When Your Relationship Has An Expiration Date


my world, my words

It was laundry day—but that's a bad excuse. First dates usually involve fully intact pants. I met Matt* in a pair of old gardening jeans, a hole-dotted tee from my college radio stint, and skate shoes. We were both late, meeting close to 11:30 on a Tuesday night.

I'm not sure who found the other one first. But I know it went from casual Twitter, to slightly more personal Instagram, to mildly emo Tumblr, to "here's my aunt's thoughts on Clickhole." His rap references, posi outlook, and correct usage of the em-dash kinda enchanted me. Plus, let's be real: He was impossibly adorable with his top-buttoned cardigans and rosacea like a rosy-cheeked Emoji—an all-around babe.

I played dumb, leaning over my phone on the Megabus heading back to New York. I direct messaged him on Twitter at first mention of him actually being in the city for work. His media company footed airfare from L.A. and he was staying a few days. We made very nonchalant, loose, no pressure! plans early into his visit. I tried to pretend otherwise, but I was drunk with excitement.

The bartender seemed bored as hell and handed us free Jell-O shots. Matt and I played Beach Boys on the jukebox, shared deep feelings on Replacements’ "Aching To Be," dissected why old-school punk and The Clash were so important to our teenage histories. We discovered that I saw his moderately popular band play in my Florida hometown years before and reveled in the irony. Our Bourbons and green gelatin globs disappeared. The dive prepared to shutter, but not without a final, group-binding shot with the barkeep and a boisterous regular.

I felt his hand steady my lower back en route to a second location. Maybe by accident? Maybe not? We paused in McGolrick Park to make cheerful observations and predictions for spring. The winter leading up to April almost broke me—winds howling on a daily mile-long hike to and from the train. Matt knew the drill well. He'd lived his whole life in the northeast and just happened to move from our then-shared neighborhood to the west coast only months before our Internet friendship ignited.

We arrived at the dark tavern just blocks from my place. The bartender who always spoke so candidly about his love life slid a Bud and Jack our way. David Bowie concert footage played all crackling and fuzzy above our heads as our bodies sat neatly tucked into the booth. Our charade thinned and soon we were skipping to my mouse-infested apartment, hand-in-hand.

After a very PG-13 evening, we dressed and walked to the train into the city together. I even lent him a freaking to-go coffee mug. Unspoken, immediately in sync, we moved like a practiced couple.

Between making out and flipping records the night before, we made an honesty pact. With most dating, as far as I can tell, there’s at least a finite period I like to call the "aloof-off." Whoever shows investment or feelings or humanity immediately loses the upper hand. It’s a garbage practice. Given his brief time frame before a westbound flight, we really had no time to be apathetic. We'd be openly excited, or frankly done. This continued for the week he visited, each night joyously abandoning his company's East Village Airbnb to share my squeaky bed and hot room in Brooklyn. I gave him a key our first morning together and he didn't knock after.

The hard-defined, upcoming departure date acted like a threaded needle punching careful stitches to bring us together quickly and harmoniously. It's easy to bliss wildly out when you know there's zero chance of ever having to surrender a moment of that bliss so you can work to smooth any friction. Friction can't happen in a handful of nights. He extended his trip by a week, transferring his books, razor, and clothes from the Airbnb to my shelf. We shared what ended up being a mutual secret: We'd both been passively crushing on each other via social media for months. He revealed each time he typed the letter "b" into his browser, it suggested my blog. I had similar secrets. We finally had sex. Sharing a glass of water after felt completely natural. The standard first-time sex nerves were totally nonexistent.

We had a final meal together his last night in town: Dinner at a swanky spot in Williamsburg—he insisted we take a cab "like grown-ups." We indulged in an endless array of hummus and cheese and Manhattans, and split the bill down the middle. I had hesitated on the cab call before—it was only a 20-minute walk, and I wasn’t making much money at the time. I dodged most luxury expenses, but on the ride back I ended up paying. I volunteered out of courtesy, but he hastily accepted. It was a move typically warranting major points off any local suitor, but he was special.

The timeline screwed up my eyes to only see the adoring features. I made it impossible for Matt to be human—because humans have faults. He was a breathing, charming version of An Idea. An Idea who would take turns rapping Lil Wayne back-and-forth with me while we brushed our teeth together.

The morning came too early and washed Matt back out to the street to board a LaGuardia-bound car. I woke alone for the first time in days. I hated how easy it was to grow comfortable with his tawny, thin frame to cradle mine in slumber. I put a dress in a rolling bag, got a little stoned, and hailed my own ride to LaGuardia—but I was heading to Atlanta.

