fixations of childhood, obsessions of adulthood

Do you remember when I was in middle school and so obsessed with John that I created an imaginary friend named Jay who looked just like him? He was like my mind’s replacement. I think I said he was twenty-three (much older than I was at the time but still tame, although inwardly I wished he were older) and had blond hair and green eyes, but I could never keep track of the eye color, so sometimes they were blue instead. I imagined he walked with me when I went out, and he slept beside me with one arm draped around me. I never thought I was starving for romantic affection, but I was, and desperate for a man to accept my obsession. I don’t know why. I don’t know when it started. Back when I was eight years old, I fell in love with a forty-year-old singer from American Idol, and I don’t think that was the first time. I loved the Doctor because he was nine hundred years old. I loved Motorcycle Man, the 33-year-old from my church. I was absolutely dumbstruck by every single male pastor and teacher and counselor I ever had, so I kept up with ten-page journal entries about every single one of them and I gazed at them, chest aching, from across the campfires of youth group retreats. I ought to burn all the journals I kept before ninth grade. At least after ninth grade I began to learn to hide my obsession.
At high school graduation, I proceeded down the line of teachers with outstretched hands to shake, and instead, I hugged all the ones I loved the most, and the one I’m too scared to name said “thank you for everything, Emily” and when I sat down I realized they could not see me the same way after this. In adulthood, everyone is the same. But the way I love men is divisive.
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Superpowers

“If you could pick any superpower, what would it be?”

When I was a kid, I had so many good reasons
to become invisible.
First and foremost, I could sneak
into anywhere I wanted,
i.e. Disneyland, without paying.
That doesn’t seem so important anymore.

If I could be invisible now,
I wouldn’t go to Disneyland.
I’d crawl into the backseat of your car
and examine the tiny, thin hairs
sprouting from the back
of your neck.

I know what Romeo would pick.
He’d be a shapeshifter.
I remember reading the line
during freshman year
that everybody in class laughed at;
the line in which Romeo
wishes he were a glove
upon Juliet’s hand.
If I could shapeshift,
I wonder how it would feel
to shift into the wind
and let my vaporous form
sift through the dead leaves
resting on your front porch.

Often, it seems that my
physical presence slaughters
the artistry of observation.
Isn’t it true that humans can
never truly observe?
Scientific studies are impure
because we make an omnipresent
impact on the world around us.
If I weren’t really here,
perhaps my fantasies
would evolve into something
that made more sense.

You ask what my superpower would be.
Such a question
remained meaningless until it
emerged from your mouth.
You ask, and, briefly, I consider
the possibility of mind-reading.
And I chastise myself.
How perverse am I
to consider ever escaping the pure
and human cage of ignorance?
You are not meant
to be read so easily.

Could I shape-shift?
And if I could,
could I be reduced to a pencil on paper
that does nothing but
draw you, erase you, draw you,
and erase you, and draw you,
until you disappear?

Obsessions

I’m eating Captain Crunch at midnight and reflecting on the ways I’m like a mussel, or a snail, clinging to whatever I can. I’m thinking about a particular sensation that comes over me when I’m given too much time to think. It feels like I’m drifting away, somehow, mentally, and I ground myself again by grabbing hold of the thought of something that brings me comfort.

I have the feeling I have some sort of mental disorder. I’m sure I’m not like anyone I’ve met. I’ve asked most of my friends about it, and they relate to a certain degree, but never entirely. I have such an obsessive personality. I’m afraid of it.

I’m talking creepy. I used to write letters in my journal to my youth pastor. They were sometimes ten pages long. I kept anything he gave me. I religiously recorded every word he bestowed upon me. Anywhere he touched me burned with holy oil and I thought of him like an angel and a saint and a savior and a God, and I think I’m not quite describing this well enough. I’m not sure I could employ any words extreme enough to describe it. I’m ashamed of it. I cried if I had to miss a church service because it meant I was missing an opportunity just to look at him, to glance at him across the room. I don’t know why I didn’t realize then how weird it was. I guess I always figured everyone felt the same way but they were too ashamed to admit it.

It wasn’t just my youth pastor. It was nearly every adult male in my life. I say “was,” but it hasn’t stopped. Authority figures: youth pastors, teachers, leaders, actors, etc. I hate trying to describe this because it’s so difficult, and because I’ve built up so much self-loathing because of it. I can’t understand it. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been made fun of for it. I know exactly why I have, though. Because it’s fucking creepy. And annoying as hell. But I cannot help it. I can’t. I’ve tried.

It used to just be male authority figures (two of my youth pastors, one of my head pastors, three of my history teachers, one youth leader, one creative writing teacher), but now it’s more. It’s actors and fictional characters. It’s John Barrowman and Zachary Quinto and Gillian Anderson and Mads Mikkelsen and P!nk. It’s Spock and Kirk, Jenny and Vastra, Captain Jack and Ianto, Furiosa and Max, Dean and Castiel, Maleficent and Aurora, Shepard and Liara. I could go on, because it doesn’t really stop. It doesn’t really let go of me. When I listen to the thrum of my existence and my soul, I hear them.

It’s normally a whole cocktail of people. I’ve got a hat of names to draw from, thoughts to choose from to distract me from whatever it is I’m distracting myself from (I haven’t figured it out yet). It’s hard to tell who or what I’ll be obsessing over on a given day. Recently it’s been a girl from my English class who I can barely even call my friend and whose wide smile fills me with such incredible white-hot frothing bubbly glee that my chest tightens and my skin feels clear and my soul is scraped free of sin. I could relate to you, in painstaking detail, every occasion I’ve made contact with her over the last four years, because my memory is crazy good and because I am frantically obsessed with her.

When I was a freshman, I had the hugest crush on this girl (who’s now my best friend). She made me realize I liked girls, actually. And I remembered for years every time she touched me. I remembered almost everything she said to me, even if I didn’t write it down in my journal. It was because I cleared out everything but her. I filtered reality through the shape of her body, the color of her Irish skin, the freckle in her eye, and the masculine quality of her voice.

Obviously, there are some benefits to being so fucking obsessed with people. For one thing, it makes my days a lot more interesting. It gives me something to write about, to think about, to live about. But also, I’m really afraid that nobody will love me the way I love them. I think it’s probably impossible. And I know this is unhealthy. Very unhealthy. Destructive to relationships, possibly. It gives things a weird tint. It makes me overly anxious. Clearly, something will go wrong if I spend every waking moment of my life reflecting on my latest interaction with someone I’ve barely gotten the chance to know.