I Fall in Love with Women Who Are How I’d Like to Be

a rainbow colored bottle of perfume
Image by JWSherman / CC BY

Can anyone remember love? It’s like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume.

-Arthur Miller

Ro’s Perfume

I leave Ro’s, my entire body thrumming. Still smelling her perfume.

We’ve been talking about nonhormonal contraception. Harry Chapin’s songs. The tragedy of his death.

On the drive home, she leaves me bit by bit. The experience of her. First, the sound of her voice fades. Then, I forget exactly what we were even talking about earlier, lost in my own thoughts.

But her perfume stays with me. It follows me into the house, like the ghost of her.

It’s subtle. Not cloying. Nothing like the cacophony of the fragrance section at the department store. Or the thin sample silvers that fall out of magazines. But there’s definitely something there. It persists.

I get ready for bed. I can still smell her.

As I climb in beside Skyspook for the night, he stirs. Murmurs, “I love you.”

I say it back. Stroke his back. He drops back to sleep.

I’m playing games on my phone for an hour in the darkness before her perfume fades.

I Fall in Love with Women Who Are How I’d Like to Be

My relationships with other women have always been marked with a sense of longing. Not merely for them, for their company, for their bodies (I’m only human), but also for the characteristics they have that I myself lack.

Usually confidence. A sense of poise. A knowing.

I fall in love with women who are how I’d like to be.

Ro certainly qualifies. She’s bright, professionally successful. And Ro has a control over her emotions that I find enviable. Where my own inner life often feels more like I’m chasing a classroom of caffeinated kindergartners.

She smells how I’d like to smell. And for a short while, I get to.

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My book is out!

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory

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