the first time i fell in love, i was four, and it was with a boy named zeus. he was my cousin, and i knew we were meant to be because both our names started with the letter ‘z’. zara and zeus. zaraandzeus. we were almost one name, one person – but he was – bad.. he was greedy and selfish, he’d ignore me when the rest of the boys were around, he wouldn’t give me a turn on the playstation. but when he was sad and alone, when his parents would fight and he and his mother would come stay with us, we’d make tents out of the sheets and watch movies, or use the laundry buckets to play pretend.

the first time i fell in love, i did it properly: like a fool. and there have been many times since then, but i wonder if it’s even the same anymore, if it’s not a more diluted – experience? emotion? phenomenon? what is love?

i think it might be some kind of a knowledge, or mode of being, an acquired skill almost?

i fell in love with another bad guy in high-school. he was a couple grades ahead of me but had failed a grade so he was super old (considering – i was fourteen, he was eighteen) which meant mature which meant hot. a few days after i’d met him, i was having lunch at my grandparents’ house, and we’re all just eating and talking and my grandpa looks at me and says, “what’s wrong grandpa? are you in love?”

how did he know? did he see something? hear something? detect, sense the pheromones i was emitting with my infatuation and horniness? maybe he saw my eyes rolling, distracted, looking around but not really here, some of me sitting, physically, on the chair, nodding its head, the rest of me gone, off in some fantasy or memory of me and him sucking face behind a giant truck – his name was also zeus. i got in a lot of trouble for loving him.

and yet, i felt compelled to do it, knowing the consequences. i’d be grounded, i’d lose my phone privileges, but i’d always find a way. i was desperate. love had made me desperate. it compelled me to steal my mother’s phone while she was sleeping or sneak out to the garden to steal the neighbor’s wifi or wait for recesses to meet him behind the school.

i found out after he graduated that he’d been cheating on me with almost everyone – like literally any girl he saw and would let him have some. so i guess he wasn’t cheating so much as he just didn’t consider our relationship monogamous. or a relationship. to be fair, we didn’t really date, we’d just meet places and then hook up behind them. i don’t know why i considered it a relationship.



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