feel the blisters tear under the chafing of the new shoes I bought before leaving America. I am glad I’ve got codeine, as I have no idea how to say “aspirin” in French. I pull my suitcase along and feel for my wallet, certain that a pickpocket has marked me as an easy target. It’s still there.

The city

No Past To Speak Of: A Fairytale of New York

At some point, every writer who lives or who has ever lived in New York City writes something like this. Sometimes it's a love letter, full of possibilities and a past that, like a shadow, can never really be left behind, but can at least be ignored while you walk towards the sun or a nest of streetlights. Sometimes it's an elegy, full of city lights that glow a little brighter through the lens of nostalgia and cramped, cold apartments that are remembered as quaint as often as they are miserable

The Great Gatsby : Not A Love Story

The Great Gatsby is a lot of things — a sharp look at the divide between the haves and the have-nots; the difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’ money in American society — but it’s not a love story. That various movie versions have depicted it as a glamorous tale of star-crossed lovers meant for easy consumption by status-anxious audiences doesn’t change that fact.

According to Andrew Turnbull’s biography of the author, Fitzgerald once said of the book that “the whole idea of Gatsby is the unfairn

Anything But Painless

Ten years ago this November, shortly before Thanksgiving, a girl I knew — a friend––took her life. She was 26. I was at Columbia when a mutual friend texted me with the news. I never asked how: the how never matters because when it comes to suicide, the answer, once stripped of morbid detail and the mechanics of death, comes down to “by choice.” In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde wrote, “when I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of th

And I Cannot Help But Wonder

It was a Superman lunchbox and the smell of my mother’s perfume when she left me on the steps of the tiny Kindergarten portable that fortified me on my first day of school. That was the beginning of it. Before first crushes, first cigarettes, first girlfriends, and first rum-and-cokes greedily consumed out of two liter bottles for most of my senior year of high school, there was that lunchbox and Chanel, fortifying me against my two worst fears at five years old: 1)

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