It’s not my fault, and you might think that would be comforting.

It’s not anything I did or didn’t do. It’s not because I wore that dress that one time and my panty line showed. It’s not because I ate in front of him a few times or ran away from him at dinner once or ignored him once at lunch. It’s not because I sat next to him and was too aggressive or because I was never quite aggressive enough about what I felt.

It’s not because I performed hyper femininity poorly or because my response to him was too much performance and not enough real girl.

He was never going to walk away from the model thin blonde girls with Ivy League degrees so he could be with a fat woman with a degree from a college he’s never heard of.

I can live with that. I can breathe. Because I didn’t fail in some ineffable way.

It’s not my fault.

I have a different romantic script than the script he has, and. My script said I had to let him go, for the good of our upwardly mobile community. I fought for a while. Then, I could fight no more.

There are some things you just can’t fight.

Summer love is seductive. It convinces your that anything is possible.

Colonialism is seductive. It convinces you that you can start over.

I already made my choices, and they were bad ones. This society had already taught me where I belong in the world that belongs to him. Society had already taught him the entire world belongs to him.

I didn’t want him to lose that feeling. I’ve never had it personally. But it looks pretty great.

Sometimes he looks lonely but I’m sure it’s just how the light plays across his face. I’m sure that is just my mistake.

He would have left me anyway. For one of those girls. He would have told me it was my lack of confidence or my despair that pushed him away. He would have chalked my analysis of his fat phobia and internalized antisemitism up to what he considers my insecurity.

He has never in his life realized that confidence comes from being told you are important. Security comes from knowing you are loved. Strip away those external forms of validation and what do you find? Someone more like me. Self-defeating and scared, all the time.

I wish I was one of those girls, too. But my parents taught me I was nothing, and then the rest of the world agreed. I never learned the talent of finding sponsors or mentors or external support. I learned to do it on my own. Stitch myself up after another fight I lost. Forge on.

He was born to win. Everyone told him he would. Not me.

We are running a race, all of us. Call it capitalism. Call it greed. We all start at the same place, it’s true. And it’s true that he is winning.

It’s true that he is winning, but other things are true as well. Most people are running this race without shoes. The boys cut across the girls’ lanes, but if the girls try that, we are punished, we lose a turn, or a leg. Sometimes the boys grab the girls around the waist and carry us away and when they return us to the race we are bloody and torn.

Some kids have parents screaming encouragement from the sidelines. Some parents yell advice. Some parents like mine yell threats and abuse. Some parents like mine periodically pluck us out of the race to force feed us cat shit or break our arms or worse. Other kids’ parents are not there at all, because they are working halfway around the world to earn money to feed their families. Or because they are dead.

Some kids tease and taunt the other kids. Others rip at our uniforms or kick out a leg to trip us. The rich kids are allowed to. The poor kids are not.

Some of us run the race in wheelchairs or with failing hearts. Some run with migraines and coughs and the other kinds of chronic ailments that come from chronic trauma. Many of us run until we cannot run any longer.

Often there are barriers. Buying a car, taking out a loan. Getting a job. He puts in his boy voucher or his white voucher or his rich kid voucher. Most of us are not so lucky. We have to stop for advice, for someone to co-sign, we have to take a more circuitous route. We fall further and further behind. The more we falter, the more the crowds abuse us. This too is part of the race. Hating those who go too slow is just part of the process.

Many of us are fat. The rapes and the circuitous routes and the despair and the injustice all make us fat. The indignity.

If we are fat, the officials proclaim, it is okay to hate us out loud. To make jokes. To make billboards out of jokes. It is okay to throw things.

The boy is way ahead of me. The boy is winning.

He thinks this is where his worth lies. I wonder if he thinks he is a saint to tolerate a partner as slow as me.

He wants to celebrate his win. I just want to go to sleep on his chest and wake up and love him. I have not won anything but I am tired. I am so tired.

He is nearing the finish line. I am wondering what will happen if I refuse to finish the race.

She will be there at the finish line waiting for him. I will be collapsing on the track, screaming, does anyone have something for the pain?

He will not look over. No one will come over. You know women. Always exaggerating our pain.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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