This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2019


jaye simpson

Nookaa starts her new job in seventeen minutes and still decides to take some time deciding what androgynous items of clothing to wear, responds to a text from her partner to “talk” later that day, and also reminds White Boy #326 where the closest movie rental place is, right on Commercial Drive. In the cab she wonders why she would let a cishet white man into her life again, why Nookaa even keeps replying to his messages on Tinder and gives her number so freely to him. Some perverse longing perhaps, some ingrained conditioning to always aspire to be some white man’s wife. One day she will unpack that and today is definitely not that day.

Her boss asks if she goes by a different name and what her pronouns are. Nookaa smiles. Tomorrow she will wear a dress and a pale turquoise lipstick as celebration. An ex-partner texts her: Hello. How are you? She can already tell from the use of a period instead of a comma and lack of frog emojis they also wish to “talk.” She calculates capacity: first time in sixteen months working, an already scheduled “talk” later, and a first date with a cishet white man tonight. She sucks her teeth frustrated and responds: hey! srry, can’t talk—definitely not today—started a new job. She has already muted the conversation and begins making a lengthy work to-do list.

After work her partner and her end up breaking up in Grandview Park, only to end up at the pub on Gravely for Wing Wednesday. The server addresses them in gender-neutral terms. They laugh about how they never defined what their relationship would look like. As they walk towards Broadway, Nookaa hugs her now-ex farewell, hustles back to her apartment just off the Drive. She can’t help but reflect on how in the past three months she went from having three partners to none. She thinks something she was doing may be wrong and she will eventually have to unpack that, but tonight is definitely not that night. She texts White Boy #326 that she’s far too tired for anything else other than just the movie.

White Boy #326 ends up being 15 minutes late, but he’s as charming in person as he is on Tinder. Surprising. During the movie Nookaa asks if she can rest her head on his chest, hear his lurching heartbeat whenever a monster jumpscares them. After the movie, he holds her, breathes her in, his finger sprawling runes across Nookaa’s back. Their kisses are slow, a tangle of his nose and her septum ring; his ragged moans taste like broccoli she notes which makes sense as he works at a vegan restaurant out on Main Street. They have messy sex on Nookaa’s white roommate’s red corduroy couch. They talk throughout, licking each other up in a frenzy of teenage-esque exploration. Before he leaves a little after one in the morning, they kiss deeply in the hallway and he whispers that he hopes to do this again and Nookaa doesn’t believe him. She knows she will eventually unpack that, but tonight is not that night. She puts her hair up and showers. Remembers just before bed to take her spironolactone and estrace.
She crawls back into bed and sighs herself to sleep.

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