The Object of Somebody's Affection
Updated: Jan 10
"The Object of Somebody's Affection"
I’ve always been the one to memorize conversations, to keep them saved on my phone so I can read them over and over again. I’ll put on the song you said was your favorite and think only of you as I lie in my bed at 1 in the morning, listening to the same lyrics that apparently mean so much to you and wonder how you interpret them, whether you can empathize with the experiences so melancholically sung about and, better yet, if you listen and think of me.
I’ve always been the one to remember which conversations we’ve had before, how you talked about having once been in a hot air balloon and how your family is Irish; I remembered the latter specifically because I’ve always considered Irish men to be the epitome of my type, and that confirmation from you only solidified my hypothesis that we were meant to know each other.
I’ve always been the one to remember what shirt you were wearing when I said you looked the most like a bad-ass motorcyclist. Even your shallow brain couldn’t care enough to remember the compliment I gave you and deliberately choose that piece of clothing for our date.
I’ve always been the one to remember because I always cared more.
And then I found him.
I can’t explain to you how wonderful it feels to have someone really look at you, to have someone really stare at you. It’s the best feeling in the world when a man remembers something you’ve said, when he asks you to expand upon something you briefly mentioned in a past conversation because he has been grappling in his brain these last few days the kind of person you truly are, trying to figure you out, caring to do so.
That stare, I hadn’t ever gotten it before I met him; I had only wanted it, to render someone speechless, to just be able to look at me with so much love and adoration in his eyes. I’d been used to these kinds of blank stares--maybe smiles, but fake, performative ones, only manifested on their faces because they wanted something from me, usually followed by a leaning in that breaks that intimate physical separateness where eyes are the only method of communication. But he has a face that just stares, so intently and so honestly, perfectly content right where he is. And I have to smile because it’s just so foreign to me.
Sometimes, he’ll just go silent, and he won’t make any indication of wanting to speak. I’ll just be talking, and he’ll just stop and stare and not say anything. It’s intimidating; I don’t know what to do. Should I keep talking? There’s going to be an awkward silence if he doesn’t say anything back. And so, unable to continue with my thoughts, I just say, “what!” And he’ll smile and I’ll smile back and put my head down, facing the fancy table cloth because I can’t stare at him the way he so effortlessly does at me. I always resort to shamelessly smiling, and I can’t handle it sometimes.
“I hope you become addicted to saying things and having them matter to someone.” I always remember that quote from Waitress: The Musical, a plea from Jenna to her unborn child. Throughout my life, I’ve been the person to whom the words mattered, going back through texts to get to know them better, to attempt to match in my head these physical beings to their tastes in music, their majors, and their favorite movies. I remember every anecdotal detail they told me because each story meant something to me.
But I never really had the same done to me. I never had someone ask me about politics with only the most academic of intentions, trying to pick my brain apart. I never had someone match me with celebrities I remembered him of, which person my smile most resembled. I never had someone attempt to mirror my vernacular, the quirky slang I have built for myself all throughout these years that no one cared to imitate or ask whether it was a Los Angeles thing or just a “me,” a “Sophia,” thing.
And I think that’s when I realized for the first time how nice love can be, how it can just make you feel the world. Before, it’s always been this insecure thing, this anxiety-inducing reality once it makes itself known, this persistent drilling in my mind that I must continue to change myself for their constant attention. Finally, I felt secure and loved and admired right where I was. And now, I can’t get his eyes off my mind. They’re always there, looking back at me when I feel the most unloveable, a reminder that someone can see such beauty in me that it makes them want to stop speaking.
And so, after years of seeking out affection from other objects, I finally became the object of somebody’s affection.