The honesty pact quietly died. With him back in Los Angeles and me still in Brooklyn, we barely talked. I'd occasionally send him boozy, pseudo-poetic text messages, explaining I was "pickled in Malbec," or something else requiring minor drafting. He'd respond warmly, but always brief. Once I Tweeted a sad joke about how no one would buy me tacos (a fairly safe expectation for any day, honestly), and my phone trumpeted a notification. "Matt just sent you $5.00 on PayPal." It was for tacos, he said.

We spoke on the phone just once. I trekked north and west at the last lip of ice during the spring. During pauses in our conversation, I could actually hear the snow melting. He described T-shirts and picnics and I explained how to make quinoa. After climbing a particularly steep hill, he accidentally helped convince me to leave New York. “Why not choose adventure?” he asked. One simple question solved a much more tangled one previously looming over my head. A few months later, I loaded a truck for Atlanta and left.

After my move, our interactions waned to include only the very rare Instagram like or Twitter mention. I sometimes replied to his daily TinyLetter, maybe if there was a stand-out photo included or I happened to also be enjoying a song he mentioned. But that was it. When I bought a ticket to Los Angeles to see another friend, I felt obligated to tell him—even though at this point it had been almost a full year since our first and last time meeting. I had very low expectations.

Matt was late and I was nervous, killing time in a park down the road from the apartment where I was staying in the suburbs. I passed minutes with a borrowed novel, trying hard to ignore the pools of sweat growing beneath my thighs on the hot metal bench. Some older men huddled around a chessboard, arguing in Armenian, as I crossed the turf towards his parked hybrid car. "It's like seeing a ghost," he said, giving me a guarded hug as we stood in the road.

At this point, I had a boyfriend. A nice man I met at a secret Santa vinyl swap party. A man with whom I felt stable. I was not trying to rekindle anything with Matt—I suppose it was curiosity above all else driving me to even reach out about my visit. We shared tacos and conversation, and I felt like someone flipped the light on in a very dim room. He was disinterested, meeting with me for mysterious reasons (perhaps guilt or an attempt to be polite), and not especially accommodating. I didn’t expected more, or less…or anything. I felt like this was a stark, almost scientific way of laying out his persona along a blanket splayed directly in a patch of Echo Park shade. Matt wasn't a bad guy, he just also wasn't great. But, fault is human. I’m sure I did no magic of my own on him, either. Reality meant I was no enchantress. Prior to this second interaction, despite all suspicions otherwise, he was exactly that—An Idea. A human forgets he has your college radio station shirt for a full year and never returns it. A human doesn’t make much an effort to initiate texts or hold eye contact for long. A human wears shades.

We had fun during our time in New York because of the looming expiration date (a "sexpiration date," I later joked to a friend). We were probably best off cutting contact as to not risk any bad feelings or harm, otherwise. It's the beauty of the date. And because of the date, it forced us to be candid. We got to really indulge in and enjoy the manic enthusiasm we experience when we meet someone who got us stoked. Instead of wasting time protecting our egos and feelings, we got to emote in a very raw way. Perhaps not entirely definitive—but absolutely authentic. It wasn't a lasting feeling, but during that time, I 100 percent loved Matt in a very deep, precociously tender way.

But as I grew sticky under the creeping California sun a year later, I became aware of my short dress keeping important parts covered, how he took me to his apartment for five minutes and seemingly no reason, his convenient enclave of acquaintances descending during our lounge. Matt dodged any minor probing at depths, keeping all subject matter light and inconsequential. It was fine, and when we parted, I hugged him and his other visiting friend who showed up at one point for an equal 0.5 seconds.

I crossed the street away from his blanket and felt no compulsion to toss up a courtesy wave when boarding another friend’s car. The whole experience seeing him again didn’t make me have less respect for him. It didn’t rattle my appreciation for what he meant to me in those moments teasing about holes in my tights in my toasty Brooklyn bedroom. Or quietly holding hands on the L train keeping our brown eyes locked on each other. None of that is devalued by the fact we probably would have never had a lasting relationship anyway, even if given the time. It taught me love is done best when acting as if there’s not much time. Affection is nice, honesty is necessary, and acting cool is bunk.

Sexpiration dating is great for what it is, but it’s not sustainable. My current boyfriend and I have to work hard to smooth wrinkles since there isn’t a defined expiration looming on the horizon to effectively steam out any imperfections. Learning to love like hell even though you don’t know what’s going to happen is an important lesson. Because there’s a certain comfort in not knowing.

*Not his real name. 

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.

