It is what she calls a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store. Louis Armstrong put it best in “It’s a Wonderful World” when he sang, “I see friends shaking hands, sayin ‘how do you do?’ / They’re really sayin’, ‘I love you.’”
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As two straight women with no desire to get married, we are not against marriage per se. We’re not callous and repressed man-haters. We’re not bitter about ex-boyfriends who cheated or tried to teach us the correct way to pour laundry detergent (ok, well maybe a little bitter about that last one). We’re not even necessarily uncomfortable with the institution’s arguable gender expectations and socio-political history. We just don’t much care whether we’re married, or not. But governments and corporations do.
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The stress comes, Marder theorizes, from the kind of personal versioning that is so common in analog life — the fact that you (probably) behave slightly differently when you’re with your mom than you do when you’re with your boss, or with your boyfriend, or with your dentist. And it comes, even more specifically, from the social nuance of that versioning behavior colliding with the blunt social platform that is The Facebook. Behaviors like swearing and drinking and smoking, the study suggests, are behaviors that you (might) do with friends — but not (probably) with your boss. And, more subtly, language that you might use with your friends — in-jokes, slang, references to Breaking Bad — probably won’t track when you’re not with your friends. The awareness of that discrepancy — Facebook’s tendency to disseminate even highly targeted social interactions — leads to stress.
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Chad, my boyfriend, types to me from the Hyatt on New Jersey Avenue, “I am hiv positive.” We study the screen together, 1,426 miles apart. The cursor of my chat window blinks for me. I’m not stunned, or even much scared, really; definitely not sickened, repulsed. I am more overcome by the simple fear that the chat window will time out, that my Internet connection will lapse, that he will think, alone in a computer lab on the other side of the country, that I have closed out. So I type in a rush, “That’s OK,” and then add, “Really.”
I’m not sure he entirely believed me, then, but he came back.* * *
We lie crossways in unfettered sheets and discarded clothes, tangled so deeply I don’t know where my arms end and his hands begin. Late August 2010. It’s hot, almost insufferably stuffy; I remember not caring.
Jesus Christ are we broke. Jesus Christ, we are out of condoms. Pay day is four days away, there is no food in the pantry, and there is less than 10 dollars in the bank account. I don’t remember us being hard, actually, but I must have known it was coming, because I remember saying, “I mean, we don’t know for sure. We could take a chance.”
He said, “I could never put you at risk like that.”
I remember how much that made me respect him.
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An eye-opening account of dating someone with HIV.