Danielle Ma

Personal essayist and contributor for past and current publications including Thought Catalog, Quarterlette, Twenty Something Living, and Pink & Black Magazine. Passionate about feminism, technology, maker culture, and user experience. Let's get coffee sometime. Boston > Berkeley > NYC

Breaking Up: The Present Participle

After a breakup, strength looks like the ability to move on, to cut communication, to archive your memories away and date other people. Weakness looks like the 1am call to talk about what happened between the two of you, the Christmas present you sent him anyways, the inability to leave texts unanswered. Strength looks like deleting his number. Weakness looks like bringing him up in day-to-day conversations. Strength looks like getting out of the house to meet the guy you found on Tinder. Weakness looks like choosing to stay in bed.

A Farewell to Adam

This is the piece I’ve been too afraid to write, the piece I’ve put off for days, now weeks, quickly circling a month. At first, I didn’t want to write it because I didn’t want to fall apart. I didn’t want to get pulled back into the pool of toxin I had just sucked out of my body. I also didn’t want to give him any more power or presence in my life than he already had. Writing immortalizes people, for better or for worse, each moment and emotion crystallized into eternity.

And Then I Met Adam

When I was in the 8th grade, one of my teachers told me that if I was hooked up to machines, I could power the school with my energy. I’ve always been the excitable one, passionate about all the things in my life, people especially. People are everything to me. More than knowledge or success or truth or honor or fame or good-doing, I live for people. They are the reason life is worth living. To love and be loved, that’s purpose defined. I’ve been consistently shown what unconditional love looks like (thanks Mom and Dad!) and have mirrored that in my closest relationships. There’s always been this innate curiosity to know others, to drink in their stories, uncover their vulnerabilities, and find the humanness that makes us all wonderfully weird.

Something Cosmic

There’s a man in my life I can’t be with. A man who isn’t right for me and whom I am not right for in return. I’ll just say the things we have never said to each other but know without needing to. He’s too old for me, and I’m too young for him. Our families wouldn’t understand, our friends would maybe indulge in empathy but ultimately succumb to confusion as well. We’re at such different points in our lives that we would both need to give things up for the other. Not the regular relationship compromises that are necessary when merging worlds, no—the big things. He’s already lived the life I want with someone. The love, the marriage, the child-rearing, the family. Our generations just barely missed each other, not enough to affect our incredible ability to connect, relate, and make each other laugh. But enough to mean that we can never be a we.

This Is How I'll Reject You

You’ll never see it coming because I genuinely like people, and I’ll genuinely like meeting you. I’ll show up at the bar, late, and you’ll think that I’m pretty. You’ll probably be a little nervous and maybe not quite know what to say. You might say a little too much or just not enough, but I will smile and I will order a drink that surprises you and I will ask questions that keep things interesting. I’ll be disarmingly charming but blunt, which will make you feel like it’s somehow a different kind of date. You’ll talk free-flowingly because I’ll ask you specific things, things you’ll find you enjoy thinking about and sharing because maybe no one has asked you before. Certainly not on a first date.
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