Like toast that falls jelly side down or the chemical compounds in effervescent streams of diet-diet drinks, you do not nourish me. Together we are plastic fast food containers that bubble out of their shape when microwaved. Intensity erodes our forms, anything contained inside us soapsuds out.
It’s a sad sort of magic how food and fucking spoil in similar ways.
I identify with the strength of my hunger, eating ravenously and secretly – squirreling food and pocketing leftovers to funnel down my throat later. I eat Ma-Po tofu – numbing, aromatic, tender – with a giant spoon because I don’t want to miss any flavors seeping down my throat; flames sit on top of water – chopsticks split with their fine hairs are abandoned next to me. I play, here comes the airplane with myself because I want to be taken care of. Talking gently to a reflection is how I practice self-care.
The me that lives in the mirror is the sort of person that spills green grass hits by over-packing the bowl, sputtering like an old jalopy. With smoke like a buckled beard, I gulp honeyed plumes of grey ribbons. After, red-eyed and fine-souled, I flow amber Vermont maple syrup directly into my mouth from a bottle in the fridge – empty except for condiment and sauces and syrups. Forever a child, I never learned sweetness in moderation. Sweetness in rivers pouring inside me until I’m fucking sick from it. Liquid flames and tributaries of sucrose fill up my body, making me dense.
The emptiness of you is packaged pockets of hunger that swill and rise – being buoyed by nothingness is how you float. The void is a carefree comfort – your body is inflatable.
On your 33rd birthday, I bought you a Mylar balloon that said, “Congrats! It’s a boy!” and a key lime flavored soda because I couldn’t find the key lime pie you requested in any of the grocery stores near me. I thought it was cute, but you weren’t amused and I ended up drinking the soda later that night somewhere away from you.
The next year, I taught myself how to bake. Made the pie. The old Mylar balloon deflated and dead stuffed in some forgotten corner of your room, we ate the tart gelatin insides and it did not embrace me – it did not delight you. Rinds in our teeth, the sour coated my tongue and I tried to spit away the citrus feelings in your sink. Leaving later that day, I felt like the balloon. Pie people, nothing between us is nutritious.
Someday shortly after, I drained packet after packet of soy sauce into a bowl since I was high and thought that there were too many in the fridge. Soy sauce made me feel something. I tried to slurry soy sauce and olive oil into a something-sauce to coat my insides, like a medicine, but the two would not marry and the soy sauce sat on top of the oil like a kiss – touching but not connecting. You grabbed the bowl while I was trying to scry the future from the tide of liquid and tossed it into the sink, magic divination works in mysterious ways. Everything escaped down the drain.
All throughout my childhood, my mother warned me to not open plastic polypropylene snack bags with my teeth but I never listened. As an adult, I still use my scalpel incisors to open those closed doors but it stings like lemon juice in papercuts, and I wonder what from our shared empty meals has eroded my once vampire teeth into cement gullies keeping the ocean at bay. It hurts.
This hurt causes headaches, and I swallow pills one at a time, which you said was a funny way to do it – but how do other people do it? The pills slush in the wetness of my body but heal nothing. They don’t even puncture the expanse of barrenness.
Outside of your home, I watch the procession of garbage go to the trash truck and the maw of the truck eats the Mylar balloon like a doomed sea turtle. The truck breaks the colorful balloon apart with teeth that look like the ladyfingers no one wanted leftover in the beige of an office breakroom. The sun beats down on our red heads while we smoke and the truck eats, and meanwhile, I just want to taste salt and hot sauce and feel the good way that whiskey-drunk and smoking feel at first. Tastes and repetitive motion fill gaps in my sternum where all the loneliness is replaced with somethingness. The truck cheerfully pulls away.
I heard somewhere that lonely Bolivian frogs are always looking for love. Buggy-eyed, I’m a frog – not particularly particular. I’m always looking for love or something that feel like the good feelings from food from my childhood: how you become full and comforted even if it’s from lollipops shaped like jewelry or sour sweetness from gummies at the corner store. Maybe this is why I become attached to every stray cat that scrounges in our garbage, looking for fullness in leftovers, discards, with the hope that whatever remains in the emptiness of Tidy bags is enough to fill the void inside.