When I Say Loving Me Is Like Eating Cherry Tomatoes

by Cameron Chiovitti

                         After Hanif Abdurraqib

What I mean is I have always hated raw tomatoes of any kind, but specifically cherry tomatoes. They are so small you could pop them in your mouth, like green grapes, but they are not sweet. Once, my friend found green grapes at the grocery store that tasted like cotton candy, and our older sisters and their friends learned to freeze the grapes like ice cubes for an even more refreshing snack. Cherry tomatoes do not provide that kind of nostalgia. You can crunch, and the juice will flood your senses. The seeds will lodge in your throat and suffocate you. The shell is softer than an apple, kind of like the texture of a bell pepper, but just mushy enough to feel soggy in your mouth before you’ve even chewed.

What I mean is when I was twelve my friend nicknamed me tomate because of a picture we took together. That was the year I blushed every day. It was probably because I had the biggest crush on a girl in our class who started ignoring me when she found out. The intricacies of teenage friendships have always confused me. When am I too acidic to eat? When do I not take up enough space in a plate? Am I only desirable when I am sliced open and salted? I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but I could not rip myself in half, I’m sorry. Instead, I cut my thighs open, and I salted each gash, just to make sure they would not heal.

What I mean is I am an all or nothing kind of person. Once, I started a crystal collection, and I spent all my government money on new pieces. Once, I was horny, so I met two strangers in the park by my house and we had a threesome, in the dark, and it was my first time having sex with cis men. Once, I couldn’t balance work and school, so I tried to kill myself. Actually, that was more than once. That was a lot. I guess you could say out of the options of all or nothing, I often choose the nothing.

What I mean is I’ve never met someone who felt like cherry tomatoes were just okay. It’s either love me or love me. I guess, there is also hate me, but I don’t like to make that option available. I’m scared too many people will take it.