Non-Fiction Finalist Lauren Krauze

Jan 28, 2018 by

Non-Fiction Finalist Lauren Krauze

Giving Myself to It


I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years
And still I don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

-Rainer Maria Rilke


On my first date ever, Steve and I rode bikes in his backyard. I was ten. I was so nervous that I threw up in the mulch behind his pool.

Two years later, on Halloween night, he kissed me in the shadows between two pine trees in my backyard. His tongue pulsed through my mouth like a slippery muscle fish.

Chuck and I made out in his bedroom while his mother watched All in the Family downstairs. I could hear Archie Bunker whining, “Yes, Edith,” as I slipped my hand down his underwear.

Tom made me laugh, but I was suspicious.

Jay used to train for football season by running up mountains with logs on his shoulders. I watched him from afar.

I sat on Gene’s bed while he strummed Jewel songs on his guitar. When I was ready to go home, his dad sat in the recliner by the door and watched me tie my sneakers. He would take a swig of beer and smile at me for a little too long.

On hot August nights, Travis and I made out in the lifeguard chair. During the winter months, I sometimes wondered what it would be like if he forced himself on me.

Tom again. For Christmas, he named a star after me. In March, we jumped out of a plane together somewhere over Daytona. In April, he dumped me. That June, it rained for a month straight.

I gave Dave a blowjob while we were watching a James Bond movie. I think it made him feel powerful.

While studying in London, I invited Nile over to fool around while all of my flat mates were traveling in Ireland for the weekend. I was all alone with him. He could have killed me if he wanted to.

Jim and I made out only when no one else was in the flat. Over spring break, we traveled to Nice and Monaco with friends. When I tried to hold his hand in the airport, he walked away from me.

When I was 19, Rob was 27. I thought he would get a thrill out of his intern (me) pulling his hair when we were hooking up. He grunted, then shook his head away from my hand.

Jeffrey was calm, mellow, and smiled a lot. I wrote a poem about him called “Can You See Me?” I can only remember the last two lines, which were: yes yes I can see you / and your hanging, outstretched arms.

Jayson and I lay on his bed and watched Food Network. I kept an eye on his thin, sinewy fingers. I didn’t want him to try anything.

Tim and I lay on my bed and talked about hiking trails back home. I wanted him to try something, but he never did.

Luke wore cowboy boots. When I went down on him, he reclined on top of my stuffed animal giraffe, Jorge. “You squished Jorge,” I said later. I never saw him again.

On our first date, Ramy showed up at my apartment with flowers. No one had ever given me flowers before.

Jay again. At a bar on the Upper East Side, he took a body shot of tequila off my bare stomach, and then licked a line of salt off my chest. He came back to my apartment after, but when I made a move, he rolled away from me and fell asleep.

Tom again. I told him I wanted to have sex with him, but because we weren’t really together, it would be too difficult. I don’t remember what he said. I didn’t sleep at all that night.

Adam was 15 years older than me. He beat me in every round of Wednesday night music trivia, and apologized by hugging me.

The NYU dental student I was dancing with followed me into the bathroom at a bar. He locked the door. I don’t remember much after that, but I know we didn’t stay in there very long.

Chris and I broke up after a few months because he didn’t believe that women poop, among other reasons.

Charlie was older. An entrepreneur. He took me out to brunch on a snowy Sunday; there were pancakes, fresh-baked rolls, and a crackling fire in the fireplace. I felt loved and warm. He was a forever-kind-of-guy I only saw that one morning.

I met Jonathan on the subway. He sang to me. We took showers together. He had a girlfriend at the time whom he lived with. I kind of cared and kind of didn’t.

Hari was the first person I slept with. I didn’t love him, but I wanted to. When he finally rolled off me, my naked body was shivering. Something about it felt terrible and familiar, terrible and familiar. His bedroom had no windows. The next morning, he made himself a bowl of cereal and didn’t offer me anything to eat.

Randy was the first person I met online. He invited me to a pub in the West Village. When I told him I didn’t eat meat, he said, “Too bad for you,” and sunk his tiny teeth into a burger he had ordered “so rare it’s bleeding.”

When my brother’s friend Tony broke up with his fiancée, I was convinced that it was because he was in love with me. He took me out to play pool, and as I was bending over and lining up for a shot, he pressed himself against me. When he asked to come upstairs and I said no, he called me a stupid bitch.

Tom’s younger brother asked me to go bowling. Four times. I finally agreed. After he bowled a turkey, he hugged me and stroked my hair.

Seth introduced me to his parents on our third date. I thought it was sweet. His friends made fun of him for weeks.

Nick sent me yellow roses when I left my job, and red roses on my birthday. To this day, no other person has given me roses.