Courtesy of Adidas

The Stan Smiths are a must-have

Adidas just shared its capsule of sneakers paying tribute to Keith Haring, and TBH I can already feel my wallet emptying (and they're not even on sale yet). The new collection features three shoe silhouettes, all including the late artist's iconic imagery as embroidered designs.

The standout style of the collection is the Rivalry hi-top; with bright blue and orange stripes and piping along the edges, Haring's stars and cartoon bodies, in black thread, pop right off. If you're looking for something less over-the-top, the quirky white Nizza Hi RF sneakers show a snake wrapping around the back of the shoe and chasing one of Haring's cartoon bodies toward the toe. There's also a minimal embroidered design on the toe of a classic Stan Smith pair. Look a little more closely at the tongue though, and you'll notice the traditional image has been swapped with a caricature of Haring himself.

Peep the three silhouettes, below, and set your calendar for the official drop at the end of the month.

Adidas, Rivalry Hi Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Nizza Hi RF Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Stan Smith Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hopefully this one will be typo-free

In an Instagram Live on Thursday, Taylor Swift announced that she would be creating a collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney inspired by her upcoming Lover album. Although she kept it vague, we can only assume that the two are working on a collection of luxe merch.

Swift noted in the announcement that she has been friends with McCartney "for a really long time," and that the designer already heard the new album. "I respect what she creates, how she creates it," Swift continued. "There's so much whimsy and imagination and romance to the clothing that she designs." Swift has been wearing McCartney's designs "a lot recently," so maybe we should have seen the collab coming.

One eagle-eyed fan pointed out that Swift wore Stella McCartney rainbow-hued shoes during her Wango Tango set. If the collab is anything like these shoes, you can bet I'll be copping it as quick as I can.

Swift detailed in her Instagram Live that the album Lover would be all about romance, which makes McCartney and her feminine designs perfect for the collaboration. We just hope that this collection doesn't have any typos, like some of Swift's "ME!" merch did.

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Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

And spreads the message that "we all got crowns"

Late on Thursday, Taylor Swift dropped a new single, "You Need To Calm Down," and announced her forthcoming studio album, Lover, out this August. Following her lead single "ME!" Swift continues to spread her message of self-love and call out haters—particularly the homophobic ones—in this latest song.

Swift "ended homophobic locals," as one fan put it on Twitter, with one particular lyric: "'Cause shade never made anybody less gay."

Along with the song, Swift shared a lyric video via YouTube which made her sentiments even clearer. With her lyric, "Why are you made?/ When you could be glad?" she spelled "glad" as "GLAAD," referencing the queer media advocacy organization.

Swift sings of homophobic protestors in the second verse: "Sunshine on the street at the parade/ But you would rather be in the dark ages/ Makin' that sign must've taken all night." In the pre-chorus, she adds, "You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/ And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate."

Swift additionally comments on women being pitted against each other—"We see you over there on the internet comparing all the girls who are killin' it"—asserting that "we all got crowns." There's nothing trolls can do to rain on her parade anymore.

One fan pointed out the possible symbolism of the crown lyric. In "Call It What You Want," track 14 on Reputation, she sings "They took the crown but it's alright." Now on "You Need To Calm Down," track 14 of Lover, she sings that there's not just one crown—we all have them.

Some fans are pointing to the double meaning of the track title. If I had a dollar for every time someone said those words to me in a totally condescending way, I'd probably be richer than her! What woman hasn't been told to calm down about an entirely not-calm situation or while expressing their distaste?

During Swift's live stream for the release of the song, she also announced a fashion collaboration with designer Stella McCartney, a peek of which we got during the singer's WangoTango performance.

Lover is set for August 23 release.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

"I was like, 'Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what?'"

The day I meet Jim Jarmusch, the sun hangs so bright and hot and yellow and solid in the sky that it's hard to believe that it will actually set at night. It's one of those New York June days that suggests we might be in permanent daylight; it's got a completely different feeling than the crepuscular atmosphere of Jarmusch's latest film, The Dead Don't Die, which takes place in a small town in what feels like one long twilight, maybe the last one.

But for today, Jarmusch and I are sitting at a table in a sun-filled restaurant, though we're in the shade. We're in a part of the city that used to be very punk rock, and is now very NYU, yet being there with Jarmusch, who looks so at home, like he's holding court in the booth (it helps that Larry Fessenden, an old friend of Jarmusch's and a writer/director/producer/actor, who appears in The Dead Don't Die, happens by the table to say hi), makes the area feel a little punk rock again, even with all the sun.

