B“Because Martha,” said Pati with a charming smile, “Once you try the cake, it is hard to go back to crackers.”

The Reaction of Salts


“Ok, ready?” Asked Natalia while putting on a good girl’s hoodie over a fashionable top.
“Ready,” I said, doing the same.
“Now that’s much better – the teacher hates us as it is, but at least we look like we care and not just came back from a party!” said Natalia, pleased with our impromptu teenage makeover.
“Haha, You are right,” I said, amused.
“Do you have the formula?”

These were our last words as we entered the chemistry lab, taking the last chance to pass the class.

I sucked at chemistry. I found it fascinating but could not understand it no matter how hard I tried.

It was all so abstract, yet perfectly logical. But it never made sense to me.

The formula Natalia mentioned was a molecular language that we made up by using a combination of simple keyboard symbols that represented chemical chains and reactions.
They served as universal principles that we kept handy and used to recreate possible outcomes while working on an assignment.


Our classmates thought we were insane.


But it worked like a charm, and we managed to pass the class.

However, despite that, my inability to understand chemistry still haunted me years later.

At that time, it wasn’t just a reaction of salts but a feeling stranger than any drug. And I could not find a theoretical “formula” that would apply. I felt at the mercy of inexplicable abstraction I could neither comprehend nor explain.

You see, you can control alcohol or whatever you do there, my debauched souls.

When you go too far, you know. And you know what to do. You put the glass down.


But what do you do when it is the person that makes you drunk and high, and you can’t ask them to stop?

martha may red cocktail dress in winter forest norway winter forest and branches covered in snow oslo norway

What Friends Think


“Don’t exaggerate, Martha,” said my friend Mark. He was a man so irresistible that other men wanted to date him just to understand his success with the ladies.

“I have a chemistry like that every 3-4 months. A passionate fling is a nice thing!” he laughed. “It’s fun, and you don’t need to be so hung up on it,” he added lightheartedly.


Until that is, he got involved in the one fling that made him so addicted and conflicted it changed his life.


“I’m addicted, Martha. My work suffers; my relationships with friends suffer. I started drinking. I look like a wreck. All I talk about is her, over and over again. I want to quit, but I can’t. And the fights! She yells and yells, why am I even listening to her nonsense?” I need to lie down, call a shrink!” He hissed, upset as we talked on the phone.

“Sorry, do you have a cigarette?” someone asked in the background as we continued the conversation.
“Yes, my friend, here you go.”

“Are you lying on the street?!” I asked, surprised.
“Yes, on the bench. I needed to get out.” He paused. “Man, my life is not the same.”

I agreed.

There’s no way back.


“Because Martha,” said my girlfriend Pati with a charming smile, “Once you try the cake, it is hard to go back to crackers.”


In search of the logical formula that could explain ‘chemistry’ and Valentine’s’ stories’ common theme, I asked dr. Hana Ryskawa why it seems people divide romantically by ‘exciting as a cake,’ and ‘uninteresting like stale crackers.’

Her answer made me think that science serves any other organ in detail but the heart.

She said: “The romantic affect can sneak up on an individual out of nowhere. It is the sound of the person’s voice, their scent, and an inexplicable mix of little hard to identify things that play deeply to our subconscious, causing infatuation. There’s no good explanation of why it is one person and not the other that can cause that. That’s why so often, to emphasize the random, unpredictable nature of the precedent – we use the phrase ‘falling in love.’ Or as the French would say ‘le coup de foudre’ – thunderbolt, an astonishing occurrence.

martha may walking through the winter forest in a red dress oslo norway winter forest and branches covered in snow oslo norway

The Date


“Do you want wine?”

“The wine,” I thought, “I already feel drunk.” I took a glass.


We sat down in a stylish bar, strangers meeting for the first time. But there was a feeling of strange familiarity that felt like coming home after a long absence; an immediate comfort like when you lie on your favorite pillow and wear those old slippers that resemble the shape of your foot perfectly.


I noted a sensation after sensation listening to your melodic voice, not hearing a thing.
You touched my hand and took it away like a thief burned by fire, surprised why you touched it.
For me, it felt warm, like a touch of the sun. And all of a sudden, I was somewhere between the memories of Tuscany in the midst of cypresses and morning dew.


Once that popped into my mind, I thought I started hallucinating. So much for following the conversation.


It wasn’t 2 minutes since you touched my hand talking about how you try to persuade co-workers not to fly first class at the company’s expense when I touched your knee to accentuate something. Like you, I swiftly took my hand away, embarrassed, unable to explain why our hands are like hungry tentacles searching for food. It was kind of inappropriate.

I glanced baffled at my untouched drink and wondered – “Omg is that how the rape pills work?”


By the time we went to dinner I was unable to make conversation.

I watched you bantering with the staff as we ordered the food and thought that I would like to see you do that for the rest of my life. There were so many flower-scented, dew infused emotions racing through my head, diffusing across my perceptions I felt tired before the appetizers arrived.


I wanted to go out and go to sleep.


And I had no idea what you were saying for these two hours.


“My friends are probably out now too, so do you want to go to some other place, or would you like to meet them?” You asked.


To tell you the truth, at that point, I would be glad to meet a wild boar just to get away from you, and whatever was going on. I had no idea what could happen if I listened to how fun you are and looked into your eyes for 5 more minutes, so I said:


“That’s a great idea.”


We hit the streets, and crisp air and city lights swirled around us. If one could ever wonder how being inside of a Christmas ornament could be – that was it. Everything was electric and cheerful, mysterious yet known so well.


We met your friends in a lobby and took an elevator to a cozy little bar.

At last, I felt like I could breathe and not hallucinate inside of a Tuscan sunflower patch.


“Hey Shelly, what do you have in that drink?” I asked a pretty blond girl in a long black sweater sitting next to me.

“Ha, it’s a thyme branch! How cool, right?”

“Yeah, it looks lovely! Can you smell it? I think the scent really brings up the flavor of this cocktail.”

“Oh, you are so right!” She said with a smile as we bantered back and forth.

“Hey Martha, you seem more lively with my friends, and you were so awfully quiet at the dinner, you didn’t feel good there?” You leaned in and asked, concerned.

“I was…dehydrated.”

“Oh. I thought it was me or…”

“No, no, it had nothing to do with you.”

martha may in a red cocktail dress in the winter forest oslo norway winter forest norway oslo
martha may standing in a red cocktail dress in a winter forest martha may standing in a red cocktail dress in a winter forest