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"A Sensual Person" by Jessica Almereyda

I'm a sensual person and I know where you live. So when I'm walking in your direction on my way home from work, I fleetingly consider walking all the way to your place and getting there in just under an hour. I won’t be doing that because that would be weird and psycho – I do have limits. I don’t write continuously but here I am, turning down a corner.

What is it to be sensual? Surely not about pleasure or gratification – rather an attunement to frequencies of dispersed lust: through smell, sight, sound, taste, texture – maybe extrasensory perception but I don’t think I have that. It's psychogeographic, not pornographic. Not political or efficacious or Thingness.

I need headphones to dull any remembrance of your beauty and abrasiveness. Music enhances the wistfulness, though nothing fortifies yearning more than a good old fashioned cig. Smokers are very sensual. Stoners are just stoners.

I'm so sensual I can't stand it. Nor can I stand the sound of hand dryers. So loud and unnecessary. I let my hands drip dry. Crying in public is cathartic. Being told by a stranger from across the street – things will get better honey, things will get better, things will get better. Surely he knows that’s not true, just because you say it three times. Too far gone for improvement but no matter.

Senses currently in overdrive over a Macy's bag set down on a stoop with FREE inscribed on the front, packed with discarded yet neatly folded garments – all there for the taking. This moment of discovery is one to relish not resist.

I pull each item unabashedly from the bags. I don’t care who sees, though I’d be embarrassed to watch myself. This is not high-end stuff by any means, just delightfully practical. Their purchaser clearly liked to buy things in pairs, two high rise jeans of the same style in a different color. Choices that would be my choices if I didn’t restrain myself from paying for anything beyond food and booze and cigs. It seems the discardee even washed them before discarding them. I can smell the lavender softener, but I'm going to wash them again.

On my way to and from the laundromat, I pass by a dim lit bar you’d like, where I’d get you drunk on old fashioneds. I'd be wearing some of this new second-hand shit – this miraculous compensation for the price I paid for all that I can't have at any price.

My eerily irrational glee over free stuff is interrupted by a displaced notion of coming to see you, in your neighborhood.

Remember when you said – you know you’re moving here, right? That was all. I was to be nearby until such time you'd never want to see me again. And then a few months later you died without leaving a body behind and I had tried to wear something different every time I saw you hoping you would see me new even though. Even though I’m just walking.

Jessica Almereyda has work published in Fence, Hotel, Juked, and others. She's a contributing editor at The Ersatz Experience. Twitter (or X... whatever): jalmereyda


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