The Dead Don't Die is a very punk rock zombie movie, by which I mean: It's not very scary, but it is very cool, and even when it's sneering, it's a little bit tender. Starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Chloë Sevigny as a trio of small-town cops who fight back against a nascent zombie apocalypse caused by fracking, the film is cast with a who's who of Jarmusch regulars, like Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, and Fessenden, to name a few; but it also features younger stars like Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, and Luka Sabbat—and there's a real earworm of a theme song, courtesy of Sturgill Simpson.

Below, I speak with Jarmusch about the movie, being a dilettante, and why he only reads his negative reviews—which is definitely one of the most punk rock things I've ever heard.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/ Getty Images

This was filmed on a pretty condensed shooting schedule, right?
It was a very rough schedule. A very difficult one, actually.

We only had seven weeks to shoot, and we had to shoot Adam Driver out in three weeks because he had to be delivered to Star Wars, and the financing of the film was incredibly grueling and took a long time, so we were pushed so far that we had about one month of prep, and then three weeks with Adam. And then all these different actors coming in and out; I don't know how Carter and Josh, the two producers, organized it all. And then we'd shoot 15-hour days, and halfway through, I had walking pneumonia; I had two coats; it was 95 out; I was shaking. You know, just weird stuff like that. But it's all okay because we had such great people—our crew—everybody. And then, the visual effects were very taxing and complicated.

How did that all work together? Because there's more than one decapitated head.
Yeah, it's a mixture. First of all, we mixed prosthetics with makeup with masks for some of the zombie stuff, but all of those effects with the decapitations, we had to just imagine. So we had to choreograph everything and then only imagine kind of what it would be like, which was, for me, very abstract because I'm not very versed in visual effects. You know, you had to really kind of trust your instincts, because Adam Driver's chopping away with a machete with no blade.

It could've been a machete, it could've been a lightsaber, who knows? So, to what degree is this a sequel of Paterson with Adam Driver's character's last name being Peterson?
Well, I just do these things to amuse myself while writing, you know? Bill Murray in Broken Flowers was named Don Johnson, and in this, I gave him the name Cliff Robertson. Tilda Swinton's character is Zelda Winston. Rosie Perez is named Posie Juarez. You know, I'm just kind of amusing myself.

And Peterson, Paterson. While we were filming Paterson I was always teasing Adam that the next one, we would make was gonna be a sequel about a psychopathic murderous bus driver named Peterson. Tag line: "Get the fuck off my bus!" Or "Next Stop Hell!" You know, stuff like that. It's just to make them... I love trying to make Adam Driver laugh, because he has a very odd and wonderful sense of humor, but it's on the dry side, so I'm always joking around with him between work to try and see what makes him laugh.

But yeah, there's no sequel of any kind, and I don't think that way, and I don't plan, and I don't see my films from the past ever again. I just look toward the next thing.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

What was the original concept for this? When did you start coalescing all of these different elements into knowing that you wanted it to be your next film?
Some years ago after Only Lovers Left Alive, Tilda kept teasing me, calling me, saying, "When do we do the zombies? When are we doing the zombies?" And in between I made Paterson and Gimme Danger, but then after those I started writing the zombie one, and my original conception was: I wanna make a film that's really funny and silly like Coffee and Cigarettes, where people talk about whatever nonsense I want them to, and I want to get actors I love, you know? So I thought, okay, if I make a zombie film, I can have a structure where different groups are cordoned off against the zombies, and the zombie attacks will be intermittent and not very long, so I'll have long lags where they're just stuck there, like in the house of The Night of the Living Dead, where they can talk about any kind of nonsense. So that was my first idea, and then when I started writing it, for some reason, I wanted to have a small town, Centerville, and I just followed my intuition, and it became this, I don't really know why beyond that.

What is it about small towns that make them the perfect setting for existential terror?
They're insular. They're kind of… everyone kind of knows each other. It's controllable by the characters. It's believable that everyone kind of know each other. I don't know. I'm not very good at analyzing that. And also, this is not a horror film because horror films use devices that are necessary to frighten people, like suspense, and then you get scared. We have no interest whatsoever in that. This is more of a metaphorical zombie film, but I would not call it a horror movie. It's a comedy with zombies with a kind of sad ending. Beyond that, I don't know what it is.

And horror nerds may not like it if they're expecting creepy, creepy, scary thing! They're not gonna get it. They're not gonna get that delivered to them.

