Swipe Right


An open letter to the girl in the dorm room directly above mine:

You, who have woken me from many a well-deserved nap,
who have made it impossible to study, who are slowly
driving me out of my already
are my only certain Valentine this February 14th, and you are
too busy
to realize it.

You are probably working on an exercise regimen.
I wonder if you also choose to eat salads,
and if you feel bad about all the jumping.
If you think the more you jump now,
the less you’ll have to jump later.
I think my immigrant parents came here with similar mindsets.
I think my parents have since regretted it.

I remember the day I, too, exercised
(day, singular)

I ordered some roller skates online yesterday— you would love them.
White leather with sharp eyelets,
crisp speed-hooks
and an adjustable toe stop.
Imagine how much more annoying
You’d be in those?

I realized, after living
with the exact same P.O. box
for four long, solitary years
I have finally
learned my address.


Because it’ll be someone else’s in less than three months.

Still, I relish the small things.
The fact that I finally had the courage
To correct the guy at the Post Office
When he butchered my brown-ass name.

The fact that he will lift the box and wonder what’s within
And his imagination will likely run wild.
But you and I know— it is only my leather skates.
Harmless to all but my own brown ass,
who is currently sporting a bruised wrist,
and an even-more-bruised ego.

I never belonged to a clique. I was always the jumper of the group.
Perhaps that’s why I’m covered in bruises.

But I’m not entirely without fault.
For the past several months, I [the victim, who hates to feel victimized]
have been allegedly throwing a tennis ball at the ceiling in order to discourage you [the perpetrator, who is probably still completely oblivious]
from jumping.
This is working as successfully as you might expect it to
[as the knots under my hijab will prove].

Lately I’ve been hitting yellow lights only.
I grit my teeth when I see them change, and I wonder what would happen
if it turned red with me in the middle of the intersection
And then I think about intersections.
I think about the collisions that have made me,
And I think of you— the girl upstairs—
who has made me.

“Closing time” by Semisonic is my favorite song.
But I didn’t know that until yesterday, when I was forced
to stop in an intersection, and my life
flashed before my eyes, and I realized that I probably
won’t ever know your name,
but that I know, all too well
that the concept of “closing time”
doesn’t exist in your mind.

It is entirely silent in my room most days.
Silent until my inner voice is screaming.
Silent until you begin your jumping.

At times I think you are extension of me—
the voice pounding ceaselessly on the confines of my skull asking why I’m still here.
Why I haven’t finished.

In the 11th grade I heard Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” for the first time.
I have never desired to jump in that manner
[Though I can’t say I haven’t briefly considered other methods.]
The song helped encourage me to consider it
[It’s an excruciatingly bad song.]

Was that too much?

I struggle, at all times, with being too much.

I’ve been living in this dorm complex for four years and I wish at times
that I could turn back time
Because no matter where I choose to go next year,
I’ll be on my own.

There are places that I really really want to go,
but I think my problem is so far,
none of them outweigh my desire to really really stay.

I wrote you, girl above me, this horrible poem
Dedicated an entire column to it
Because your RA couldn’t get you to stop jumping.
And I thought I could take matters into my own hands.
But I’ve realized now that it isn’t about the jumping.
It was never about the jumping.

Lately I’ve been dreaming about moving to New York.
Literally, dreaming.
I just pack my bags and escape in the night with no regard for school,
no regard for family or friends.
no regard for a summa cum laude degree.
I’m standing at the top
of the tallest skyscraper
in a cool breeze.
I am free
And despite the excess of jumping in my waking life—
despite your own intrusion, and my constant awareness of it—
I don’t jump.