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Zack Moy
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Alright, this is me

Prose, Poetry5 min read

“I’m just a couple blocks away,” she muttered, at least seven blocks ago. It’s as cold as it should be tonight, but last week’s surprise heat wave left us both unprepared, our speech in slow motion from the teeth chattering or the Monday margaritas. Perhaps both.

This is a first date as predictably positive as it gets for me, covering every subject from family, occupation, relationships, and dreams, to the end of the Earth due to irreversible climate change, to everyone’s ultimate & fateful friend, Death. We called our corner of the bar “the deep abyss” but it was full and beaming light.

My therapist convinced me I’ve “put in the work” to be walking back home this almost-stranger, unpacked the past as if it were practice for nights like tonight, but that work has been prepared, completed, and graded all by myself. Is it enough to work on yourself by yourself? Or should self-actualization require at least one witness? Or two participants?

I look up and we’re next to a classic Brooklyn co-op building. A small stoop. Beautiful windows. Very prominent fire escapes. When did the illusion of safety become so iconic?

“Alright, this is me,” she announces.

Perhaps for relief from the cold or comfort from the conversation itself, we hug a long goodbye. It’s just enough time to wonder how much work to put in there is left

And there is work to do left. The next time I see my therapist, it’s all data-driven.

“Zack, if you were trying to diagnose a problem at work, how would you do it?” “Well, I’d gather all the data I needed into a spreadsheet, clean it up, visualize it, and let the data tell a story.” “Okay, Zack. Why don’t you do that with your dating life?”

And then it dawned on me. That my therapist has given me permission to—no, assigned me to— put every woman who’s shown me a sign of affection into a spreadsheet. Clean it up. Visualize it, and let the data tell a story.

Well from 2013 to 2022, I was off dating apps. How did I do?

  • 8% were from work
  • 17% were connections from college and
  • 75% were friends of friends.
  • 66% were physically “my type.”
  • The most common first names started with C, G, L, and N for some reason,
  • and 41% have something simply labeled in the data “enjoys the darkness,” (as an aside, I do like my darkness front & center)

But we’re missing the point here, Zack! Let the data tell a story. And there it is. Sorted by time the trendline is impossible to miss. A whopping 70% didn’t live in my city. Didn’t even live in my timezone

And then my therapist asks me, “why do you think you chase love that has an easy out?” “I don’t know,” I say. She says, “if home was always on fire, you’re accustomed to having an exit plan. You always look for fire escapes. / And then you look for the next beginning”

I’m obsessed with beginnings I only know the intros to songs on piano. Enough to impress, but after the first 16 bars my fingers freeze and I forget how it ends

I’m obsessed with beginnings I bounce from hobby to hobby, hyper fixating on my latest craze after 7 hours of YouTubing and 18 newly followed Instagram accounts. The pure joy of starting a new chapter

I’m obsessed with beginnings I memorize and quote The opening line of a book That first shot of a movie That first lyric in a song Beginnings feel something like home. They feel like redemption. They feel like Truth.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Anna Karenina) “I owe everything to George Bailey” (It’s a wonderful life) “Look / if you had one shot / or one opportunity / To seize everything you ever wanted / in one moment”

I’m obsessed with beginnings. I love buying new plants and setting them up in my apartment, and I quickly forget throwing out their dried carcasses when I do it again. As if this time I actually learned how to water someone else.

I’m obsessed with beginnings because the genre isn’t defined yet. And I can pick and choose how I want my stories to go. Adjusting to a new normal affords me all the benefits of being a beginner and none of the risks of failure. After all, I was raised to collect participation medals.

And I go from beginning to beginning to beginning, an ADHD fueled rampage of attention until the next “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Beginnings tell a story in and of themselves. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Beginnings often don’t make sense.. “It’s Britney, bitch”

Once upon a time, I was a series of cold opens from Brooklyn 99. Comedic intros of all the characters you know and love. You won’t find me 2-3 minutes in the microwave, flipping halfway, I’m only elaborate food prep. I love to buy new electronics, but you will never see me replace the batteries. I am 100% salutations (But I only use Aloha, Ciao, Aleikum, or Shalom ) Because being Obsessed with beginnings, also means being obsessed with endings.

So how do I stop the cycle? Stop bouncing from one new beginning to another and focus. Close all the tabs in my mind Breath deeply. Alexa, turn Off the TV Shred my half completed “how to get your life back” to do lists Maybe stop feeling like a spectator in my own life. Siri, turn on do not disturb. Light a candle. Watch the fire burn slowly.

This time will be different. I open Hinge for the first time in nearly a decade. “How about Margaritas on Monday?”

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