This week, a college student snoops in their ex’s email, and finds something they wish they hadn’t: 21, single, Brooklyn.
11 a.m. I wake up with both my legs over S, our bodies crammed uncomfortably close on a twin mattress in the floor. It’s only been a week in this apartment but each day it feels slightly less strange sharing a bed with someone I don’t want to have sex with.
We met on our gap year abroad. She goes to school in New York and we spend our summers together. S and I desperately wanted to be in Brooklyn, but could only afford a one-bedroom. For some reason we thought this living situation could be cute.
11:45 a.m. Just finishing my morning pages — I love that term, it’s so stupid. A new friend who gives impeccable advice with a glowing smile just started doing it, so now I am too. I’m not supposed to talk about what I write but I tell S everything because I have minimal self-control.
2:30 p.m. I’ve been interning at an arts studio since June. The studio director told me to work from home this afternoon. She’s quirkier in person than in our Zoom interview. I thought she would be an icy art-world queen but she’s just a strange one.
4 p.m. I pull S to a café down the street with me. On our walk I share more of what I wrote.
I tell her how each morning I feel her leg under mine and pretend it’s G’s and we’re in the Poconos again. I imagine it’s quarantine and our days are nothing but sex, Zoom class, sex, dinner, The Real Housewives of Potomac, and sex. I was dating him since September, and we ended things in the beginning of June. I tell S how much I’ve been missing him and need to stop spending every conversation romanticizing a man I can’t be with. A man who’s moved on from me and is spending his summer flirting his way into bed with a celebrity he has mutual friends with. While I spend mine trying to get into a healthy headspace to start estrogen. God we’re so Gen Z.
6 p.m. I’m signing out of my work email and into my personal one when I see the option to log in to another. G accidentally swapped computers with me for a week last winter break. I know I shouldn’t but I do. I find Zoom links. Receipts. Then a boarding pass.
He’s going to Germany?! I scream like a scorned woman. There’s no return ticket. He’s going to Germany for the rest of the summer and didn’t tell me?! I wonder if he’s there with the Gen-Z celebrity he’s trying to date. My stomach falls through my seat and onto the floor.
10 a.m. I pace outside our apartment, crying to S. I need the fresh air or I’ll suffocate. She tries to explain to me why it’s wrong, like really wrong, to log onto his email but I keep responding, is it really so wrong if I know he would be flattered?
Yes, obviously still yes. I ignore her because I want to believe I am the scorned woman.
4 p.m. Therapy. Sessions with Dr. N are somewhat productive for me. She may not coddle my obsessive thoughts but at least she has to listen to them.
Mostly I go because my parents wouldn’t support my transition without some form of psychiatric care. I’ll play along if it means they’ll pay for my facial-feminization surgery.
Dr. N believes in “radical resilience,” which I’m intrigued by but am certain I do not possess. I don’t think someone with radical resilience reads their ex’s emails.
9 p.m. I think about everything Dr. N has said to me and go to sleep.
10 a.m. I pay the housing deposit for my fall study-abroad program and pray the Delta variant doesn’t force me back to campus, back to G. I think my boobs will grow faster in another country.
2 p.m. I text my sister, I love you. She’s giving birth next week and lives far away; I wish I could be there.
5 p.m. On Instagram I scour fan pages of Gen-Z celebrity waiting for an update. Nothing.
7 p.m. S is sleeping at her boyfriend’s and I feel disgustingly co-dependent.
9 p.m. I drink straight tequila on the floor of my kitchen like I’m on Euphoria. Hunter Schafer is my Jesus.
9 a.m. Download Grindr because I am bored and horny. I’m surprised because I haven’t masturbated, let alone touched another body, in two weeks. Grindr’s been a fateful friend in my pursuit for emotionally detached sexual satisfaction since high school.
11 a.m. Finally get out of bed. I check Gen-Z celebrity’s fan pages meticulously to no avail. The thought of them hiding their love from me makes me feel more angry than ever. It’s also, somehow, alluring, and I get a little turned on thinking about them in a hotel in Europe together.
2 p.m. I show up to the artist’s studio in a crop top because I’m craving attention. An assistant with an MFA in painting and a knack for the Zodiac gives me a look. I blush and shy away because I’m embarrassed I look this good.
5:00 p.m. It’s a little cooler outside after work so I go for a run. I quickly discovered running in my neighborhood is not as lovely as in the suburbs. A lot of old factories.
8:30 p.m. I don’t feel well. S is at a wedding in Connecticut with her boyfriend and I wish she were here instead.
10 a.m. My sister hearts the message. I hope I can FaceTime her soon but she lives abroad, so it’s always tricky to coordinate.
2 p.m. On a deep dive to discover the truth I find so many pages of fake celebrity nudes. It’s a whole subculture.
5:30 p.m. L, a friend from school who lives in the East Village, asks to come over. I reply with an emphatic oh yes.
10:45 p.m. L arrives just in time. We watch the first episode of the Gossip Girl reboot.
11:45 p.m. We spend 30 minutes debriefing how much we hated it.
9 a.m. L has to go to work early so I wake up with her and make us coffee. I can’t help but pry. L knows G well and I think she has information. She tells me Gen-Z celebrity is not in Europe with him. I sigh and say okay, okay. She then tells me they all did shrooms together last weekend. When I tell you I gassssppppped.
11:30 a.m. L goes to work and I decide to do errands. I put on sweatpants and a baggy tee because this feels like my day of atonement and my midriff shouldn’t be showing …
11:50 a.m. Before I leave I quickly masturbate.
12:50 p.m. On the bus I play a podcast about chakras. I quickly realize I haven’t been paying nearly enough attention to my crown.
2:00 p.m. I thrift at a few stores to calm myself down. It’s basically the only thing I do these days.
7 p.m. I text my mom and tell her I want to come home. Maybe just for a night. It’s been a hard few days. I don’t go into greater detail. I never do.
9:30 a.m. S walks in the door from the wedding the moment I’m leaving the apartment. She is radiant and wide-eyed and I tell her I miss her and kiss her on the cheek.
11 a.m. I get an iced coffee and a croissant. I’m going home.
7 p.m. In my childhood bathroom. Closing my eyes, listening to my crown … Mom calls down for dinner.
8:15 p.m. An Impossible burger, no bun.
11 p.m. Masturbate to Grindr nudes on childhood sheets.