bad taste 

When you cry in the Target parking lot, I hold your hand through the phone.

My high school crush adds me on Instagram.  He once told me he knew the way to other dimensions, asked me to meet him after school to meditate.  He said we could find each other in these other, special worlds, and I wondered why he didn’t want me in real life.

You post a glittery meme about mental health—a cartoon salt shaker smiles, hugs a weeping pepper mill.

I pay an up charge for oat milk in my latte; in other words I am paying for the way I was born.

I have a bad taste in my mouth.  I suck on lemons.  You tell me it will rot my teeth, but I am desperate.  I need the relief more than your approval.  

I want to say the clouds look like a mistake, but instead I vow—to keep in touch, to reach out more, to be better, to be more kind, to work on myself, to inherit the earth.

My yoga teacher speaks to us about unconditional positive regard.  A therapist must show complete support and acceptance of a person no matter what they say or do.  Us yogis must surrender to the mat on which we practice.  I take a child’s pose and consider what it might be like to love myself as if I were already whole.

No one is friendly anymore.  No one likes to talk on the phone.  I send you a text and you reply with an ice cream cone.

I pass a Massage Envy and I envy everyone inside.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” you say.  You once got so high, you told me you could see the skin of the moon.

Studies show that observing fish in an aquarium can greatly reduce anxiety.  My family kept koi fish in a manmade pond for most of my childhood, and yet I still need mood stabilizers to get me through the day.

A friend of a friend reposts a message.  Us women need to stop expecting so much from each other.  We are all fighting our own demons and should not have so many requirements for friendship to exist.  I feel wrong for all the times I’ve relied on my friends, for all the times I couldn’t rely on myself.

If you park at the liquor store you can walk to the Farmer’s Market.  You can sign a petition and buy your organic kelp noodles all on the same block.  If you duck under the yellow tape, you will see two men sharing a crack pipe.

I see a show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.  The images make me dizzy but the narration tells the audience that we are all made of stardust.  Every cell, every fiber, every strand of hair was formed from galaxies exploding.  The universe is still expanding, cooling as it grows.  The show ends with a woman holding a glowing orb.  She says it’s up to us, which story of the world we shall tell ourselves next.

Brittany Ackerman is a writer from Riverdale, New York.  Her work has been featured in Electric Literature, Jewish Book Council, Lit Hub, Entropy, The Los Angeles Review, No Tokens, Hobart, Cosmonauts Ave, and more. Her first collection of essays entitled The Perpetual Motion Machine was published with Red Hen Press in 2018, and her debut novel The Brittanys is out now with Vintage. This is her Substack. 

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