Relationships Measured By His Phonology by Anna Louise Jiongco
Dedicated to Cali Tucker, the pioneer of friendships with priceless inside jokes
Eye-glanced, tripped into conversation one might introduce or one might ask.
Ben, Dan, Tim, Mike, Chris- the way you would at least would want to know after one drink. Ben does Finance and you remember your last bank account statement. Perhaps this could be, but Dan is a handyman, an electrical engineer who also happens to hook wires the way he hooks you into conversation. Tesla emits among several other topics, yet Tim is a concept furniture designer and you always imagined what it would be like to have interiors calculated with a Zittel-like sense of space. Mike is a pilot and you remember your last trip to Costa Rica where the fires on the beach grow wilder than their women’s thick bouquet of hair. Chris is a 90’s graffiti artist turned party organizer. You remember being seventeen and the scent of losing summer; you remember drunkenly biking into oblivion after snorting oxy and reading the Beat poets and finding excuses to always be late to any engagement—every night doped up, danced up, tripped up, always left with strangers who never cleaned up. Wiped-slapping their hands while everyone forgets.
Monosyllabic in nature, you ride a train with them after a couple and it becomes a one stop to nowhere.
Alex, Peter, Marcus, Kenneth- the way you would want to know after a few conversations over coffee, a stroll or two through Madison Square Park, or on a bench overlooking some body of water: a harbor, a stream, the beach. Alex is a restauranteur and you remember your last meal of leftover meat and steamed broccoli. Yogurt with fruit for dessert. He whips you into the South of France and even the way his eyes glimmer in conversation is so provençal that your skin sizzles like a white fermented grape. Peter is not a hat full of tricks. He is a magazine editor and a nonfiction writer for a localized news publication. Embarrassed by your last purchase of Italian Vogue, he talks about Occupy Wall Street and the women who were maced by cops during this occupation. You recount the women on the spreads of Missoni and Ferragamo faced with the slithering pain of burning sensations, lasting for at least 24 hours. Marcus is part of the forensics department at NYPD and with your lipsticked-lips and slight sips, he talks about the human design of fingerprints and the stories of blood-spills all over Manhattan from the 80’s. You think you hear sirens in your ears, that your heart is playing some sort of symphony. And Kenneth. Kenneth is a television producer. You tell him you have no time to watch t.v. these days and he jolts into laughter because neither does he. At the end of the day, he walks you to your doorstep from the sandwich cafe (even though he lives another borough away). He assures you that its his pleasure to do so.
In disyllabic fashion, you engage with them and they are two steps away from taking you out on another date.
Sebastian, Demetri, Julio- the way you would want to know after meeting on a long train ride home and he happens to be getting off the same stop as you. Sebastian is a dancer, originally born in Austria, and teaches at a dance company in Harlem. You tell him that you took a modern jazz class in high school but never had the mind-body coordination to keep up with eight counts of uncomfortable turns and fouettes. Tripled in delight by your stories, he doesn’t laugh at you; instead, he smiles. Demetri is an architect originally from Greece. He mentions that he has always been inspired by his childhood memories of visiting Athens and recounting the cracked details of Corinthian pillars, yet the way he talks to you with the undetected Greek accent— about pillars and his love for ancient detail— is without lavish accounts and quite Doric. Simple and you like that. And Julio. Julio owns a travel agency and is originally from Saragosa, Spain. Everything he talks about has nothing to do with traveling. But he opens doors for you, he carries your borrowed library books, he let’s you have the first cup freshly brewed in the morning.
Like a trisyllabic harmony, they are three moments away from kissing you.
Head-pierced by the overlapping of stories, the intersection of moments, the overhead of memory; the first thing you remember about him is just his name.