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September 27, 2020 fucked up modern love essays

JFK

Zoe Underhill

JFK photo

This diner has been here since 1949 but I am sure that no one has ever looked as beautiful as you do sitting on these red vinyl seats. All I can do is look at your face. There is a sadness behind your eyes that I didn’t notice before.   

One time JFK drove past this diner and someone caught it on camera, I tell you.

All you do is look at me and nod, you take a shaky sip of your coffee. 

Now that photo is on the front of all the menus and on the side of the building. You see that old lady working? She’s been working here since JFK drove by. I’m rambling now.

You take an arduous bite of cherry pie and say, I bet she was so beautiful when she was young, and then you smile with your teeth and I melt onto the red vinyl seats and all over the dirty carpet. You laugh with your whole mouth at the puddle I have become.    

The city feels fuller now that I am in it with you. It’s strange to think that you had been here the whole time. I try not to allow myself to imagine what would be different if I had met you earlier.

It’s likely we would have gone to these spots: I would have taken you to the park with the water tower, you would have taken me to that nook that looks over the city, we would get coffee from the 24 hour café in the nighttime for no reason, we would drink beers and you would roll cigarettes for us.

In the diner you say:

I am trying not to think about the future 

and I say:

Let me show you where I learned how to ride a bike, 

Let me show you where I had my first kiss,

Let me show you where I got so drunk I had to be carried home,

Let me show you the street I used to live on,

Let me show you the liquor store I would steal from. 

What’s interesting is that in this diner I feel like I have loved you my whole life, but this isn’t true. You don’t know about my first kiss, or about the house I grew up in, and I am running out of time to tell you.  

We decide that future is not a word that we know, the only thing real and concrete is this photo of JFK and this old woman telling us about the magic of watching him drive by and then disappear.

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