Matteo and I went shopping for a chicken costume that he needed. He tried on several costumes and I gave him feedback about the different feathers and beaks. He didn’t end up buying anything.

One summer evening in Washington Square Park, Ben unhooked my bra while we were making out. He asked me if he could take it home, and I said yes. I went home braless and never saw him again.

Hank lived in my building. I found myself wondering what the co-op board would think of his rough style in bed.

On New Year’s Eve, Darius and I made out for hours while walking through my neighborhood. I invited him up. He pulled me into the stairwell of my building and started unbuttoning my jeans. I stopped him. He went back to DC and said he would come visit, but he got married instead.

Tom again. He pulled me out of a rip current in the Atlantic. He ran one mile 24 with me in the New York marathon. We went to church together. One afternoon, while we were laying in my bed listening to summer thunder roll between the skyscrapers, I told him that day was the last time he would ever see me.

A sweet, elderly woman took a photo of Wilson and me in Rockefeller Center. As she walked away with her husband, she turned around and smiled at us like we would be together for years.

I met Hot Tub Tom at a yoga festival in Whistler. He almost kissed me. When he came to New York for work, I kissed him. The next time he came to New York for work, he bailed on me at the last minute, saying he had food poisoning.

Tomás and I were relaxing on the beach in Costa Rica after a long day of surfing. We had been getting closer and closer throughout the surf retreat week. Then, as the sun dipped below the horizon, he leaned in close and whispered that he had a girlfriend.

Paul told me he got circumcised as an adult because his penis went through a growth spurt and outgrew its foreskin. He asked if he could lick my butt. I said no. He broke up with me because I’m vegan and he couldn’t share his chicken cutlets with me.

I went over to Ricky’s apartment for Chinese food and a movie. He put on Tropic Thunder. When ordering takeout, he asked me if I would eat pork dumplings. I wouldn’t, but I said yes anyway.

Zack and I went on four perfectly fine dates, but were trying to force the chemistry. He also said that my yoga community was a cult, which it was. We fell out of touch.

Early on, Caleb told me his body was a machine. I should have listened to him. Instead, I spent four long months wondering why he was so devoid of emotion in bed and in general.

On our second date, Dev took me to The Moth. While we were waiting in line for tickets, he gave me a small cardboard gift box. Inside the box was a tiny, fossilized seashell. He said it probably seemed random, but he thought I would like it. I did.

John. John made me delicious, home-cooked meals. John took me on a scavenger hunt through Prospect Park. John bought me a moonstone elephant at a street market in Brooklyn. When I told him I couldn’t see him anymore, I broke down and started crying. He hugged me for a long time.

Andrew took me out for a drink, then another drink, then dinner. He worked with refugees and had an older sister he really admired. He always talked about how lonely he felt in this big, big city. When the weather turned cold, I stopped hearing from him.

I met Brandon while I was collecting sea glass in Long Beach. After we exchanged numbers and parted ways, I looked over to a nearby seagull and said, smiling, “Did you see that?!”

Scott was a freelance location scout who worked with major film companies. One night, he FaceTimed me as he was entering his apartment so I could see, firsthand, just how happy his cat was when he arrived home every night.

After I confided to Wesley that I was molested when I was a kid, he told me that in the privacy of his apartment, he gets off to some really freaky shit.

When we sat down at the bar, Cody ordered a Moscow Mule and started talking to the hot female bartender about his four Dobermans back home in Oklahoma.

I met Jamie the day before he was going to become a U.S. citizen. When I asked him who was accompanying him to the swearing in ceremony, he said no one. I wanted to tell him I could join him, but I didn’t. He didn’t call me again.

Felipe took me dancing at Pyramid Club. It was 80s night. I didn’t know any of the songs. When I told him I was born the year Time After Time came out, he called me a baby and walked a few steps ahead of me.

Vin. One night, as we walked through Prospect Park, the tall, dark trees hovering over us, I felt déjà vu; I had once dreamt of us walking through a forest, at night, with the tall, dark trees hovering over us.

In many ways, JP was a perfect match—he also lived uptown, worked at my college, and was interested in very precise academic questions, like just how sustainable are the large-scale water dams in rural Turkey? He didn’t confirm our first date, but I showed up anyway. He never arrived; was I ghosted, or stood up? Jury’s still out.

I may still be dating Kurt. We’ve had two dates, but the only thing he texts me nowadays is “hey how was ur day” with no punctuation. As a writer, I know better; and yet, I keep giving myself to it.

Lauren Krauze is a New York-based writer and writing lecturer whose work has appeared in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and the literary journals Painted Bride Quarterly, Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, and Modern Haiku.

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