What's interesting about it is seeing who fights back against this existential dread. Or, like, Chloë Sevigny's character, Mindy, doesn't fight, she is on her own separate trip, avoiding the end till she embraces it.
It's a character film. It's not even a plot film, really, although critics say that about all my films. But Chloë… it's a complicated thing, because when I first called Chloë, I told her... I wrote her a letter, and then she said, "Yeah, yeah I'd like to do this." And I said, obviously, this is not a feminist character. She's reactive. She's our sort of "Scream Queen." She screams like six times. But Chloë is the master of reaction, and I love watching her react.

She definitely feels like a stand-in for what a normal person would feel during these absurdist experiences, which is nice to have. It's not necessarily that you need a relatable character in a movie like this, but...
Yeah, but she's an empathetic human that's in a job with some authority, but in a small town where that means taking care of whatever, you know, as a police officer, pretty minimal [stuff]. There's not a lot of rampant crime or anything going on… or anything at all, really.

Credit : Frederick Elmes / Focus Features

A lot of people are going to be projecting tons of different meanings onto this film, like with all your films. To what level do you participate in that or pay attention to that? Or, once you're done making a film, is it just out there, and you just let people project onto it whatever they will?
I've always felt that anyone's interpretation of a film that I write and direct is probably more valid than my own. Because it's a funny thing, the beauty of films is going into a world—or a book or whatever—but going into a world that you don't know, and you are entering a world, and it takes you. And if you wrote it, and you were there filming it, and you're in the editing room every day for six months, the mix, and all that... I can never possibly see it. I like hearing what friends or people I know... I like Q and As after screenings because they have no agenda except their interest. I like that a lot, and I value that. I don't really like to read a lot of reviews unless they're really negative. I love the negative ones.

You do?
Yeah, because they must be very far from me in their perception of the world, and that is interesting to me. But I try not to read a lot...

I think you're probably the first person who I've ever spoken to who says they like to read the negative reviews.
I really like them. The worst one I ever got in my life, I laminated and used to carry in my wallet. It was a brief thing from a right-wing French [paper], maybe Le Figaro or something, of a film called Dead Man that we made, and they said—this is the English translation—"The French intelligence celebrates Jarmusch in the way death and blind parents would celebrate their retarded child. Jarmusch is 33 years old, the same age as Christ when he was crucified. We can only hope the same for his film career." I was like, Whoa! That is harsh! I'm keeping that one!

It gets personal.
But that was vicious. I was like, Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what? What happened? It was really... the knife was sharpened, you know.

That speaks to a very specific kind of agenda for sure.
A friend of mine Amos Poe, he's sort of a mentor of mine, a punk filmmaker, whatever, and when we were young when he made, in the late-'70s, one of his films—The Foreigner or Unmade Beds—the New York Times called it "the cinematic equivalent of kindergarten scribbling," and he put that on his posters and put "New York Times" and we were like punks, we were like, "Yes! Amos! That's great!"

I mean, it genuinely is a pretty great pull quote, and I think also a little bit oblivious to the charms of a kindergartener's scribbles and what the value is in that anyway.
Yeah, it was kind of accurate in a positive way, and they intended it as very negative.

In this film, there are so many actors who are veteran actors, but there are also a lot of younger actors. What do you like about the combination of that dynamic?
I just like the variety of sort of world perceptions—indicated in a very minor way when Bill Murray's character says, "I've known Hermit Bob since we were in junior high," and Adam's character says, "Oh, wow! That must've been like 50 years ago!" And Bill says, "Yeah. It was." But just the kind of difference of perception of age I find as I get older really interesting. And I'm very interested in young people, especially teenagers, because I think they form our sense of style, of music, of so many things, and yet they're kind of pushed around and treated badly and constantly told, "You don't know how the world really works! You're just a teenager!" But they gave us poetry. They gave us Mary Shelley and Rimbaud and chess masters, and all the great music comes a lot from teenagers. So I tried to keep a pulse, that's why the three teenagers, I would not let them turn into zombies. There are only four people [who don't get turned by zombies]: those three that are delinquents, and the Tom Waits character, who's already removed himself from the social order long before.

When the zombies become zombies, they all have one inciting thing that they're still pursuing in the real world. Do you have one thing that you think you would pursue if you were a zombie?
You know, it's hard because I'm a self-proclaimed dilettante. I'm interested in so many things, I don't know if I would be breaking into a bookstore, or if I would be in the alley outside of a movie theater, or if I would be trying to get into a guitar shop. I'm not sure. I have a lot of interests.

I mean there's a way in which it's a really tender portrayal of the human impulse to just seek out these things that they love.
It's not totally a critique; it's their vestigial memory of some things that they were drawn toward, whether it was power tools or oxycontin.

The Dead Don't Die is in theaters now.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features